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The new mouthpiece, which he later patented, caught the eye of other musicians.
He made a few for his friends, but soon there was such a demand for his mouthpieces that he rigged up a lathe from an old sewing machine and began turning them out as fast as possible.
Some instruments, mostly from the 1920's, have either a star ("*") or the letter "B" stamped near the serial number.
Current thinking is that these marks indicate a non-standard alloy, probably only of the bell.
Their expertise, teamed with the Colonel's ingenuity and ambition, soon produced instruments so exceptional that they were accorded highest honors in the 1893 World's Columbia Exposition in Chicago. Twice it was rebuilt, bigger and better than before. He was responsible for founding the first national school for band directors, first and only center for the study of musical acoustics, first successful short action valves, first all-electronic organ and first fiberglass sousaphones, among other legendary advancements.
Famous bandmasters and musicians visited the plant and personally endorsed "Conn Wonder Instruments." John Phillip Sousa, Patrick Gilmore, Herbert Clarke, Arthur Pryor, A. Vaudeville was at its peak, and the theaters and music halls of Elkhart saw a steady procession of the finest bands and musicians of the day. Conn instruments - ornate and often jeweled - became world famous as Sousa and others toured Europe playing before kings, queens and czars. During World War II the Conn factory was completely converted to manufacture precision instruments for defense.
Instruments made during that period are not likely to be their best examples, as the workers were still relatively new at the manufacturing process.
In March of 1974 an alpha-numeric system was established, where the first character (letter) of a serial number indicated the decade; "G" for the 1970's, "H" for the 1980's, etc.
Other cup mouthpiece serial numbers are not available at this time. One Saturday night in 1873, Civil War veteran Charles Gerard Conn got involved in a brawl that resulted in a split lip.