Author Topic: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet  (Read 4952 times)

Offline SW

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Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« on: July 22, 2017, 06:50:46 PM »
Newbie here folks … so please bear with me.  I have recently been given my grand-grandfather’s clarinet.  I’ve determined Thibouville made it.  There are 13 lines of scripting on the bell –  summarized below.  I’ve not yet found a serial number or other markings.  Is there any way to narrow down the year  it was made?   I’m guessing 1900, give or take a year.  Does that seem reasonable to this forum?  Spelling below may not be 100% accurate.

Legion D’ Honneur
Hors Concours
Paris
1878-1889-1900
<several ringed logo>
Jerome
Thibouville
Lamy
F de C’Armee
Brevettes GOG   (this line was hard to read)
(?)  68 R Reaumur
PARIS
AA             Does AA mean it is an A-Flat?

The clarinet is in very good condition for its age, though I have not looked to do any further cleaning on it, nor yet tried to play it.    It just recently came into my possession.

Thank you for any further insights into this instrument.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2017, 07:01:53 PM »
1900 sounds about right. At least, that's the absolute earliest date it could be, so there's a date constraint.
Can you post a few pictures? Key style can help pinpoint down a date.

The "AA" most likely does NOT mean Ab. The Ab sopranino clarinet is exceedingly rare, and I don't think Thibouville even made any, especially that early.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline SW

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2017, 07:31:44 PM »
I hope these help!  Thank you.

Offline Tinker73

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2017, 08:05:42 PM »
That is a beautiful and rare Legion D' Honneur in full boehm!  With the 68 R Reaumur address listed on the bell I believe it will date pre-1910, but I need to check back through my notes I have on a JTL piccolo I was researching, if I recall this address was used from the early 1890's until 1910.  So I would say your build period would have been 1901-1910.  The seven ring mechanism used on this clarinet could possibly narrow your date a little closer, but it is possible that JTL used this style through the 1910 period.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 09:55:59 PM by DaveLeBlanc »
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Offline Windsong

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2017, 08:20:05 PM »
What a fantastic specimen!  An early, full Boehm, for sure.
Thank you for sharing that.
That clarinet is worth whatever you may wish to pour into its restoration.
Expert bubblegum welder, and Pedler Pedler.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2017, 09:56:28 PM »
That is absolutely wonderful. Full Boehms are already hard to come by just as a general rule!
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline SW

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2017, 08:57:30 AM »
I very much  appreciative of all this great information.  In my research, I've learned that Alexander Alfred Acoulon was CEO of JTL.  Could this be why the "AA" appears on the bottom of the bell?   I also found a bio that said Acoulon was awarded The Chevalier of Legion of Honor, 1900, but I've been unable to verify that thru Legion of Honor records.  If true, I wondered if that had any relationship to the reference of "Legion D'Honnur" on the top of the bell?     Does anyone know what the reference to Brevettes GOG might be?  This was the hardest line to read, so my spelling may be off.      This is a very personal search.   Very late in life  (after age 50),  I learned I was adopted as a baby.  After a 10 year search, I found my birth father last fall, still living at nearly 90.  During a second visit with him last month, he gave me this clarinet from my great-GF.     It was meaningful to me as I played clarinet in HS and college, so it gave me such a meaningful  link with my great-GF and  family  that I never knew.     I'm told my G-GF  played in the Marine Corp band, so I'm furiously researching that too!   I can't thank everyone enough for the insights.

Offline Windsong

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2017, 04:16:46 PM »
The GOG you refer to probaby actually says SGDG, which stands for "Sans Garantie Du Gouvernment", and was found on a good many instruments of the time.  It meant precisely that the government made no guarantee for it, whatsoever.
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2017, 08:02:30 PM »
-Interesting information about the JTL CEO and the Legion D'honneur association. I have been lucky to come by two Legion D'honneur models that are standard 17/6 Boehm models and one has the "AA" on the bell, but the other one has "AC" on the bell. Other than that the bell marks are the same on those two and the same as this bell on your Grandfather's clarinet.

The unibody construction is a better way to build a wooden clarinet, IMO. There are frequently problems at the joint tenon and socket on two part Boehms, and even more problems when there is an articulated C#. The single piece construction is structurally superior even if it needs a long case.

There are a number of extra bells and whistles on that one. It is certainly a rare clarinet in construction and key features. The condition is just exceptional. It is very well preserved. I would get some top shelf pads on that one and play it. It's bound to play circles around most other clarinets of any period.

It is typical of that period before WW1 for clarinets to not have serial numbers. One Legion / M.R. Verney model I have has a serial number, but this is very likely a later model and has some keys that are not quite the same as the JTL models circa 1900. The last date on the bell credits is 1900 on these so these are post 1900, but before the M.R. Verney models that have serial numbers.

