Author Topic: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil  (Read 3265 times)

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« on: July 30, 2017, 02:12:39 PM »
Quote
Because of the scale of production in France, there are so many questions there. There are at least three "Lafayette" associated makers. One used a "Lafayette" trademark and this appears to come from La Couture. Another is marked "Lafayette Freres" and looks like it is not the same La Couture maker, but from about the same time. And then later there is the more common Couesnon "Lafayette" brand that apparently originates when Couesnon moved to Lafayette street decades after these earlier "Lafayette" and "Lafayette Freres" brands were defunct. It is worth noting that Pelisson Freres was also located on a Lafayette street (different city).
- Silversorcerer

This clarinet is marked simply Lafayette Paris. It dates from about the same time as another stencil brand called Lafayette Freres. These do not appear to be from the same maker. This is one of those cases when you have to remove what's left of the oyster to find the pearl. In this case the primary oyster appears to have been electrical tape. I can just imagine the tragic sequence:

"My joints are loose everywhere, what should I do?"

"Wrap some tape around them to tighten them up."

"What kind of tape?"

"Doesn't matter;- it's temporary. Just get enough wrapped on there to hold them together tight."

And the rest as they say.....

is how I wound up getting this one for a price I dare not report. If it went to sour notes I needed at least a half dozen of the parts to complete other clarinets. I was hoping to salvage it completely.

This one was in such a painful to behold state when it arrived that I rushed it straight to the work table. Whatever the adhesive is on electrical tape, it bonds to metal as if it were a plating. It was much easier to remove from the wood. Acetone was the only thing I had that would cut it. It could be rubbed off the wood with acetone, but it had to be carefully scraped off the metal parts, and I think there is still a small bit of it there that I hope comes off in the final polishing. The original moutpiece is a loss. I have to salvage the barrel because I think the person that applied the electrical tape might have had an earlier strategy starting with the barrel. I think it is glued on. So, it's now an integrated-barrel instrument.  ???

The stuck barrel will not keep it from playing, and thank heaven it's the original barrel and only has an exterior surface crack and generous scratches, where after realizing the glue was a mistake, someone tried to remove the barrel with a pair of vice grips. And of course there is also the badly sprained key arm that will need attention, and a broken register key spring. No worries, it's second life is just beginning.  :)
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2017, 03:00:00 PM »
OK, so looking under the keys (no stuck screws or rods! ;D), there is only one tone hole crown that is slightly damaged (lowest tone hole) and several of the lower joint tone holes are undercut in a way that the undercut has a facet.

Also I noticed a couple of hidden marks in the wood and I think that paying attention to the locations and type of marks found and tracking these marks could be useful in eventually knowing which La Couture maker this Lafayette came from. See the photos for the marks and locations. Upper joint there is the number "15" under the register key tube, and the letter "V" under the rod for the longest trill key. On the lower joint the number "15" again located under the rod for the LH5 "E" lever, and again the letter "V" under the rod for the rocking key cup at the end of the "E" lever.

I'm not sure what the implications of these marks are but it appears to be a kind of way to keep matched joints together. Perhaps a particular workshop would have a routine type and location for these marks?  ??? I think it might be worth paying attention to while we have an instrument with the keys off. We might want to note what marks we find and the locations of these. It might not be of any use but it also might help match a brand like this Lafayette Paris to one of the makers.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 03:03:25 PM by Silversorcerer »
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2017, 03:22:34 PM »
-Some work to be done on that lowest tone hole crown in the last photo above, but it's not too bad. I don't know much about these Lafayette Paris clarinets in terms of how one might play, but just looking at the bell wood, I am glad the rest of it was in salvageable condition. The quality of the wood is quite encouraging.

What I intend to do is document some of these earliest stencils under the keys for similarities in machining and milling marks and hopefully match them to known makers whose instruments have similar marks. It's a little extra work, but it promises to give us some of the best evidence for tracking which instruments came from which workshop.

Stay tuned (A=435Hz in this case) for more sequential progress reports.  :)
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline LarryS

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 403
  • I'm getting there...
    • View Profile
    • My Music Tree
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2017, 04:39:44 PM »
That looks a lot of work, but the wood looks beautiful, what wood is it? Rosewood?
You don't stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing.
My music blog:
The Music Tree


Clarinet Pages are go!

