Special Collections and Archives
researched by Music Librarian Christopher Popa
A King Super 20 trumpet that once belonged to Ziggy Elman, with his name engraved on the bell, was advertised for sale on eBay in March 2005, with a reserve of over $3,000.
"If I am correct the horn was made in 1946 with a serial number 275,xxx," the seller noted. "I have a notorized statement from the woman I bought the horn from stating that she won this horn in a 1954 radio show contest . . . Ziggy had donated the horn for a fund raiser."
The person, located in Kentucky, was trying to sell it on eBay, hoping to raise money to help pay his daughter's college expenses.
"My reserve is less than what I just paid for my daughters new Brannon flute. If Ziggy Elman's gold plated trumpet is not worth more than a new flute then something is wrong with today's market," he commented.
Elman's only son, Martin, does have in his possession his father's actual horn.
"Oh yeah, I have the original," he confirmed to me in April 2005.
But he was not aware of that other trumpet, which is shown below, being offered on eBay.
"No, I knew nothing about it . . . in fact, I don't even have a computer," he said. "That's interesting. 'Cause they just auctioned off the stuff of Benny Goodman's in New York about two months ago. And I had called [ Elman historian ] Dave French, and I asked him, 'Geez, maybe I should sell the trumpet.' And he said I shouldn't do it, he felt I should keep it."
Martin also has some original printed materials which belonged to his father.
"Uh, I have something downstairs, it's been packed away for 30 years," he reported. "It was basically sheet music. I don't even know what it is."
But at least some of Elman's music library might have been sold following his death, to his former partner in a music shop he ran in California.
"I think a lot of it went to the music store," Martin said. "I had sold it to him, and I can't remember his name. That was in '68."
Martin also had other things, but they vanished not long after Elman died.
"See, what happened was, I had loaned all this stuff to this woman, a friend of my dad's, when he passed away," Martin explained. "Everything he had, I had loaned to that woman. 'Cause I had to clean the house out . . . And then she just disappeared with everything. All the records . . . all that disappeared."
Was she a writer?
"No, she was a groupie," Martin explained. "I didn't know it. I guess they had 'em back in those days. She had followed my dad around for years, and they had just met each other, again, after my mother had died. And she was hanging around with him, right before he died. And so I thought she had good intentions, but then she just disappeared with everything."
It was a terrible loss.
"It hurt me," Martin commented. "I wish I had it all."
eBay advertisement. "Ziggy Elman's Own Gold Plated King Super 20 trumpet," Mar. 5, 2005.
Elman, Martin. Interview with author, Apr. 16, 2005.