Are there any pitch and key marks, such as Bb or LP anywhere? At that time most clarinets had those kind of marks on them.
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline modernicus

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2017, 08:07:55 PM »
Fascinating story!  This looks to be a unibody in the key of A,  besides what was already mentioned.  Superb instrument of its era in terms of features, also JTL build/materials/finish quality is second to none in my opinion.
If you ain't got 'em, that's why you need 'em...

Offline SW

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2017, 04:59:35 PM »
Thanks again to everyone for all your insight!    I have looked everywhere for some kind of mark on the body and under keys, etc.   I can't see any.   Appreciate any tips for where marks might typically be.     I had not paid much attention to the mouth piece, but noted tonight  it is from Penzel Mueller & Co NY.  The bracket that holds the reed is stamped 'France'.  I have noticed the barrel joint and bell have a more brown tone, while the body of the clarinet has a more black tone.   Don't know if this is just evidence of wear and age, or if this is typical?    The case (which is the original)  is a long, one piece case;   and was  designed to hold two instruments, not one.  The outside of the case is in good shape for its age;  the inside velvet certainly showing its age but it not ripped or torn.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2017, 10:00:36 PM »
Thanks again to everyone for all your insight!    I have looked everywhere for some kind of mark on the body and under keys, etc.   I can't see any.   Appreciate any tips for where marks might typically be.     I had not paid much attention to the mouth piece, but noted tonight  it is from Penzel Mueller & Co NY.  The bracket that holds the reed is stamped 'France'.  I have noticed the barrel joint and bell have a more brown tone, while the body of the clarinet has a more black tone.   Don't know if this is just evidence of wear and age, or if this is typical?    The case (which is the original)  is a long, one piece case;   and was  designed to hold two instruments, not one.  The outside of the case is in good shape for its age;  the inside velvet certainly showing its age but it not ripped or torn.
The mouthpiece can either be of help or be a dead end; if it's a later replacement then it's entirely useless for id and dating purposes for the most part.

You said that you have a double one piece case? That is quite incredible. I don't think I've ever seen a long double case, only the typical broken-down double cases. Very interesting.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2017, 10:19:45 PM »
Brown bell with black joints is common on JTL Legion D'honneur models. The barrels are generally as dark as the joints, but variation would not surprise me. The two tone look, particularly the lighter wood bell, is not uncommon on other French clarinets of the period including Couesnon and Martin Freres, as well as many more makers. The look was imitated often by USA makers, for example the professional Harry Bettoney model.

In one JTL catalog, the materials of the Legion are listed as "ebené ou gren.". It is plausible that there were ebony bodies with grenadilla bells, or just darker contrasting grenadilla. One of mine has suspiciously tight very black grain. The Legion D'honneur was also made in hard rubber, and in 1902, the hard rubber one was the most expensive model.

Markings for the key and pitch standard are usually at the top or bottom of the joints on the front. On the bottom joint it is sometimes beneath the Bb tone hole. JTL commonly marked with a "Bb" and "LP", sometimes one mark per joint. With a one piece body? Look it over with a magnifier and let me know. I've never seen one like this up close. Later ones might not have those marks at all. After the pitch was standardized at A=440, there was no reason to mark them. If there aren't any of pitch standard marks, that could help you narrow down the date roughly.

I know that there are no pitch marks on my M.R. Verney Legion model. And it has a serial number. It also has the same bell markings. Looking at the examples I've seen so far and considering the catalog information, the time sequence of the marks is: No serials but with pitch marks > Serials without pitch marks. If yours has neither a serial nor pitch marks then we can reason that it was made between the two, the model first losing the pitch marks and then later being serialized. Of course I would want to see at least a few more with no serial and no pitch marks and look at all the features side by side before I would commit to any time sequence.  This one is so unique that there is just not too much to compare it to directly. Perhaps examples in museums or private collections.

One thing that is quite curious to me is the trill guide. It's a small detail;- not the common JTL guide in my experience.
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline SW

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2017, 07:09:19 PM »
Dave, to me the case is a 'double case', but I might simply not know what I'm talking about!      Case is 20" L x 6 1/2 " W x 4 1/2 T.    It sure appears by the "brackets" on both ends - that it was meant to hold 2 clarinets.    I've put the vintage and my old Eb side by side.  Still cannot find marks.  Pretty confident it is not hard plastic as was referenced by another writer.     Under magnifying glass,  I can see "grain" in the main body portion - it's just has a darker/black tone, where the bell and barrel joint have softer/brown tone.     I am planning on having  the clarinet restored, so perhaps a restorer can find the marks!

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Requesting info about a Thibouville clarinet
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2017, 09:17:20 PM »
That is incredible, beautiful and quite valuable. Just the case itself is probably worth as much as some entire clarinets!
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages