The H.N. White Company was founded 1893 in Cleveland, Ohio by Henderson White, an engraver and instrument repairman. White started out working for McMilin's Music Store. He often hung around the theater acquainting himself with the musicians and looking for repair work. Described in the 1943 King 50 Years of Achievement in the Band Instrument Industry, "For many months the two men collaborated, pooling their experience as artist and mechanic. Frequently Thomas King went from the theatre to White's shop to the the model trombone in its various stages of development. After long and painstaking effort the first of the famous line of King band instruments... the King trombone... came into being." [in 1894] with the first King trombone which featured different model bells, bores, and mouthpipe than any horn before it, later developing other brass instruments. The article goes as far as to say, "Every professional trombonist in Cleveland bought one." Henderson White chose the brand King as a symbol of superiority and leadership in 1893.
In 1904, White paired with F.A. Reynolds, and started offering woodwinds in 1908, importing saxophones from Evette & Schaeffer (Buffet) marketed as student friendly pricing compared to American made horns. After that V. Kohlert saxophones. The first world war enhanced White's desire to make American made instruments using the supplier Cleveland musical Instrument Company. In 1916, many horns were made for military bands. During World War I the company built another building and began experimenting with designs in woodwinds. In 1917 and 1918 all saxophones were made for the government, and they are mark for which branch they were sent to. A 1935 H.N. White Catalog of Woodwind Instruments lists everything from flutes to bassoons, including both Boehm and Albert system metal clarinets.
The development of the King "Saxello," an innovation to the soprano saxophone, featured a tilted neck and bell, which White felt it improved the tone. The Zephyr featured better key design and improved bore. In 1925, H.N. White acquired the Cleveland Musiacl instrument company. Foster Reynolds left and made his own company, four years later Henderson White died in March 26, 1940 at the age of 65. His brother Hugh White, widow Edna White, and daughter Cathryn White-Ludwig all acted as president after his death. After World War II (1946) H.N. White developed the famous "Super 20," one of the companies most famous horns, which has a rich and mellow tone that blows easy throughout the range of the instrument. A year later they offered the silver model of the Super-20 (named after the twenty improvements made on the Zephyr) with solid sterling silver bells and necks that cut more than the brass models. During the 1950's, the Woodwind department employed 50% women due to the intricate and complex parts of the smaller instruments. In 1965, the company sold to Seeburg Corporation of Eastlake, Ohio and the name was changed to "King Instruments." Lower production cost led to cheaper instruments and in 1985 once again the company sold to United Musical Instruments along with Conn becoming part of the Conn-Selmer company. Instruments included slide trombone, cornet, trumpet, clarinet, Trombonium valve trombone, baritone, flutes and saxophones.
1920's Silver bells sharper sound
brazed-on tonehole chimneys
TheKing Saxello (soprano saxophone) both tilt neck and bell
King Voll- True II 1934 first saxophone with both bell keys on the right side
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
More on King H.N. White Company [less]
1943 King 50 Years of Achievement in the Band Instrument Industry
White Way News no 14 1947