C. G. Conn, Violin, ca 1897-1898, Elkhart, Indiana – Branded Serial # 214 – SOLD, SOLD, SOLD – 3/12/2021
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Conn was a United States manufacturer of musical instruments founded by Charles Gerard Conn. In 1850 he moved with his family to Michigan and then the following year to Elkhart, Indiana. He learned to play the cornet at a high level and in 1861 enlisted at age 17 and became a private in Company B 15th Regiment Indiana Infantry. Shortly after enlisting he was assigned to a regimental band. He enlisted a second time, December of 1863 at Niles, Michigan in Company G. He was elevated to the rank of captain, and was taken prisoner during the assault on Petersburg in July of 1864. After the war, Conn returned to Elkhart. Not one to sit still he established a grocery store and banking business. An injury to his lip, a split lip, inspired him to seek out new ways to make a mouthpiece to serve him as he wanted to continue to play. This was the beginning up his music business endeavors. Conn help build the city of Elkhart, being its first mayor, founder of the Elkhart Truth newspaper, purchased the D.C. Times, and served two terms both in the Indiana State Legislature and the U.S. Congress. He did it all and at the time built the largest instrument making facility in the world, employing over 300 workers. In 1897 Conn hired Italian violin maker William Pezzoni to manage the new venture of building violins, violas, and cellos in Elkhart. That same year advertisements for the “Wonder Violin” appeared. Over the next 18 years more than 2000 Wonder Violins were made. By 1927 Carl D. Greenleaf, who purchased the company from C.G. Conn, decided that the string instrument making division was not profitable enough and phased out Conn violins for good.
Our Stradivari pattern “Wonder Violin” is a part of American history and is in very good condition. We also found a brand on the tongue (back plate), but it is not legible even under high power photography. The instrument does contain patina, nicks, and wear from years of playing. There are no structural issues on this instrument that exhibits a reddish-orange/brown color over a golden ground varnish. The sound on the G and D strings are warm and inviting as the varnish. The E & A strings give a crisp clean sound that make all of the overtones sing. There are no weak notes or dull voicings in the treble or bass. It has a rounded and solid tone with an easy response. This is an excellent choice for an advancing student; well made, Italian traits, an instrument with age and a nice sound.