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Copyright © 2000, 2001 by Richard I. Schwartz

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In this chapter, an attempt is made to include basic information about many manufacturers of cornets in the nineteenth century. Specific information about production of cornets is included when possible. Some information about cornet production has already been discussed in Chapter 1, so that an attempt is made not to duplicate that information here.

The primary resources used for this chapter of the document were The New Langwill Index : A Dictionary of Wind-Instrument Makers and Inventors (Waterhouse 1993) and The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (Sadie, ed. 1991). The New Langwill Index is a monument of research and has entries for c6400 different manufacturers with cross references. In addition to each company’s history, many entries include company addresses, company name changes, locations of instruments in collections, a bibliography, inventions, patents, serial numbers, exhibitions, catalogues, and markings. The text also includes a list of cited collections and libraries, a chapter on "Maker’s Marks on Wind Instruments," a map of the centers of manufacture, and an extensive bibliography.

A remark must be made here with regard to the hallmark which appears on many instruments of the time period. Hallmarking of silver items in the German territories of the Holy Roman Empire had been a practice since 1548 in Augsburg. The procedure then involved sending a silver item signed by the artist to a sworn-in commission of the goldsmiths’ or trumpet-makers’ guild. This commission would verify (or not) the silver content of the item (Waterhouse 1993, xiv).

During the nineteenth century the procedure had remained very much the same. The hallmark was a small stamping applied by an authorized assayer on any given instrument to certify its content of either silver or gold. It was a punishable offense in Great Britain for almost 700 years to sell any item advertised as silver or gold unless it was stamped with such a hallmark. The signed item was first submitted to a silversmith [or goldsmith], who would stamp the item. It would then be submitted to an authorized assayer to be tested. Various markings designated different procedures. Various assayers had their own mark and various silversmiths had their own mark, as well. In London, a lion passant (facing left, with its right paw stretched outward) meant that the item was 92.5% pure sterling silver, and a leopard’s head within a shield verified London as the city of assay. There was a special mark of the profile of Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901. It was applied only after the manufacturer paid a tax on the assay from 1 December 1784 to 30 April 1890. Information for the above paragraph is extracted from the America’s Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter (Banks 1999, 4).

Markings on instruments varied in complexity from just the name and workplace to extensive markings including hallmarks, patent information, registered designs, model names and numbers, series names and how many in the series, pitch of the instrument, serial numbers, bore diameter, awards, owners, donors, importers, and even distributors and their addresses. Some instruments had no markings on them at all, and unless the owner knows the particular style of the instrument, manufacturers for these instruments are very difficult to identify. It was very common to have no markings on instruments, as many were manufactured by lesser-known firms. Often these instruments were legally adopted by importers, and stamped and sold with their own marking on them. An extensive discussion of markings, from which the above paragraph was extracted, is written by Herbert Heyde and appears in The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993, xiii-xxviii).

The Chicago based firm of Lyon & Healy (not included in this chapter) was active from 1864 to c1940. They would place their own stamp on many instruments, but not have manufactured them at all. The firm would hire subcontractors to make their instruments and even parts of instruments, and it is therefore difficult to identify manufacturers for many of them. Some instruments, however, were identified in the company’s catalogues as being by F. Jaubert & Co. of Paris (1881 and 1896 catalogues) , Joseph Higham of Manchester, England (1896 catalogue), and Henry Gunckel of Paris (1881 catalogue). These names were misleading, however, as F. Jaubert & Co. and Henry Gunckel were not manufacturers of instruments, but only trade names. In their 1896 catalogue, Lyon & Healy stated that they repair, plate, and replace old valve clusters, but did not make mention of manufacturing any instruments. The company did manufacture instruments, however, from 1923 to 1930, but is not possible to accurately document any manufacture of brass instruments by the company prior to 1923, since a significant amount of company records were lost in that year due to fire and water damage. Being a dealer and importer of instruments, J. Howard Foote (also not included in this chapter) was similar in this respect to Lyon & Healy. Foote was active in New York City between 1863 and 1896. Even though most of their instruments were made by unidentified manufacturers, it is known that Antoine COURTOIS made their Antoniophone, an instrument actually trademarked by Foote. Information for this paragraph was extracted from Antique Brass Wind Instruments (Adams 1998, 68, 86-107), The Music Men (Hazen and Hazen 1987 131) and The New Langwill Index(Waterhouse 1993, 245).

