Horn presents mystery of note

TUESDAY, SEPT. 11, 2007

When he was just a toddler in 1944, Allen Gifford picked up his great-great grandfather’s brass cornet and put it to his lips. The moment was captured in a photograph.

Gifford inherited the antique brass horn and although he has the family history, he doesn’t know a lot about the instrument.

“I was hoping to get tickets to the Antiques Roadshow when it came this summer,” Gifford says. “But we didn’t get lucky.”

He does know the horn was made in the late 1880s and is marked “M. Slater, Maker, N.Y.”

In addition to the horn, Gifford has the original wood case and several music books with hand-transcribed band music written in beautiful script. One of the music books is stamped “M. Slater, 42 Courtland St., New York.

“I inherited the instrument from my father, but it was originally owned by John Henry Claus of Ingham Hills, New York. He was my mother’s great-grandfather and a member of the Ingham Mills, New York, Citizens Brass Band,” Gifford said.

His research hasn’t turned up any more information.

“I’ve had no luck Internet searching for Ingham Mills or M. Slater in New York,” Gifford said. “I’d hoped one of the experts at the Roadshow would know something.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horn on the show.”

So, like most of us with family heirlooms, Gifford knows some of the story, but he is left with a bit of a mystery. Well, that and a mighty cute photograph.

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