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2017, 05:13:24 PM »
I'd say this one is about average in terms of what it needs to get it playing. Once I got all the tape residue off of it, it might be better than average for one this age. So hopefully smooth sailing from this point. When I am done with it, most of the value will be in the labor put into it. I'm not sure a lamp maker would have wanted to put the work into it to clean it up sufficiently to make it "decor". It took a few hours. The wood is probably thinking, "Whew! I was almost turned into decor. That was a close one."  ;D

I think it's grenadilla, or sometimes called African blackwood. In the later 19th C. clarinet makers switched from using primarily boxwood to using grenadilla. There are a few actual rosewood clarinets although you will see a number of sellers claiming grenadilla clarinets are rosewood, but rosewood tends to stick out quite dramatically. If you look at my mystery (Harry Pedler) bass clarinet thread, that one is definitely rosewood. Grenadilla comes from a tree in the same family as most rosewood trees and sometimes it can have colored streaks that are lighter but it is not as red. Grenadilla can vary a good bit from stick to stick. Sometimes it looks closer to ebony and sometimes closer to rosewood. It is subtle on this clarinet but in that era lighter grenadilla was often used for the bells and darker grenadilla for the joints and barrels.

Tomorrow I will strip the old pads and glue off the keys and measure it for new pads, might get around to replacing the wire spring and straightening that bent key arm and silver soldering it back onto the tube completely. That bent key on the lower joint is twisted off the tube by about half. That's better than being completely broken. The repair probably won't even be visible. It's going to look good. How will it sound? It will sound like a fine French clarinet that hasn't been played in several decades. Whatever sound that is, it's always music to my ears. :)
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline DaveLeBlanc

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2997
  • Clarinet-ing since 2012
    • View Profile
    • Watson Musical
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2017, 05:13:46 PM »
That looks a lot of work, but the wood looks beautiful, what wood is it? Rosewood?
Clarinets are rarely made out of rosewood, except for several modern Chinese ones that claim "rosewood" (who knows...)
This is probably due to the fact that rosewood cracks really easily, if my parents' Korean rosewood cabinets are any indication of.

Most common clarinet woods: ebony or grenadilla for modern ones, and boxwood for the really old ones.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline Tinker73

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2017, 05:22:14 PM »
Very intersting font on the the letter and number stampings on the joints.  I have been documenting these markings for a while now, I will compare the size and font style to some others I have documented, and let you know is I have some similar.  The position of the markings does not appear to be the same as some others I have documanted, but I will check on that also.

It looks like the LaFayette is certainly looking alot better than it originally looked like it might!
All posts intended for members and visitors to The Clarinet Pages Forum.

Offline Windsong

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Posted from my A G Bell rotary phone
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2017, 05:38:24 PM »

Clarinets are rarely made out of rosewood, except for several modern Chinese ones that claim "rosewood" (who knows...)
This is probably due to the fact that rosewood cracks really easily, if my parents' Korean rosewood cabinets are any indication of.

Most common clarinet woods: ebony or grenadilla for modern ones, and boxwood for the really old ones.
[/quote]
Dave,
My experience is that when Rosewood is oiled on a regular basis, it resists cracking every bit as well as Grenadilla.  It is a lighter-weight wood, but it's grain structure (at least in old-growth supply) is rather complex, and sturdy. 
The Clarinet Pages forum court jester, and expert bubblegum welder.

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2017, 07:32:25 PM »
One thing that we know about these marks already just by the placement is that these were applied after the post positions and tone holes were milled. These marks are positioned fairly precisely in relation to certain post positions, and by that we know the post positions and very likely the tonehole drillings came before the marks, and the keys were put on afterward. That pretty squarely puts the application of the marks in the shop that assembled the instrument;- no matter what kind of dhalbergia species the marks were applied to.  ;)

So, keeping that in mind, the characteristic font and placement of the mark is plausibly characteristic of the workshop that assembled the instrument. Is that reasonable?  8)  It's an internal shop mark. It wasn't on the blanks before they got to the workshop, the workshop put those marks on the joints during their assembly process. We are going to find out who made this Lafayette Paris.

"We want information.. information... information...."  ???
"You won't get it!"  >:(
"By hook or by crook, We WILL."  ;)
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2017, 08:42:18 AM »
This is a Cabart Boehm I took apart quite some time ago, which has some match marks on the upper and lower joints and no serials anywhere, which leads me to believe it is an earlier 20th C. Cabart. It is just one other example of this type of internal shop mark with a two digit number and a letter somewhere below it. I don't think this is the Lafayette maker, but a maker with a similar match mark system.

Beyond that, the wood defies easy identification. It is from barrel through lower joint, the same stick. The grain lines match up as the wood becomes progressively colorful. I'm sure it is some kind of dalbergia, probably grenadilla, maybe rosewood, but it illustrates quite well that there can be a wide range of coloration and grain in a single stick.
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2017, 06:32:14 PM »
Back to the Lafayette, naked of keys....