Printed resources for this chapter other than The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993) and The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (Sadie ed., 1991) used in approximate order of frequency are listed below. Any other resources are cited in the appropriate entry:

Adams, Peter H. Antique Brass Wind Instruments. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1998.

Eliason, Robert E. Early American Brass Makers. Nashville: The Brass Press, 1981.

C. G. Conn. C. G. Conn’s Truth. Elkhardt: C. G. Conn, December, 1899.

Reprint, [Ann Arbor: Jack Werner, n.d.]

Myers, Arnold and Raymond Parks. Historical Musical Instruments in the Edinburgh University Collection: Catalogue of the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. Volume 2 Part H Facsimile ii: Cornets and Tubas. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, 1994.

Eldredge, Niles. Correspondence to the author, 8 December 1999.

Woodcroft, B. Patents for Inventions: Abridgments of Specifications Related to Music and Musical Instruments A.D. 1694-1866. Second Edition. London: Office of the Commissioners of Patents for Inventions, 1871. Facsimile, London: Tony Bingham, 1984.

Banks, Margaret Downie. Elkhart’s Brass Roots: An exhibition to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Conn’s birthday and the 120th Anniversary of the Conn Company. Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1994.

Newsome, Roy. Brass Roots: A Hundred Years of Brass Bands and their Music, 1836-1936. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 1998.

Hazen, Margaret Hindle and Robert M. Hazen. The Music Men: An Illustrated History of Brass Bands in America, 1800-1920. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987.

Farrar, Lloyd. "Ferdinand Coeuille: Maker of The Telescope Cornets and Trumpets." ITG Journal (December 1988): 40-45.

Stewart, Gary M. Keyed Brass Instruments in the Arne B. Larson Collection. Volume 1. Edited by André P. Larson. Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1980.


Entries for the following manufacturers of nineteenth-century cornets appear in this chapter:




(Sturbridge, MA c1838-1841; Boston 1842-1845; Norwich, CT 1846-1851; Boston 1852-1861; New York 1862-1872)

Joseph Lathrop Allen (b Holland, MA 24 Sept 1815; d c1905) made keyed brass instruments in Sturbridge with his first known instrument of 1839 being a bugle with nine keys in Eb. It was made of copper with brass keys and trim. His first valved instrument was a Bb trumpet with Vienna valves built in Boston in 1842. The valve combinations are of the old type, i.e., the first valve lowers the instrument a half step, the second a whole step, and the third a minor third. In 1845, Allen made an A cornet for Harvey Dodworth. It was an over-the-shoulder bell-up five valve rotary cornet in A and was given to him by members of his band. He used it for over forty years as leader of the Dodworth Band of New York City, played it for over twenty-five years in Central Park Concerts, and for ten presidential inaugurations (Ayars 1969, 224). In Boston, Allen made valved post horns, valved trumpets, trombones, ophicleides, and bugles (Eliason 1981, 15). In c1850, he designed a new rotary valve with string linkage, sold and repaired instruments of all kinds, sold sheet music, and was the agent for "Doct. Fontaine’s Balm of Thousand Flowers," a balm which was warranted to prevent hair loss (Eliason 1981, 18). His rotary valves were smaller in diameter and longer than the usual rotaries. The inside shape of the tubes within the valves were oval in shape and half the diameter of the usual valve tubes. This oval shape started in the tubes before the air entered the valves. The string linkage was unique, as well. The string linkage was tried first, however, by Thomas D. PAINE in 1848, and became rather popular with American manufacturers (Eliason 1981, 18-19). Allen was endorsed by Harvey B. Dodworth of New York (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 134).

Between 1852 and 1857, he was partners with Benjamin F. Richardson (b Sudbury, MA c1823; d Cambridge, MA 26 Mar 1894) and the company was known as "Allen & Richardson" (Waterhouse 1993, 6). In c1855, Allen made an over-the-shoulder cornet in Ab with five Allen rotary valves. The right hand played three valves while the left hand could lower the instrument to F or Eb by pressing the fourth or fifth valve respectively. This German-silver instrument was made for Harvey B. Dodworth, who promoted the instrument and gave a boost to Allen’s business (Eliason 1981, 19). A cornet built by Allen was represented at the Fifteenth Exhibition of the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute (1857) in Chicago. It was displayed by Messeurs Truax & Baldwin and was considered to be of superior workmanship by the judging committee. Between 1858 and 1860, the company was known as the Allen Mfg. Co.

