Author Topic: M. L. Croix  (Read 3318 times)

Offline tarawilk853

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M. L. Croix
« on: August 23, 2016, 11:51:17 AM »
I've had my  M. L. Croix Bass clarinet for about a year now... It was in really bad shape when I got her, it sat in a basement for over 20 years and was never played.  She was an "oldy but moldy" when I got her, and after investing a few hundred dollars... She is fully restored and playable.  The only thing I really know about this clarinet, is that it's old (I was told about 100 years old?) and that it belonged to my friend's father who played the bass clarinet professionally.

I attempted to have it appraised, but the music store couldn't find information on it.  I would really love to learn more about this unique instrument (it has a very interesting octave key like a saxophone)... But the internet doesn't offer any solutions.  I would even like an idea on how much they're worth... And even more, if it's a good idea to play this instrument with her history and uniqueness.  I play in a local concert band, so it would be used almost daily.

ANY help on this beautiful instrument would be much appreciated.  Thank you so much!

Tara

Offline andybeals

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2016, 12:28:52 PM »
There's some suggestion here http://www.woodwindforum.com/forums/showthread.php?3080-M-Lacroix-bass-clarinet that it could be a Malerne stencil.  Nothing much else, other than one fellow thought that they made a good bass.
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2016, 01:38:07 PM »
Is that M. Lacroix or M. L. Croix? I have a seven ring soprano and Dave LeBlanc here (admin) is now selling a bass Lacroix that he played for many years. I don't know if there will ever be confirmation, but at least the sopranos are suspected by many technicians, myself included, to have been a Jerome Thibouville Lamy stencil brand. The basses might be also, but not necessarily. You can compare it to illustrations of JTL bass clarinets in some old catalog pages. This was 1902:
www.luthiers-mirecourt.com/thibouville1901_2.htm#deuxième partie82598259

Scroll down to page 122.

Depending on the year, yours would probably have a few more keys and some lower notes. If it is really old, Malerne is unlikely because that would have been Lebret until the 1930s. If it has the low Eb, it is probably later than earlier.

If it plays well and is already 100 years old, I don't think playing it will hurt it. I play quite a few clarinets that are that old and so far so good. I do rotate these but lately I've gotten stuck on a certain early Bettoney with impeccable tone.  Break it in gently after making sure the bore has been oiled is my free advice and worth every penny.  ;)

 It might be good to alternate its' use with another (if you have one) for a few months at least like you would with a new instrument.

I'm also playing an oldy but not moldy bass clarinet that is probably at least 60 - 70 years old. I have had it working all of two weeks after purchasing it used a couple of years ago. I've already used it in a couple of performance situations and it plays well in tune and has great tone. Vintage instruments are best played, not stuck in some museum, IMO. The Lacroix brand, regardless of the maker, typically exhibits the high quality associated with turn of the century French makers.

Dave can tell you more about his, perhaps? I think I saw it listed today.

Photos are almost essential in tracking down the likely makers and dates. By comparing various key features and markings, sometimes we can be about 99% certain.
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2016, 03:56:35 PM »
I managed to get fairly good confirmation that my M. Lacroix bass was made by Malerne, due to the style of the "Made in France" phrase stamped into the joint.  It was identical to the stamping found on hard rubber Evette and Linton basses, as well as a Conn alto.  Those shared the same key style, with a left hand Ab/Eb alternate key that is fairly uncommon.

Although the M. Lacroix doesn't have that left hand Ab/Eb, I'm still pretty sure it's made by the same maker, possibly Malerne. 
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Offline tarawilk853

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2016, 06:26:43 AM »
Here are some pictures of Roxy (yes, I named her! LOL)...  I looked through that catalog and saw nothing like  her.  :-(

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2016, 08:19:27 AM »
Like my mystery bass, it has a single shared post for the LH-5 levers. With a shared post and no low Eb, the date is probably earlier than later. If it were really early it would most likely have an LP designation somewhere. If there are no LP markings, it is most likely close to the 1930s, when these designations became obsolete.

That kind of saxophone ring upper register is uncommon. That could lead to a positive ID, just can't remember where I saw that before. It's not the usual arrangement. The shape of the trill guide is definitely consistent with JTL, but also consistent with numerous other French makers and some USA and German makers. Lebret/Malerne clarinets have the rounded trill guides that look more like a deep cut tapered flat blade screw slot. It still could be a Malerne stencil, but all the Lebret / Malerne clarinets that I have seen have a different trill guide.

If this is a Thibouville stencil it would be from the Thibouville Freres early era, and the details could be quite different from that 1902 illustration. I think the detail to be on the look-out for is that ring register key. Find one of those with a maker name and that is probably the maker. What do the country of origin and serial marks look like if there are any?
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Offline andybeals

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2016, 09:54:29 AM »
Here are some pictures of Roxy (yes, I named her! LOL)...  I looked through that catalog and saw nothing like  her.  :-(

So, Tara, from a discussion elsewhere here, do you find that you miss not having a low Eb key?  Do you play regularly?

As to naming instruments, it's not uncommon at all.  It's rehearsal day, so The Big Guy (contra alto) and Dr. Leakey (alto) are here with me, along with the un-named Noblet bass you can see me playing in my profile photo.  Fritzi (soprano) is at home with four other un-named sopranos.  "Baby" (alto) is in the cedar closet, along with Barry White (bass) - they're both plastic.  And there are two un-named altos in two separate shops.  My regular tech already called the Linton alto "he", so…
« Last Edit: August 25, 2016, 10:38:02 AM by andybeals »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2016, 10:04:34 AM »
Here are some pictures of Roxy (yes, I named her! LOL)...  I looked through that catalog and saw nothing like  her.  :-(
I named mine Bruce...
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2016, 10:22:32 AM »
My trumpet is Frank (Frank Holton). The bass guitar, Leo (Leo Fender);- I call the mystery bass clarinet "Mysti". I'm not particularly creative when it comes to names but most of my instruments have them. Heidi for the Heidelberg recorder;- so it goes.....

L. Lebret marked soprano clarinets do have that more usual French trill guide, but this changes when these are marked with Malerne as successor or R.M. / R Malerne. Did Lebret make stencils? Plausibly. They also branded metal stencils made in the USA by H. Bettoney.
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: M. L. Croix
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2016, 10:30:00 AM »
Your M Lacroix has the same logo style as mine, but different register mechanism and no Eb as well as unified posts, so at least we know that dating. 
Does yours have a serial number? 

As for value, without the low Eb I think it would not sell for as much.  Mine sold at $750, so yours might be a smidge less.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages