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Author Topic: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952  (Read 237 times)

Offline windydankoff

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Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« on: September 24, 2017, 12:48:03 PM »
An older friend’s husband died. He would be 81 now. He had been a serious clarinet student until he was in college when he had to quit due to a dental problem. He got this instrument, apparently when he was in high school, in Pittsburgh. We’re estimating around 1952. He had told his wife that it was a very good one. He couldn’t bear to part with it so alas … She took it to the local store for a minimal pad job so it could be sold or gifted. Then she met me and let me evaluate it. I got it to play acceptably, then I played it in a memorial for her husband. It brought her to tears. It sounds good, and has very good intonation, but it still needs lots of work. (The "Steel Ebonite" K9 mouthpiece is wonderful, and a testament to the owner's judgement.)

Can anyone here advise me on its value? I called Volkwein’s Music in Pittsburgh. I was told that they have seen a few by that name come through over the years. It is a private label, probably from some European maker, but he had no information. The aesthetic style of the keys is delightfully old-school. Perhaps it was old when our hero received it? We have no idea.
I would appreciate any opinions as to its possible origin and its potential value. We will then decide whether it is worthy of a first-rate overhaul.

It needs a few rods and screws replaced because heads are rusted and damaged, but they are not stuck now.

Thanks to The Clarinet Pages!
Windy
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 03:20:26 PM »
This is a later Kohlert stencil similar to the Lucian Basse(?) that I think Dibbs identified. I have seen these marked Pierre Dumont, Grenadier, American Perfection, and also with no marks and a definitive example marked Kohlert.

These are the Kohlert type built before the Amati consolidation, mid 20th C. The prices I've seen varied widely depending on the seller or buyer knowledge. See the thread on Lucian Basse.
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Offline Airflyte

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2017, 03:38:11 PM »
 . . . that moment you realize that tweed clarinet cases are really cool.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 09:05:03 AM »
Silver - So, since wartime origin was unlikely, do you suppose it dates to the 1930's? You sound certain of it's Kohlert origin. I assume you are identifying it by its uniquely styled keys?

Can you point me to any documentation, or pictures of similar, that could offer further evidence of the origin?

It has no serial number. Is that unusual?

Phil said (in previous correspondence) that the case looks like late-40's. If the instrument is older, perhaps it had one of those awful cases that held it partly-assembled, and it was graced with a new case later. Was that tweed case used by numerous brands?

Thanks for helping solve this mystery!     only on The Clarinet Pages
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 01:41:09 PM »
Here's the link that was posted on the Lucian Bassi thread: https://reverb.com/item/69920-vintage-v-kohlert-s-sons-kraslice-bb-wood-clarinet-czechoslovakia-as-is

Two that I purchased were marked Czechoslovakia and have serials but rather widely spaced, as if there was a reset. I don't think the Grenadier has a serial.

50/50 cases were used later by Kohlert in Czechoslovakia than the fitted cases with separated compartments, which were used for "Bohemia" marked clarinets as well as those marked Czecho-Slovakia.

Kohlert was removed to Germany after WW2, so it's not later than the war years. Early Amati clarinets look something like these. It might be informative to search the forum for "Kohlert" for more information.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 03:37:05 PM »
That's really helpful, thanks! The keys clearly shows the same unique design elements.

The unplated nickel-silver - does that seem to indicate an earlier, pre-war vintage?

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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 08:55:23 AM »
I don't see the unique key style in the Bassi pics. But here is one on eBay right now that clearly shows the exact same style:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Vintage-Old-V-Kohlerts-Sons-Makers-Kraslice-Wooden-B-Clarinet-/331873702321?hash=item4d4536d1b1:g:SmQAAOSwG-1Wu2wp

Scroll down to see the detailed photos.

The Kraslice designation, I presume would be pre-1940, according to the history in The Clarinet Pages.

Is it unusual to find some pitting on nickel-silver keys? I have not seen that before.
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2017, 10:31:06 AM »
You can remove the pitting with vinegar on a cotton swab, or remove the keys and soak them for about 30 minutes if the pads and corks aren't being saved.
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 09:52:33 PM »
So whose brand WAS Pitt Brand? Was it a big music shop? or a distributor?
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Offline Dibbs

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2017, 02:20:22 AM »
Your original estimate might actually be nearer the mark.  It seems they were still being made post WWII.

Here's one, branded Kohlert, and sold by Selmer London in 1950.

http://www.clarinetpages.net/vintage-odd-brands/selmer/selmer-london-gold-seal

and another similar currently on ebay.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/V-KOHLERTS-CZECHOSLOVAKIA-WITH-SELMER-GOLD-SEAL-LONDON-AND-QUILTER-MOUTHPIECE-/391907984512?hash=item5b3f894480:g:7sUAAOSw0QlZ5OqB


Have you decided to overhaul it?  Mine plays very well but I struggle to get used to the extra long pinky keys.  When playing, for example, B, C# D# at speed my RH pinky has a tendency to hit on the F/C key on the way round.  I've considered taking a mm or so off with a file but they look so nice I can't bring myself to.

Offline windydankoff

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Re: Investigating a beautiful "Pitt Brand Professional" circa 1952
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2017, 07:02:33 PM »
Wow, Dibbs! That is wonderful information for dating! I feel like I have the complete picture now.

No, I haven't decided what to do with it at this point. And at the moment, it still belongs to the widow of the original owner. She wants it to go to someone who will appreciate it. I'm not sure if that's me, as I'm happy with my current hard rubber Bb.

Funny, both the listings you copied say "Krastice" ... the town is Kraslice. Certainly it's hard to read on the more distressed horn.
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