Between 1861 and 1863, Allen’s partnership with DAVID C. HALL was known as "Allen & Hall." In 1865, David C. Hall and Benjamin F. Quinby bought the tools and stock of "Allen & Hall," and with George Quinby became known as "Hall & Quinby" until 1869 (Waterhouse 1993, 158).


Allen valves were made by DAVID C. HALL and "B. F. Richardson" well after each one broke up their professional relationship with Allen. Allen made instruments for Dodworth beginning in 1865 under the name, "J. L. Allen & Co." In 1868, Allen’s partnership with Fischer was known as "Allen & Fischer." Later in his life, he worked in many trades including instrument maker, machinist (1886), alarms (1871), sup[erintendant] (1880-81), inspector (1891), and stereopticons (1897).

Main references for this entry were Early American Brass Makers (Eliason 1981) and The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993). Other references are listed throughout the entry.

Jean Baptiste Arban


The contributions of Jean Baptiste Arban (b Lyon 28 Feb 1825; d Paris 9 Apr 1889) to teaching and performing the cornet are well-known, but not so with his contributions to its manufacture. He was a significant innovator for the instrument. In 1846, he worked for Adolphe Sax, to whom he gave advice about production of his Saxhorns. Arban demonstrated the "cornet compensateur" of Adolph Sax in 1848, as well. While a cornet professor at the Paris Conservatory in 1880, Arban developed a new model cornet and had it patented in 1883 as the "cornet Arban" (FR #158625). A year after its patent, he announced that it could be legally copied by anyone, and Antoine COURTOIS did build the "cornet Arban" at a later date and a mouthpiece named after him as well, the "embouchure Arban-Courtois." The COURTOIS-Arban cornet had an interesting and unique appearance. The leadpipe curved, as usual, back to the player before entering the third valve casing, but made an additional curve through the loop of the third valve slide before entering the third valve (Eldredge 1999). In 1886, he tried to make his "nouveau cornet-Arban" required at the Conservatory, but it was rejected.

Between the years of 1883 and 1888, Arban experimented with improving the construction of the cornet, and after 1885, Arban collaborated with L. Bouvet, a civil engineer, in making brass instruments. They patented an "Arban-Bouvet cornet" in 1885 (FR # 171296) and had two improved patents for the same instrument in 1888, one registered in Great Britain (GB #10055) and one in France (FR #189106). The "Arban & Bouvet" company was officially established in 1889 (and apparently for one year only) so they could display instruments at the Paris Exposition of the same year. François Millereau’s firm produced their instruments. Millereau was active in Paris from 1861 until 1931, when H. Selmer bought out the ailing company, using Millereau’s name on instruments until c1938 (Waterhouse 1993, 265).

François Sudre, an apprentice working for E. Daniel’s firm in Marseille, built a compensating valve for brass instruments in 1884, the "Arban-compensateur" (Waterhouse 1993, 80).

References for the above were The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993) and Correspondence (Eldredge 1999). Other references are listed throughout the entry.

Arban-Bouvet cornets include the marking: (Myers and Parks 1994, 14)


                JB [monogram]

        le seul adopté


            L. Bouvet


    Rue Michel Birot 182



        CORNET ARBAN (Tarr [1985], 50)

                    AB [monogram]

    Système L. Bouvet Ingenieur

    Fournisseur du Conservatoire

            10 rue Popincourt

                     Paris [cursive]


Besson (Paris)

(1837/8 – a1957)

