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Celebrate 150 Years of Taps

The Origins of the Model 1892 Bugle (M1892 Field Trumpet)

Over the 110-year history of this design there have been at least seventy manufacturers world-wide making these 1892 horns with playing qualities ranging from superb to gosh-awful, but three are especially worthy of mention in this short essay.

1. The Vincent Bach Company, for the superb quality of their G and B flat field trumpets which play wonderfully. The bugle used by the United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) is in the key of B flat and was designed after the M1892. The Army Band decided on this key to match the sound of B flat trumpets, which are used at ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery when a bugle is not available. Also the thought may have been that the higher pitched sound would carry farther. Incidentally, the instrument is called a “Signal Trumpet in B flat,” not a “Field Trumpet” as described in the 1892 specifications.

Vincent Bach Signal Trumpet

2. The C.G. Conn Ltd. Company, for overall quality, durability and various design improvements. This company, in existence since 1879, has been a pre-eminent manufacturer of brass instruments.

3. The Buglecraft Company, who manufactured many thousands of inexpensive horns for the mass civilian market with brand names of Rex, Rexcraft, and most often just labeled “U.S. Regulation.”

Other M1892 pattern bugle manufacturers include Buescher, York, Holton, Ludwig, Millard, and Weymann.

 

The Boy Scouts of America adopted this basic 1892 design, the many drum and bugle corps founded after World War I standardized on this horn, and dueto contest requirements, the horns came to be specified as “U.S. Regulation.” The BSA bugles made by Conn use a cornet mouthpiece instead of a trumpet mouthpiece. The Boy Scouts adopted the M1892 bugle as early as 1916 and the bugle would remain an important part of scouting until interest began to diminish in the 1970s and 80s. In 1986 the Boy Scouts discontinued their authorization of an “Official Bugle,” although scouts still use bugles or trumpets for ceremonies, troops have troop buglers and it is possible to earn a merit badge for bugling.

 

 

Eventually all branches of the Army adopted the basic 1892 G trumpet and around 1917 it was adopted by the Navy and Marines. Regular Army, Navy or Marine Corps issue horns never say U.S. Regulation, which is a civilian designation. Genuine issue horns are usually marked U.S. or U.S.Q.M.C. or U.S.N. or U.S.M.C. or various depot contract markings. Some have no marks or just the manufacturer’s name.

During World War II, these bugles were painted in Olive Drab (O.D.) color. The Olive Drab finish was specified on B flat bugles on Nov. 11, 1932 and it is believed that same date applies to the G trumpets. World War II Olive Drab M1892 horns were made by Conn, Buglecraft, LaRosa and others.

A World War II issue bugle made by Conn and painted in Olive Drab (O.D.)

During World War I the J.W. York Co. made a variation of the 1892 horn in F with no slide, and some other makers made them in F or converted them. C.G. Conn, H.N. White/King and Wurlitzer made a variation in B flat during the 1930’s, long before the Vincent Bach Model 1955 B flat Signal Trumpet as used in state ceremonies by the U.S. Army Band.

Another variation in the key of A, made by the Kaemph Co., had a single forward circular loop in lieu of a tuning slide but otherwise resembled the standard G trumpet. Some service buglers would take a standard G trumpet and cut down the slide to make it into an A or A flat horn. This has been confirmed by at least one Army bugler who had examples of bugles he had converted. There is some small evidence, though not confirmed, that Navy buglers may also have cut down their horns to A.

A cut-down bugle

During World War II, when there was a shortage of brass, a plastic bugle was put into service. This variation of the M1892 horn (stock #36-T-648 from the USQM No.6 Army Service Forces Catalog, QM Supply catalog… HQ Army Service Forces 31 Jan. 1944) was made of Tenite developed by the Kodak Corporation and manufactured by the Frank Aman Company. There were two slightly different moldings, the light Olive Drab horns being used by the Army and the darker OD horns with a slight mold difference being used by the Marine Corps during the 1950’s and earlier. This early plastic has a tendency to bleed a milky white coating which is the plasticizers coming to the surface, and over time (many years) the plastic will entirely deteriorate. These horns were issued with a plastic mouthpiece but often a metal one was substituted. There are silver-coated ones to be found also but rarely.

Tenite or plastic Field Trumpet

Ad for Tenite

This Tenite (plastic) bugle was designed by Frank Aman who also manufactured the plastic “Tonette” recorder used in elementary schools. These bugles were made by the thousands and many wound up in army surplus stores in the 1950s-70s. One museum example exists of a convertible model 1892 G trumpet which could be changed into a three-valve trumpet by removing the tuning slide and inserting a complete new valve and tubing section. The Conn Company even experimented with a reversible bell in order to have an over the shoulder bugle.

In summary, the 1892 field trumpet in G was a very successful design and it is still in production today although no longer for the U.S. military. The model 1892 specifications were revised in 1918 and 1938, and other regulations were also issued pertaining to their manufacture.

SOURCES:
The National Archives;
Langwill Index of Wind Instrument Manufacturers;
Streitwieser Trumpet & Horn Museum; various manufacturers’ catalogs;
List of Bugle Manufacturers by Dr. Ray Osheroff;
Sgt. Clarence Ponder, U.S.A. Ret.;
horn collection of Randy Rach and former collection of Jack Carter;
many service manuals and period photographs.

About Jack Cater:
Jack Carter is a retired electrical engineer and a Marine Corps veteran with a lifelong interest in field music and military music.  He plays Highland bagpipes, B flat fife, bugles, field trumpets, Civil War flugelhorns and cornets.  He has been in the Civil War reenacting hobby since 1991 as a fifer and bugler.  He has collected and studied bugles and trumpets since 1974, served several years on the advisory board of the Streitwieser Trumpet & Horn Museum and was a charter member of the Historic Brass Society.  At present he is a member of the Company of Fifers & Drummers and Bugles Across America.

© Copyright assigned to Randy Rach, Hartford, MI. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “The Origins of the Model 1892 Bugle (M1892 Field Trumpet)”

  1. […] Mouthpiece in movie "From Here to Eternity" It was a bugle The Origins of the Model 1892 Bugle (M1892 Field Trumpet) Taps Bugler: Jari Villanueva should be an interesting read, the older Conn trumpet mouthpieces will give you that same […]

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