Author Topic: Help identifying this old Albert system clarinet  (Read 100 times)

Offline pmccombs

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Newbie!
    • View Profile
Help identifying this old Albert system clarinet
« on: August 27, 2019, 01:08:38 PM »
Hello friends!

I am in possession of an old Albert system clarinet belonging to my grandfather. I'm in the process of restoring it.

Has anyone seen a clarinet like this before? I've been through quite a lot of Phil's pictures and haven't found one like it so far. There are absolutely no identifying marks on it anywhere that I have found yet (I haven't fully disassembled at this point).

The most interesting part is the barrel. It features a threaded core that allows the player to lengthen the part by up to about half an inch. I took apart the barrel and cleaned up the mechanism so that it moves again. See attachments.

Offline pmccombs

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Newbie!
    • View Profile
Re: Help identifying this old Albert system clarinet
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2019, 04:58:48 PM »
Aha! I looked very closely after work today and found what I thought too be a very faint mark. I rubbed it with a little alcohol, and the cloth came up brownish. I think this was French polished with shellac, and it filled in the mark so that I couldn't see it before. Anyway, it's still hard to make out:

Buffet A Paris
Cramjion...(?)
Brevetes
S.G.D.G(?)

Here's another attachment...

Offline pmccombs

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Newbie!
    • View Profile
Re: Help identifying this old Albert system clarinet
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2019, 10:26:16 PM »
Ohoho, more information emerges... I found what I think is a serial number stamped just above the bell joint. I'm pretty sure it says E245. If the online serial number list is to be trusted, then this clarinet was made in 1890 (Buffet Crampon!).

I'm still confused about the barrel. It's adjustable, and I'm seeing modern ones that are similar if I look on Google. Nothing ever this old, though. I'm not sure if the barrel is original to the clarinet, but the ferrules and wood grain are dead on for the rest of the instrument, down to the green corrosive patina on the metal parts (I'm polishing it anyway, back to new).

The barrel wood was split and had been horrifically filled with something awful, but it came apart when I took off the ferrules. The wood is jet black all throughout, and at first I thought ebony-- except the pores are too open for Diospyros species. African Blackwood apparently, Dalbergia melanaxyon which the Spaniards seemingly took for pomegranate and thus named Granadilla-- rendered grenadilla in English.

This is my first woodwind restoration; I'm a luthier by training and have done some stringed instrument restorations but mostly violin making. I hope there will be those here who can tolerate my questions!

My first observation is that we never glue anything on a clarinet (well, besides split wood and fractures)... it seems that ferrules are compressed onto the piece (and indeed the entire barrel tuning mechanism within) likely with a bit of wax to seal and tighten everything. It should all be reversible for future repairs.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2019, 10:37:09 PM by pmccombs »

Offline Dibbs

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 84
    • View Profile
Re: Help identifying this old Albert system clarinet
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 06:37:16 AM »
It is possible that the barrel is original.

There is an adjustable barrel made around that time in the Bate Collection.  No 4025 below.

http://www.bate.ox.ac.uk/assets/files/Bate%20Collection%20Clarinets.pdf


Offline pmccombs

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Newbie!
    • View Profile
Re: Help identifying this old Albert system clarinet
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2019, 08:27:32 AM »
Thank you for this-- item 4052 is a good description of what I'm seeing, and it appears to be contemporary with my Buffet Crampon. It says made by Besson of cocus wood, which appears to also be associated with the "granadillo" alternate label, although I have not seen any cocus specimens that achieve this black color. At least this proves that adjustable barrels were known at the time.