When he was only ten years old, Gustave Auguste Besson (b Paris 1820; d Paris 1874) was an apprentice with Dujarier. The company was listed as Dujarier in Twentieth Century Brass Musical Instruments in the United States (Dundas 1986, 8) and in Edward H. Tarr ("Besson," in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments). It is interesting to note that the dates of Besson’s apprenticeship actually corresponds more closely with the dates of another manufacturer, Dujariez. E. J. M. Dujariez had an active brass manufacturing firm from 1829 to 1855 and displayed its wares at the Paris Expositions of 1834 and 1855. The Paris Conservatory approved Dujariez’ improved "cor solo" in 1831. The only information in The New Langwill Index about H. P. A. Dujarier is that he was an inventor for brass instruments in Paris (no date) and invented an Eb bugle with "early type" piston valves as early as 1819 (Waterhouse 1993, 97). The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993, 97), states that Dujariez was a pupil of [Lucien-Joseph] Raoux, but according to Tarr ("Besson," The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments), Dujarier was that pupil. The Besson company began in 1838, and possibly as early as 1837, by Gustave Auguste Besson. In 1838, he had already manufactured a new cornet and in 1845, participated in the litigation with thirty-three other manufacturers against Adolphe Sax for having an exclusive contract making instruments for the British War Ministry. In c1850, the famous Alexandre Le Forestier apprenticed with Besson (Paris). Le Forestier later worked for COURTOIS neveu aîné, J. HIGHAM, and J. W. PEPPER before opening his own shop in c1896, known as "A. Leforestier & Son & Co." in Philadelphia. In 1853, Besson patented improvements to brass manufacture (FR #17702) and the "Besson valve" (GB #328). In 1854, some of Besson’s instruments were seized as the result of a possible violation of patents held by Adolphe Sax. Underlying reasons for seizure was perhaps a result of the earlier litigation, or because Adolphe Sax was financially damaged by the banning of his woodwind instruments by the republican government of 1848. Adolphe’s resulting bankruptcy in 1852 was short lived, however, since in 1854, he was appointed "facteur de la Maison militaire de l’Empereur," a title which certainly gave Sax quite a bit of clout with the government, so that he could more freely pursue his legal actions against Besson and thirty-three other firms (see page 9 in this document).

In 1858, Gustave transferred all of his assets to his wife, to safeguard against any financial difficulties which might result from possible legal actions Adolphe Sax might take against him. Gustave also left Paris to build a factory in London in 1858 (see next entry). In 1861, the law suit was finally settled in Sax’s favor for defamation of character. The amount of the settlement, however, is not specified in The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993, 30). By 1873, Besson had factories in Paris and London, and depots in many other cities including Bruxelles, Charleroi, Madrid, and Barcelona. After his death in 1874, his wife and two daughters, Cécile and Marthe were owners. After the death of his wife in 1875, Marthe was proprietor and had exclusive control over patents in 1878. Marthe continued to run the business in Paris and London, even after her marriage to Adolphe Fontaine. The name of the company changed to Fontaine-Besson in c1880.

Many new instruments were produced including a new model cornet with transposing "barillets," or "small barrel-shaped valves" in 1882, and in 1887, the company patented the "cornet à double effet" (FR #180971). Adolphe Fontaine participated in the business, since he secured a patent for the Cornophone in 1890 (GB #16358). Marthe, however, sued for divorce in the 1890’s due to her husband’s violent behavior, and she left for London to run both plants from there. His violent behavior was also the cause of a strike by ninety-five of the employees, which caused a six week lock-out in the Paris plant in 1894. By 1894, the Paris plant were 145 workers strong and had already made a total of about 50,000 instruments! With their "prototype" steel mandrel process developed in 1856, the Besson company was able to make many finely and consistently produced instruments. Their "straight bore" development of 1854 allowed air to freely move from one valve to another and improved intonation. Their "full bore" piston system of 1855 improved the air passage, and thus, the response on instruments. The "prototype" steel mandrel process "marked the birth of modern instrument manufacture" (Edward H. Tarr, "Besson," in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments). It should be mentioned that Besson also patented the "enharmonic" valve on 12 May 1904 (GB #12849).

Besson (Paris) was represented at many Expositions in the nineteenth century including the 1844, 1855, 1867,1878, 1889, and 1900 Expositions in Paris; the 1851, 1862, 1885, and 1890 Expositions in London ; the 1865 Exposition in Dublin; and the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (Waterhouse 1993, 30). Sole selling agents in the United States for BESSON (London) include Louis Schreiber (Eldredge 1999).

After 1910, Mathilde Sabatier, Besson’s granddaughter, became owner. In the 1930’s, SML or "Strasser Margaux & Lemaire" produced Besson (Paris) instruments with Aubertin, Sr. and Jr., making the valves, bells, and final assembly. Besson moved its factory to St. Denis after World War II. In 1957, Couesnon bought the firm, and it has been in private hands since c1973 (Edward H. Tarr, "Besson," in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments).

The main references used for the above were The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993) and Edward H. Tarr, "Besson," in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Many other references are listed throughout the entry.

