An Index to Frank Instruments

The following list is a modest beginning for a list of Frank instruments.

If you note any discrepancies, or have additional information concerning this company, please contact us here at Horn-u-copia.

For more information, go to the Detailed Record of Frank Instruments. This page lists known and reported Frank Instruments as a service to those researching Frank.

Excelsior or Frank
19?? - 1938 6600 - 10,000
Excelsior and American Prep
1942 - 1945 1000 - ??
1945 -- 10,000 - 15,000
American Prep
1945 -- 100,000 - 112,000

"Seen so far" Table of Models

ModelUsed onSerial Range
Excelsior Cornet, Trumpet, Mellophone, Trombone 878-8343
Classic Trumpet, Euphonium, Sousaphone, Saxophone 1672-14456
American Prep Cornet, Trumpet, Trombone 4101-208956
Paramount Cornet, Trumpet,Saxophone, Mellophone 3570-8740
Bel CantoCornet, Trumpet 4138-5501
New EraCornet, Trumpet 2322-6531
IntrascalaTrumpet 4975-5874
Utona DeluxeTrumpet, Sousaphone, Saxophone 2849-57xx
TempertoneCornet, Trombone, Trumpet 4618-8989
NationalCornet, Trombone 10046-10073
BiltmoreCornet, Trumpet 111xx-348766
ArtistCornet, Trumpet 11320-12415

Speculations on Frank Serial Numbers

 - Jim Noyes, Kenton Scott

There are many unanswered questions about the Frank serial number sequence(s). Were there multiple sequences for different instruments? Were sequences reliably chronological? Were the sequences reset when the factory moved to Barrington Ill, etc.

He began in his business in 1909(1), in addition to his professional career as a orchestral horn from 1904.(2) His business prospered and he expanded to new quarters in 1919.(3)

US Army documentation (4) could explain why there appears to be no early documented horns from Wm Frank Co, even though he was in business from 1909. According to the army's own figures, 143,000 instruments were purchased. With figures like that, Frank's small company could easily have been busy filling military orders for years.

The "established" 1938 end of first run of Frank horns (based on the above SN list) makes sense for two reasons: first, there was a recession in 37-38 that caught a number of businesses (York ceased production of saxophones around this time). The name "classic" appears to have been discontinued at this time. (Simlar to Martin who discontinued "handcraft" after WWII.) "National" and "Artist" apprear to have been initiated in 1945. Plus, the Barrington plant opened in this time, too.

Bugles -

From the Middle Horn Leader website(5): "There's evidence that sometime during, or shortly after 1927, William F. Ludwig contracted the William Frank Company of Chicago to fabricate an instrument with the piston positioned horizontally instead of vertically."

Also, see recent eBay:

That appears to be the FIRST bugle off the assembly line!!!

Bugle #34 is here:

1927 makes sense historically, too, since the serial numbers needed to begin before 1932, the year of Frank's death AND likely prior to the crash of 1929. He wouldn't be starting a new business initatives in the depression. 1927 was still a boom time, although some were beginning to see signs. . .

Saxophones -

Martin made stencil saxes for Frank in 20s/30s, and All Experts mentions one with SN - 188255(6). It would also explain a martin SN as opposed to Frank - probably a special order.

Another saxophone, 5,7xx, recently on eBay(7), which is clearly pre-1933. If the sequence starts in 1927, then 5,700 instruments by 1932 makes sense with a staff of 32 (fewer workers in the 1930s). This appears to be an actual Frank SN.

Updated: 9 Sep 2011

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