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Author Topic: besson & co clarinet  (Read 3014 times)

Offline zigzigy7

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besson & co clarinet
« on: January 11, 2018, 05:02:51 PM »
deciding to share my newest find. a london-made, LP, Besson & co clarinet from a local consignment shop. it is a plastic horn using what i believe is the simple system. what really caught my eye was the bell of the instrument, which below the faded maker's mark reads "first field brigade canadian artillery, ottawa, canada". so apparently this was a military issue clarinet for the canadian armed forces. upon further inspection i found that the barrel was quite unique, its a tuning barrel that unscrews to lengthen it. i figured i could try the barrel on another clarinet of mine but removing the barrel revealed another peculiar trait. the barrel as well as the upper tenon of the clarinet had a metal bore, making it impossible for the barrel to go onto another horn. i tried looking up the serial number (3935) but thats quite difficult considering besson was and still is primarily a brasswind manufacturer. the best i could do was a range of 1858 to 1869 with the serial number ranges of 001 to 9695. i am skeptical of that age on account of the surprising condition the clarinet is in. its still playable, no bent keys,springs work perfectly, pads still seal the holes enough to work, rubber tenon O rings still hold the clarinet together well. maybe it was just kept in good condition by previous owners, but who knows.

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 06:10:28 PM »
The features are consistent with 1890s to 1920s, and I would guess it is hard rubber or Bakelite since there was no real plastic that early. It looks gorgeous and I have not seen too many Besson woodwinds.
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline zigzigy7

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 06:15:29 PM »
if that is the case i would put my money on bakelite because from old hard rubber clarinets i have seen they become discolored over time and turn gray or brown and this clarinet has remained black

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 06:28:29 PM »
I agree with the 1890-1920 dating, on account of keystyle. After 1920 most Western instruments had Boehm system keys, for the most part.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2018, 04:35:48 PM »
The key work is quite similar to an A. Hindley clarinet that I featured on an earlier thread. this was a common type in England at the time but the name given to it escapes me. The distinguishing element is the way A and G# are laid out on the upper.

http://clarinetpages.info/smf/index.php/topic,1126.msg6286.html#msg6286

The socket rings are also similarly flat.

Bakelite was in common use after about 1915. It’s fairly easy to spot Bakelite side by side with hard rubber. While it can be scratched, it is far more resistant to light scratching than rubber and has a very crystalline sound when tapped with a hard substance and the engravings tend to have very sharp, precise lines.
 
The best looking Bakelite entire clarinets I have seen were by H. Bettoney. Many others feature Bakelite bells and barrels or mouthpieces, but usually not joints.
- Silversorcerer (David Powell) exclusively for Phil's original “The Clarinet Pages" forum

Offline Windsong

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2018, 03:41:41 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  That's a beautiful aquisition you've got there.  

Regarding the color of old Hard Rubber, I have Hard Rubber clarinets that are over 100 years old and look nearly brand new, and black as coal.  I also have samples in various shades of green and greyish-brown, as you suggest. 

Hard rubber is essentially "photographic", meaning it quite literally retains the impression of light's influence.  A perfect example of this is a hard rubber clarinet of mine which likely sat in a display window or an illuminated case for many uears without moving, and the side exposed to light is greenish brown, while the unexposed side is jet black.  Further, the obstruction of keywork shielded certain areas of the clarinet, and those areas that were shielded are not only much darker, but very approximately show the keywork shapes on the rubber, itself, which I find rather fascinating, and admittedly--amusing.

If hard rubber is kept out of the sunlight and its exposure to fluorescent light is limited, it is not prone to fading, so judging composition by lack of fading is, at best, a slippery slope, though a well exposed hard rubber clarinet is easily spotted.  

That said, the stamps on your clarinet speak to a bakelite composition, and I suspect you are right in your assessment.


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Offline zigzigy7

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2018, 04:51:02 PM »
Your explanation of hard rubber fading makes sense. I have to admit my mistake in judging purely on by color. Thank you for the info

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2018, 07:53:53 PM »
There’s an excellent, albeit destructive way to tell.
Put some ethyl alcohol on it. If it turns a nasty green, then it’s HR!
I found this out the hard way
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Irvine, California, United States

Offline morris26a

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Re: besson & co clarinet
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 09:04:23 PM »
(deciding to share my newest find. a london-made, LP, Besson & co clarinet from a local consignment shop. it is a plastic horn using what i believe is the simple system. }

I have a similar Besson Clarinet that belonged to my Father-in-law. I believe this was from the 1920s or earlier. The peculiar thing about it is that it has the term "Service Class" on the bell. I have repaired and overhauled all the keys and replaced all the pads. The original barrel had a crack and now has a Selmer barrel attached. Seems to work well until I can find a good replacement. I've been told that barrels can be interchanged between certain models and it is a personal choice. Still experimenting.

Would appreciate some info on it.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 09:07:34 PM by morris26a »