above: a Pan American 52K Sousaphone from Conn's 1938 catalog.
The Pan American Company was formed in the early 1910's and was purchased by Conn shortly after. There is some debate as to the exact year the acquisition of Pan American happened. Pan American then became Conn's student line of instruments. They were geared towards school use. Sometime around 1955, Conn ceased production under the Pan American name and put out student instruments with the Conn label.
above: list of Pan American Sousaphones from The Conn Loyalist (click to enlarge)
The Pan American Sousaphones bear a different model number, but each one has a corresponding Conn model. In all reality, in my opinion, the differences are minor at best. Here are the differences between the Pan American and Conn models:
Pistons - Bell Engraving - Serial Numbers - braces -
The pistons on Pan American Sousas were NOT nickel plated like the Conns. They used raw nickel silver pistons. The braces were often decoratively different. Pictures to follow soon...
Since Pan American is supposed to be the "economy" version of C.G.Conn, you might expect there to be more differences, but there really aren't. The 52K Pan American is virtually identical to a Conn 14K. So if you see a Pan American in the future, don't turn your nose up at it. You might be surprised.
This little article was inspired by finding an abandoned Pan American 52K hanging from the warehouse ceiling at the shop.
Here is another image of the Pan American 52K Sousaphone pulled from the Pan American Band and Orchestra guide published in 1953.
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