Author Topic: Boosey & Hawkes Clarinet Vintage - Looking for more information  (Read 95 times)

Offline dancjones80

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Hi Forum

I am lloking for help in finding out some more information on a clarinet that I have found at my aunt's house. According to my mother she never knew that they even owned a clarinet. I have checked the serial numbers on the instrument via the net and found a date that this serial number was registered back in 1885. But also the mouthpiece and the bell seem to be of different manufacturers being BUFFET CRAMPON (Mouthpiece) CORTON (Bell).

We are interested to find out more regarding the history of this instrument as it dates back to 1885 and by the maths it should have only been in our family and assume it would have been bought as new.

Any help with regards to tracing serial numbers, history of purchases (as I think you would have ordered from the factory back in 1885 for an instrument like this), etc, any information possible please.

Thank you all in advance for your help.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Boosey & Hawkes Clarinet Vintage - Looking for more information
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2020, 07:34:30 PM »
Hello and welcome!

I'm afraid I have some bad news. What I see here is an incomplete, cobbled-together "frankstein" clarinet missing a section.

The bell is made of hard rubber and is marked Corton Czechoslovakia. The style suggests a 1980s vintage. Czechoslovakia ceased to exist in 1993. The discoloration suggests an earlier manufacture, so MAYBE 60s but more likely 80s.

I can't tell much about the barrel, but it appears to be plastic.

The lower body section has no marking except the serial, which doesn't really help. At least it's wood. Again the style is 1980s. You can see that there are two posts for the left hand pinky keys. Having two posts is a strictly post-1923 feature. However, the condition, key shape, and wood type mean that this clarinet MUST be between 1960 and 1990, with a 95% chance of it being in the 1980s.

The case appears to be of a 1980s style.

This is MISSING the upper section of the clarinet, and is thus incomplete. It appears that none of the pieces match up with each other.

In any case, the various pieces are NO EARLIER than 1960 and NO LATER than 1993. I'm very confident that all pieces are from the 1980s.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline dancjones80

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Re: Boosey & Hawkes Clarinet Vintage - Looking for more information
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2020, 07:11:03 AM »
My apologies I did not send the complete pictures.

After checking again, this clarinet is a B+H with the exception of the bell being labelled CORTAN.

I think this clarinet is a full set possibly, I would appreciate if you can look at the pictures I have attached again.

Like I mentioned the serial number dates back to 1885 when checking documents posted to the internet.

TIA

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Boosey & Hawkes Clarinet Vintage - Looking for more information
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2020, 09:06:13 AM »
Thanks for the new pictures, they help a lot.

I can now say with near certainty that this is a "Corton" clarinet, most likely a product from the Amati-Kraslice factory in the former Czechoslovakia.

I did some more looking and it appears that all Corton clarinets feature a somewhat discolored hard rubber bell. I myself had one in the past; due to the key shape I assumed it was an Amati clarinet with a mismatched bell. However, that bell is original to the clarinet. They were marked as both "Corton Czechoslovakia" and "Corton Foreign." I don't think there was a difference between the models.
See here:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Corton-Quality-Clarinet/254480842239?hash=item3b403d7dff:g:2FIAAOSwhQpeHTCn
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-CORTON-Beginner-Student-CLARINET-with-HARD-CASE-Untested/383620096368?hash=item59518a2170:g:z3oAAOSw~IRfAy0P

The way that I can say for CERTAIN that it is NOT a BH is due to the very unique shape of the C#/G# lever - BH products simply did not use that shape for that key at any point in their history as far as I know. Key shapes can be very indicative of maker.
(Picture 1 highlights the key in question.)
(Picture 2 shows a relatively standard BH C#/G# key with a distinctive "teardrop" shape)

Amati did on select models, and you can see this on the Corton as well as on a variant of the "Luxus" model.
(Picture 3 shows the key on the Amati Luxus)

As for the 1885 date, this is again, unfortunately quite literally impossible. There is no evidence of two posts for the LH pinky keys prior to around 1923. Nearly every Boehm system clarinet in existence with two posts simply must be post-1923, discounting, of course, the oddball experimental key systems, or those with a left hand Ab/Eb lever.
(Pictures 4 and 5 show the single and double posts, both are of Boosey clarinets of pre-23 and post-23)

The serial number unfortunately doesn't tell you much unless you can match it up to a known-correct list. I somehow doubt that Corton, or even pre-1993 Amati at all for that matter would have kept detailed serial number records.

Even for a well known, popular US brand like Conn, the charts don't always work. I had an alto clarinet that was very clearly from the 1960s with the serial "790." All the charts put this at 1890, but it was most definitively from the 1960s.

Questions for you:
1. Is the clarinet body itself marked with Czechoslovakia or England? Cortons are not marked, with only the bell stating a country.
2. How did you determine it was a BH? Cortons generally have no markings at all on the body itself.

In conclusion, I can say with high confidence that you have a 1960s-1980s Amati product called the Corton due to the evidence presented above.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 09:11:11 AM by DaveLeBlanc »
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages