A Brief History of York

From Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind, by Brian Frederiksen, edited by John Taylor. Gurnee, Illinois: Windsong Press, Ltd., 1996 (used by permission):

James Warren York was born on November 24, 1839 in Exeter, New Hampshire. He first worked for the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory, and in 1882 moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he first played in a musical pit. He then owned his instrument manufacturing company until his retirement to California in 1917. He died in Los Angeles on February 9, 1927.York manufactured a full line of brass instruments, both under its own name and proprietary brand names.

York briefly participated in two partnerships, Smith and York (1883) and York and Holton (1885). In 1884 the company was known as J.W. York and Company. In recognition of his infant son, Charles E. York, he renamed the company York and Son in 1887.

York further changed the company name to York and Sons in 1898 to include his other son, Frank W. York. Both sons were active with the company until about 1913.In 1897, Alfred J. "Bill" Johnson became the company's foreman. In 1913, Johnson, along with John and James Duffy, formed a stockholding company, and when the York family relinquished all interest in 1926, Johnson became a co-owner. The company was then known as the York Band Instrument Company.

In December, 1940, York was sold to Carl Fischer Musical Instruments and Johnson left the company. During World War II the company manufactured munitions. After the war, York produced student-line instruments.In 1971, Tolchin Instrument Company, who then owned York, closed the factory. Proprietary rights were ultimately purchased in 1976 by Boosey and Hawkes.


Return to Table of Contents