Generally, markings on cornets include the following information:

[Number] MEDAILLES D’HONNEUR [in scroll]    Number of medals varies from

                                    FR [monogram]          26, 28, 31, to 35 from 1869 to c1887

                            F. BESSON

                            BREVETÉE                     Monogram is clearly FR on instruments,

                92 RUE D’ANGOULÊME              not FB as indicated in Waterhouse!


                   (w or w/o 5 pointed star)

Above marking from personal correspondence (Eldredge 1999)


SYSTÊME MONOPOLE [in scroll] (Waterhouse 1993, 30)

                FB [monogram]                 FB is correct here, as address changed to

        F. BESSON                             96 Rue D’Angoulême in 1889





      (5 pointed star)


(Waterhouse 1993, 30):

        SYSTÊME PROTOTYPE [in scroll]

                        FR [monogram]                     FR changes to FB in c1895:

                F. BESSON                     from personal correspondence (Eldredge 1999)


                    S.G.D.G.                                                     address changes to

      92 RUE D’ANGOULÊME                       96 RUE D’ANGOULÊME in 1889:

                    PARIS                         from personal correspondence (Eldredge 1999)

    (w or w/o 5 pointed star)    and The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993, 30)

       [registered in 1887]


Brass serial numbers for Besson (Paris) in the nineteenth century: (Eldredge 1999)


1874     10000

  1.     14000

1879      21000

  1.     24143
  1.     26000

1884      30000

1887      36000

1889      40000

1893/4   50000

1901      68000

1905      69000

1910      77000

A conventional set of serial numbers for Besson appears at: (Cherry 1999).

The site actually offers the conventional set which more closely corresponds to Besson (London) than Besson (Paris).

Niles Eldredge has investigated hundreds of Besson and Courtois instruments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has provided the author of this document with two different sets of serial numbers for Besson instruments (London and Paris). Each set differs slightly from the conventional set found at the sight above. Each set also differs slightly from the other in terms of the sequence of serial numbers. See Besson (London) below for comparison. It is interesting to note that the conventional list and the Besson (London) list match very closely. In the past, there has not been any differentiation made between the serial number lists for Besson (Paris) and Besson (London). The two lists for Besson in this document provide such an important resource.


Besson (London)



A London branch of the Besson company had opened in 1840, but it was not until 1858 that a factory was built here by Gustave himself. Between the years of 1840 and 1855, Besson was sold at the address of John Pask, and from 1855 to 1858, at that of Louis Jullien in London. Besson (London) was represented at the London Exposition of 1862 and 1885. In 1864, Florentine Besson, Gustave’s wife, patented four cornets (GB #618). The first cornet was in C that could descend to B, Bb, A, Ab, G, Gb, F, E, and Eb in such a manner that intonation was true throughout and it produced the same tone regardless of the key of the shank (Woodcroft 1984, 418). This was accomplished with a combination of slides, shanks, and crooks. The second cornet was in Db that could descend to Ab on the same principle as the cornet in C. The third was a soprano cornet in Eb that could descend to Bb on the same principle, and the fourth cornet was in Bb which, by means of the second tuning slide, could play in A or Ab with the Bb shank without changing the hand position or the distance of the instrument to the lip (Woodcroft 1984, 418).

By 1894, the plant employed 131 workers, producing 100 brass instruments per week. 10,000 bands were on their contact list by that year (Herbert 1991, 185). In 1896, Besson achieved the status of a "Limited Company," and by 1910, they professed to have a larger workforce than any other British maker of musical instruments. In 1925, Besson bought Quilter, and in 1940, Wheatstone & Co. (Waterhouse 1993, 30).

In 1948, Boosey & Hawkes bought the British company. Today the Edgware facility has moved to a new location near Watford, England and the instruments are being distributed by Boosey & Hawkes.

References for the above were The New Langwill Index(Waterhouse 1993), Correspondence (Eldredge 1999), Abridgements of Patents (Woodcroft 1999), Bands (Herbert 1991), and "Boosey and Hawkes" e-mail (Sizer 1999). Other references are listed throughout the entry.

Generally, markings on cornets include the following information:


                FR [monogram] (Eldredge 1999)

        F. BESSON    





      7 RUE DES





[Number] MEDALS OF HONOUR [in scroll] Number of medals varies from 25,

                                FR[monogram]                 28 to 31 from a1869 to ?1887

                        F. BESSON                                     (Eldredge 1999)


                198 EUSTON ROAD


                    (5 pointed star)


    40 [or 50] MEDALS OF HONOUR [in scroll] (Eldredge 1999)

                            FB [monogram]

                    BESSON & CO.


