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Author Topic: A baffling pre-Balanced Tone Selmer  (Read 857 times)

Offline Windsong

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A baffling pre-Balanced Tone Selmer
« on: May 18, 2024, 07:13:12 PM »
I bought a nice French-made Selmer for a song at a curiosity shop today--serial: X56xx 

It's my first Selmer, so I have no experience with them, but I have reason to doubt the prevailing serial number lists on-line, because keywork does not jibe with the time it was supposedly manufactured--1972.  I also notice there is no series listed on the instrument (series 9, 10, etc.)

The wood is fantastic, very tight-grained (heavy!) and crack free, and everything is present, aligned and operational, including the lig, MP and cap. 

It does NOT have nickel capped tenons.
It has an original, 1910-1940s era thumbrest, a stamped trill key guide, and only 3 trill posts on the top joint (but 2 posts for the lower joint trills.)

Keywork is nice, but not special or unique.  It's typical, nickel silver.

I have a very hard time believing it was made in 1972.

What do you think?
(Photos forthcoming when possible)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2024, 03:12:50 PM by Windsong »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2024, 06:10:59 AM »
In my opinion there's about a zero percent chance it was manufactured that late. That it doesn't have a "series" number or other model designation also indicates it must be an older model.

I agree with your thumbrest assessment - it's gotta be from the 30s or 40s, no later. Serial number lists are sometimes very suspect. I had a Selmer alto clarinet once that had a serial number that indicated 1898, but it was actually made around the 1960s.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Offline Windsong

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2024, 03:07:21 PM »
Thanks Dave.  Here are more photos, now that I am back from the mountains.  Reception was not good, and transmission of files, random.

It certainly looks like 1930s keywork to me.  I picked it up because I was thinking 1937 or so.  It is a cherry.  I came home, plugged in my favorite MP, and she played, top to bottom.  Very nice sound.  Mellow; not authoritative, but controlled.  Not as loud or bright as a PM, but easier to tame.  This would have been like Benny's early horns.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2024, 03:15:28 PM by Windsong »
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Offline 350 Rocket

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2024, 06:59:53 PM »
The stamping on the bell narrows it down, since it says both New York and Elkhart.

Selmer established their presence in Elkhart in 1927, so it's no earlier than that. I don't recall how many years they kept including "New York" in addition, but I don't think it was for very long.

Maybe the "X" is a different indicator of some sort, and not actually part of the serial number itself. According to the available chart, there was a run of four-digit unprefixed serial numbers from 1927-31, and if the "X" is ignored, this would fit in that period quite nicely.

A gentleman by the name of Douglas Pipher has been researching Selmer Paris history using the factory archives. His focus has been on saxophones but I recall him implying at one point that he is or will be looking into clarinets as well. I don't know if Selmer themselves would respond to an inquiry.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2024, 07:03:11 PM by 350 Rocket »
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2024, 09:30:00 AM »
Thank you, Rocket.  That certainly sounds right to me.  There is literally nothing on this clarinet that speaks to 1972, IMO.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2024, 07:26:42 PM by Windsong »
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Offline Windsong

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« Last Edit: May 21, 2024, 01:02:41 AM by Windsong »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2024, 04:28:20 AM »
That skinny little bridge key looks just speaks mid-30s to me, at least. I'm sure we'll narrow this down eventually!
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Offline Windsong

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2024, 06:59:06 AM »
Indeed.  I found the gent you mentioned, and I thank you again for the recommendation.  More research points to the possibility that this may be an early Balanced Tone, before they went to the hexagonal speaker vent.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2024, 12:54:56 PM by Windsong »
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A baffling Selmer
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2024, 01:02:19 PM »
I found a "B" batch mark behind the pinky cluster today.
Sure looks like C1930s to me.  There is also that very nice lower joint rod key stack post lock though, and I've not found another Selmer with that yet. 
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A baffling pre Balanced Tone Selmer
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2024, 02:57:57 PM »
More research, and kindness from Selmer experts has led me to the conclusion that this Selmer was made between 1928-1934, indicated by the logo, the age-related stampings, the capped "X", (which is not at all like the 1972-1973 Model 10 "X"), and the key work.
This thing is a cream puff, in terms of condition.  The bore looks like a circular mirror, and while the exterior and tone holes were reasonably dirty, the bore actually rejected my typical bore treatment.
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