The keys went through my typical 2 chemical bath clean up using light weight mostly kitchen chemistry. The first bath is de-natured ethanol to get the shellac residue out of the pad cups and also get the regulating cork off. I let it the pad cups soak over night, but it probably wouldn't take that long. This morning all I had to do was swish them around a little and wipe them off. Then it was vinegar (right off the grocery store shelf) for about an hour to reduce the key and flat spring oxidation. That gets most of the tarnish out of the corners and the bulk of the rust off the springs. Sometimes the keys will have some marks that look like Roman numerals hammered into the backs of the keys. This one did not have that type of marks on the keys.

A few of them do have some serrated plier marks and distortion from attempts to get the pads to seal (the hard way). Not too surprising that the damaged tone hole is the one under the pad cup with the plier tooth marks on the top. That is something to consider if you see pad cups with teeth marks on the top. The other part of the plier jaws had to be between the cup and the tone hole when that was done.

Here's what the keys look like after the chem clean-up. They still need a bit of finish polishing with hard rouge. I'm using a hand-held rotary tool for that presently and it saves a great deal of time over hand polishing and is still easy to control.

- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Tinker73

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2017, 02:35:16 PM »
Did you ever get your Lafayette put back together and into playing condition?

I now have a "twin" to yours by the same maker.  I found mine in absolutely beautiful condition, with original case, mouth piece (yes it has the stamp!), ligature and ligature cap.  I can say that mine plays just as nicely as the maker branded clarinet I have from the same vintage, and both were more than likely towards the top end of the "professional" clarinets of c.1900.  Interesting that the maker clarinet only has the import "stamp" on it one time, where the "stencil" has the import "stamp" on it on every piece.  It is definitely one of the better pickups for my collection that I have made in a quite a while!
All posts intended for members and visitors to The Clarinet Pages Forum.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2997
  • Clarinet-ing since 2012
    • View Profile
    • Watson Musical
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2017, 04:52:29 PM »
I'm still rolling the wood ID thing around in my head.
In my experience, grenadilla runs the gamut from black as ebony to red as rosewood, and is often mistaken for either.

Here's an article which mentions how hard rosewood is to work with:
http://www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com/the-grenadilla-myth.html

But here are two modern rosewood clarinets, from the cheapest out there to one of the most expensive:
https://jet.com/product/detail/d86dd0c7cd7d41ee9db7dd9af94c8c22?jcmp=pla
https://www.wwbw.com/Patricola-Model-CL7-C-Clarinet-463802.wwbw
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline Silversorcerer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2017, 04:33:32 PM »
It’s cleaned up, bent key fixed and aligned, resoldered, ready for pads, but I now have four other restorations in front of it. I have an M. DuPont “France” CLP to do so I have a back up for my Couesnon CLP, which is what I am switching to for work with my band mate that plays a C concertina and guitar. It greatly simplifies charts and arrangements to be in the same key.

After that I am completing the 200 yr. old 6 key that to me looks like cocus wood. I think with flat keys that one is too early to be grenadilla. Without seeing it up close, one experienced pro mentioned it might be dyed boxwood, but I think not. I have found someone to make the mouthpiece, still deciding what to do for a bell and I have acquired a goat hide finished in white to do the pads, which are in progress.

And I have an order from a collector for a 7 ring model, brand so far unspecified;- I’ll probably offer him a choice since he is an old friend.

And that C.H. JEROME is also ready for pads and since it is the only Austrian clarinet I have, I have put it before the rest of the pile.

Sorry to be scarce here presently. It’s the party season and I have also become involved in a recording project that is on a tight schedule, but playing bass guitar instead of clarinet. Busy, but expect me to be more attentive early next year.

I actually have two of these simple Lafayette LP Bb models, neither of which has a serial number. They are practically identical although one was in far better condition, sort of playable. I’ll probably do them at the same time. The workmanship on these is really first class, great key metal and very fine striped wood that I think is grenadilla. Curiously, the oval marks on these are skewed to one side and very simply marked, which is not consistent with the manufacture or the fine materials. Who knows why?
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Lisa

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
    • View Profile
Re: Lafayette Paris, early 20th C. stencil
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2017, 07:00:10 PM »
Good luck with your recording session, it sounds interesting and a lot of fun, too.
Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to post, i enjoy reading your restoration rundowns.  You give a newbie like me a lot of great and much needed information.
Lisa
Lisa  Upper Michigan

Everything will B(b)-Fine, at The Clarinet Pages

https://www.flickr.com/photos/148152785@N03/albums  My musical instrument pics, and others!