Q: I have a cornet that my family says is 100 years old. I would like to know more about. It is marked “J.W. Pepper, Standard, Philadelphia, 52014.” The horn has all its parts, including the piece that held the music. Is it worth anything?

A: James Welsh Pepper (1853-1919) established J.W. Pepper, a music publishing company, in Philadelphia in 1876. The company started manufacturing brass instruments in 1883. “Standard” is one of 98 models made by J.W. Pepper in the 1890s. The company also imported musical instruments. It stopped manufacturing instruments in 1909. The serial number on your cornet indicates it was made in about 1909. In 1910 the company became J.W. Pepper and Son. By then, it was selling imported instruments and sheet music. The company is still in business and is the largest sheet music retailer in the United States. The value of a musical instrument is determined by its tone quality as well as the rarity of the instrument. It should be seen by an expert in the music field to determine its value.


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