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 Pan American CLarinet
Author: mrocro2 
Date:   2001-02-22 16:24

I'm the proud owner of a Pan American Clarient I've had it for 28 years and my father played it before me. It is a beautiful natural grained instrument. I had it reconditioned years ago by the chicago sym. instrument department. I recieved offers at that time to purchase this instrument. Does anyone out there have any information on the company and brand. I do know the company is no longer is business and that this style was made prior to wwII. I also am interested in getting an appriasal for this instrument. Maybe I should have it insured for more.
Who do you recommend for this?
Please feel free to contact me personally.
Chris Olson

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 RE: Pan American CLarinet
Author: Dee 
Date:   2001-02-22 16:56

Pan American was a wholly owned subsidiary of Conn. Conn established the Pan American division to produce student grade instruments. For many years, only the Pan American name was placed on the instrument. In later years, Conn included the Conn name on the instruments leading many people to mistakenly believe that Conn had purchased them instead of owning them all along. The history of the Conn company can be read at the internet site for the Shrine to Music Museum (sorry don't have the URL handy).

The normal Pan American clarinet is worth zip. However there is one version that has some value among collectors. At one point in time, they experimented with using laminated wood billets to make the clarinets. When the clarinet is turned from the billet, you get a lovely and prominent "grain" effect. It's not really a grain but just the pattern that you get when you cut across the laminations. All the ones that I have seen were stained a beautiful reddish brown color. Unfortunately there were flaws in the lamination process and many of these split along the laminations. This resulted in such significant impact on the company's reputation that this process was discontinued. They come up on the eBay auction from time to time and, if in good condition, will generally go for $300 or a little better.

Other versions of the Pan American aren't worth more than about $50. Although they had a nice, big, full sound, their intonation accuracy was atrocious (I speak from personal experience here). The construction was definitely low cost. Basically where other clarinets use the long rod screws down the centers of the rods, they used short end screws in most instances. In addition, the key work was not well balanced and had a "clunky" response.

Over the decades, the Pan American was produced in a variety of materials including wood, laminated wood (as discussed above), hard rubber and plastic.

It is likely that you have it over insured rather than under insured.

Reply To Message
 RE: Pan American CLarinet
Author: lande 
Date:   2001-02-24 02:57

I agree with most everything Dee says. However, I thought that Pan American was sort of a separate company in the middle 1920s. It might have been a joint venture between Conn and someone else. Not sure. I will have to look for the web site. Anyway, there were some metal clarinets sold in the 1920s which were marked Pan American, but not Conn, which had adjustible barrels and which, in many respects, looked like the top of the line metal clarinets subsequently sold under the Conn name. Of course, the one pan american metal clarinet I bought looks to be a student model. But I think the earliest Pan American metals were at least one step up.

I have one of the laminated Conns. It is very pretty but they keywork looks second rate. Years ago I restored a Conn that was grenadilla. The wood was flawless but again, the keywork looked sub par. I wouldn't want to have to bend a key. Since Conn had some other student lines at various times, it is possible that the Pan Americnan was an intermediate at some point.

If your's plays great, then enjoy it. Treat it gently. Don't expect to sell it for much. Keep in mind that even the top wooden clarinets from the 1930s can be had for a few hundred dollars

Reply To Message
 RE: Pan American CLarinet
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   2001-02-24 03:22

Pan American was first established in 1926 by Carl Greenleaf, president of Conn. It was discontinued in 1928, but the trademark was revived by Conn in 1937.

Reply To Message
 RE: Pan American CLarinet
Author: Dee 
Date:   2001-02-24 12:37

The Shrine to Music Museum site is very explicit about Pan American being founded by Conn as a maker of student line instruments. The changes in the label over the years has confused people into thinking that it may have been independent or established by some one else. That simply is not the case. It was always a Conn company and product.

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