                198 EUSTON ROAD


                    (5 pointed star)


Brass serial numbers for Besson (London)Company in the nineteenth century:

(Eldredge 1999)


1858        000

1876        14000 [author’s Note: conventional number is c17000]

1887        36000

1893/4     52000

1895        55000

1900        68000

1903/4     78000



(London 1851-1930)

The Boosey family had emigrated to England from France in the first half of the fifteenth century. The firm was originally started in 1792 by Thomas Boosey, [Sr.] (Newsome 1998, 95). He began by selling imported scientific and educational books, and soon thereafter, music books and scores. The business was so lucrative that Thomas, Jr.(b c1795) became manager of the music and bookseller portion of the business in 1816 (Mathez 1994, 81). From 1816 to 1854, the company was known as Thos. Boosey & Co.. During this time, in1851, the firm began to manufacture instruments. For ten years, beginning in 1854, the company was known as Boosey & Sons and for the rest of the nineteenth century, the company was known as Boosey & Co.. In 1868, Boosey bought DISTIN & Co. and hired David James Blaikley (b London 13 July 1846; d London 29 Dec 1936) as manager. On 14 November 1878, Blaikley patented a "compensating" valve system (GB #4618), while still working for Boosey. Blaikley was a great innovator, patenting many manufacturing improvements over the years. In 1884, he patented the "water-escape" system for brass instruments (GB #4542), a trombone tuning slide in 1891 (GB #9989), a double horn with compensating valves in 1912 (GB #28599), and a brass valve in 1922 (Waterhouse 1993, 34). Blaikley worked for Boosey until 1930, when the firm merged with Hawkes to form Boosey & Hawkes. William A. Pond of New York was a distributor of Boosey instruments in the late nineteenth century (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 130).

In 1879, Thomas’ son, John (b c1832; d 1893) became owner of the firm and in the same year added reed instruments to their line of instruments, with the famous Eugène Albert advising the firm in c1880. In 1893, John was replaced by Arthur Boosey (d 1919), and a year later the firm had employed 100 workers. In the late nineteenth century, the firm published popular music such as the ballad, concentrating it efforts later on educational music (D. J. Blaikley, "Boosey & Hawkes," in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments). In 1913 the plant burned, but was quickly rebuilt and enlarged. In 1919, the company was owned by Leslie Boosey, and in 1930, it merged with HAWKES to form Boosey & Hawkes.

Among the exhibitions attended by the company was the London exhibitions of 1862 and 1885 (Waterhouse 1993, 40).

References for the above include The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993), (Mathez 1994), Brass Roots (Newsome 1998), The Music Men (Hazen and Hazen 1987), and D. J. Blaikley, "Boosey & Hawkes," in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Other references are listed throughout the entry.

Company markings on brass instruments include: (Waterhouse 1993, 40)

            BOOSEY & CO.



Company markings on cornets include:

            BOOSEY & CO. (Myers and Parks 1994, 27)

                CLASS A

[trumpet and banner trademark]

            LIGHT VALVE

            BOOSEY & CO.


        295 REGENT STREET




Serial numbers:

(Myers and Parks 1994, 39, et al.)

18333 c1875

39238 c1890

(Allied n.d., 228 unles Myers and Parks)

39632 1891

40049 1891 (23 July) (Myers and Parks 2000, 45)

41506 1892

43393 1893

45080 1894

46572 1895

47880 1896

48334 1896 (8 May) (Myers and Parks 2000, 57)

49539 1897

51590 1898

52880 1898 (22 Aug) (Myers and Parks 2000, 46)

53692 1899 (12 Feb) (Myers and Parks 2000, 38)

53895 1899

56375 1900

59198 1901

61677 1902

64179 1903

66495 1904

67544 1905 (Myers and Parks 1998, 58)

71718 1906

73814 1907

75600 1908

77423 1909

79257 1910

82500 1911 (Myers and Parks 1998, 33)

83688 1912

85996 1913

88523 1914

93415 1915

98316 1916

100679 1917

103019 1918 (9 Mar) (Myers and Parks 2000, 49)

104183 1919

107383 1920 (20 Apr) (Myers and Parks 2000, 39)


Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory

(Boston 1869-1919)


This company was formed from the amalgamation of two companies, GRAVES & Co. and E. G. WRIGHT & Co. in 1869 and was located on Sudbury Street from 1869 to 1871. The original group of workers for (and partners in) the company included Henry Esbach, Louis F. Hartman, George M. Graves, William Graves, Elbridge G. Wright, and William G. Reed (Robert E. Eliason, "Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory." In The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments). The firm produced relatively few models of high quality brass instruments (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 136). The company presented instruments at Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics’ Association Conventions (1865 and 1869), the Middlesex Mechanics’Association Convention (1867), and the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanics’ Association Convention (1871). Graves was, unfortunately, disabled by a stroke and left the company in 1870 to work for "Hall and Quinby." Graves died in 1871. In 1913, the company reorganized under the name of "Boston Musical Instrument Company," and in 1919 it was bought by the Cundy-Bettoney Co. (Waterhouse 1993, 42). At the turn of the century, the company was renowned for its famous "Three Star Cornet," perhaps one of the premiere cornets available at the time.

References for the above were The New Langwill Index (Waterhouse 1993) and Robert E. Eliason, "Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory" in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Other references are listed throughout the entry.


Serial numbers: (Schmitt 1999)

  1. 6200     1891 11135
  2. 6638     1892 11576
  3. 7064     1893 12018
  4. 7490     1894 12460
  5. 7916     1895 12901
  6. 8342     1896 13343
  7. 8768*    1897 13785
  8. 9249     1898 14226
  9. 9730     1899 14668*
  10. 10212   1900 15022
  11. 10693*  1901 15367

Serial numbers:  (Stewart 2001)

1902  15731                 1911  19211

1903  16085                 1912  19519

1904  16439*               1913  19840

1905   16937                1914  20113*

1906   17435                1915  20470

1907   17933                1916  20820

1908   18287*              1917  21170

 and                               1918  21570

1908   18431*               1919  21920

1909   18595                 1920  22270

1910    18903

Numbers with asterisks (*) on both lists are actual dated instruments, others are interpolations. The author of this document has located Boston 3-Star cornets with serial numbers as early as c1903 that have the marking "Boston Musical Instrument Company." This seems to indicate that the firm may have changed names to "Company" as early as c1902. This information is confirmed by e-mail correspondence with Robb Stewart. Many rotary valve and some piston valve instruments have no serial numbers. The highest serial number known to Robb Stewart is 25206. According to Stewart, Cundy-Bettoney purchased the firm in c1914 and continued operation until at least 1928 (Stewart 2001).


The company offered the following cornet models in their 1869 catalogue: (Adams 1998, 38-43)

  1. Top action rotary valve "corno" in Bb ( not piston-like rotary valve as with FISKE ) with the bell extending forward underneath the instrument
  2. Eb cornet with four top action rotary valves (or Eb cornet with three side action rotary valves)
  3. Bb cornet with four side action rotary valves in brass or German silver
  4. Périnet three-valve Bb cornet in brass or German silver
  5. Bell-up Top action rotary three-valve Bb (or Eb) cornet [also Helicon shape]
  6. Top action rotary three-valve Bb (or Eb) cornet, bell up in brass or German silver
  7. Over the shoulder top action rotary valve cornet in Bb (or Eb) in brass or German silver
  8. Side action rotary valve cornet [trumpet] in Bb
  9. Side action rotary valve cornet in Bb (or Eb)

Prices average $50.00 for brass and $60.00 for German Silver cornets

The company offered the following cornet models in their 1874 catalogue: (Adams 1998, 44-47)

Although this catalogue offers either a top or side action Eb Pocket cornet, a Bb Echo cornet, a top action rotary or Périnet valve Bb cornet, the widest selection of cornets was for the side (or top) action rotary valve Eb cornet (bell front or over-the-shoulder). It was offered in brass, German silver, silver plate, or pure silver and their prices ranged from $45.00 (brass) to $160.00 for pure silver. Gold plating was also available.


A fragment of the firm’s 1887? catalogue is discussed in Antique Brass Wind Instruments (Adams 1998, 48-49) and contains the following two cornets:

  1. Périnet valve "Echo" cornet in Bb with 3 Périnet valves and a side action rotary to operate the echo mechanism. The echo funnel is facing the performer [!]
  2. Side action rotary valve cornet in C, Bb, and A with water key ($55 Brass, $65 German Silver, $65 Silver Plate)

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