Couesnon double walled metal clarinet

Discussion in 'Other Makes and Models' started by Chris J, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Chris J

    Chris J

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    A new addition to the collection really hits the inner Couesnon geek in me. Last week I picked up from repair a double walled metal clarinet. It is very pretty.

    [​IMG]

    What is interesting to me, is that it was made in the same year as a single walled Couesnon metal clarinet I had - 1930.

    [​IMG]

    Side by side they look like this

    [​IMG]

    Which is exactly how they are shown in the 1934 catalogue I have.

    [​IMG]

    The double walled two piece body clarinet is model 1206, and the single walled one piece body, brushed finished instrument is model 1203.

    The double walled clarinet had three donor keys, all needing modification to make the instrument work. They were expertly worked on, then silver plated to match the rest of the instrument.

    Chris
     
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  2. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

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    Perhaps a stupid question, but what was the advantage of one over the other?
     
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  3. Chris J

    Chris J

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    Far from a stupid question!

    Take if back one further, why a metal clarinet at all? Surely the time and metalworking skill to make a metal clarinet makes production more complicated than a wooden one? I suppose it took off with flutes, but never really did with clarinets.

    In the market of marching bands and the forces, you can see some attraction as they are not going to split.

    And back to why a double walled one? Your guess is as good as, if not better, than mine. It adds complexity to the construction, but looks more traditional. I'll weigh them and get back on the differences there.

    I do notice that playing a single walled metal clarinet, you do need accurate finger placement as, for some reason, it seems easier to fail to cover an unringed tone hole.

    I wish I had a price list with the catalogue.

    Chris
     
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  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Hey, Chris. Do you have the price page from that catalog? It'd be interesting to see if there was a significant difference in price between the double and single.
     
  5. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

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    He mentioned that he didn't Pete.

    I wonder if I might have a price list in all those catalogues that I was sent a few years ago. I should take a look...
     
  6. Chris J

    Chris J

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    Hi Pete

    As Helen noticed, I don't have a price list. I have older Couesnon catalogues as PDFs, and metal clarinets do not feature in them.

    I would be interested to not only see how prices compare between the metal clarinets, but also how they compare with wooden ones too. There were other companies making both wooden and metal clarinets in the 1930s, Conn maybe? There may be other catalogues that give an idea of wood / metal comparison, even if not double walled. Couesnon would be competitive with price, and likely cheaper, given statements written in an American band catalogue I have from 1915

    https://memory.loc.gov/service/gdc/scd0001/2012/20121120001ca/20121120001ca.pdf

    This catalogue has a huge amount of information about Cousenon, starting on page 26 of the PDF (printed page 24). More history before the clarinet section on PDF page 62. They say Couesnon prices are lower than American made instruments because of labor costs and scale of manufacture. Couesnon clarinets were cheaper than Buffet.

    Chris
     
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  7. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

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    I just started looking through some of the vintage catalogues I was sent a few years ago. These weren't complete catalogues. They focused mainly on the saxophone sections, but on occasion clarinet pages were in included as well, as they were in this 1930-31 Jedson edition.

    jedson1930-000.jpg jedson1930-031.jpg jedson1930-032.jpg
     
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  8. Chris J

    Chris J

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    Helen, that is fantastic!

    Lots of interesting things in there. But first, it brings a smile to my face that you have posted a copy of a musical catalogue that originated from a small mining village in industrial South Yorkshire, England. I could not resist a little search, and it seems that the owner, J. W. Shaw, was the manager of the local coal pit at that time - http://www.dmm.org.uk/company/m1005.htm

    Then to the 1930/31 catalogue - the "named" instruments are made by F. Buisson, Paris. But a search of that name only comes up with it being a made up name, and imported by one particular company - Sole Distributor, Dallas London. So who knows who actually made them!

    Taking the Boehm system
    The wooden Buisson model cost £9/9/0 (9 GBP, 9 shillings and 0 pence - but remember there were 20 shillings in a pound...) so that is £9.45
    and the metal Buisson cost £12/12/0 or £12.60
    So of the Buisson models, the metal (single walled only) is 33% more than the wooden one.

    And I love the hard sell on the home brand "Jedson" models. While the Buisson is only professionally tested, the Jedson is a professional model, of outstanding merit with perfect intonation and modulation and exceptionally bright and sonorous.

    The home brand Jedson wooden model is £19/15/0 or £19.75, and so 109% or over double, the Buisson. I wonder how different it actually was...

    Interestingly, the Jedson metal clarinet is exactly the same price as the Jedson wooden one.

    The home stencilled Jedson metal clarinet is 57% more than the Buisson metal clarinet

    So from that page, this company had a metal clarinet costing 33% more than an equivalent wooden one in one range, but costing the same in its own branded instrument.

    According to http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/exchange.html - in 1930 1 USD was worth 0.21 GBP, so of the Buisson marked instruments, the wooden one was $45 and the metal one $60, with the metal and wooden "Jedson" brand both costing $94

    Chris
     
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  9. TrueTone

    TrueTone Clarinet, Sax, Oboe, History

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    I found this on the Selmer Paris site: http://www.selmer.fr/histzoom.php?id=78
    April 1928 price list, it has a premium (which interestingly isn't the same rate between all of them, it varies a bit.) on all of the metal Clarinet prices over wooden of the same keywork. I'm thinking these price lists they attached might be from a different catalog than the one that they have with them, as the catalog didn't mention the metal clarinets; it only said ebony or grenadilla, and had a lower set of prices. Link: http://www.selmer.fr/histzoom.php?id=74 For an example, my A Clarinet cost 790 franks in the first price list, but 1125 in the second.
    Additionally, on the Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, and Flutes, they still have the old logo.
     
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  10. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

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    Glad you like it Chris. There are other pages as well. I will upload them a bit later. I just have to get myself organized a bit. The next couple of days are not going to be very pleasant.
     
  11. Chris J

    Chris J

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    Helen - your last comment was ominous - thoughts are with you if times are troubled.

    Truetone
    Thanks for your links. It is great putting these pieces of the jigsaw slowly together. I agree the images seem to be from two quite different price options.

    I have a pair of metal clarinets (photos oft displayed on this forum!) from 1928. Well I think they are, with serials 23xx

    [​IMG]

    It would be great to see them in a 1928 catalogue, and the price(s) they might have cost.

    Interesting what you say about the logo too. The logo on my instruments are these:

    [​IMG]

    As for the price of your instrument, judging from the historical conversion I quoted earlier, 790 F would be equivalent to roughly $31 in 1930. For the higher price, 1125 F would have been $44

    Chris
     
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  12. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Yeah, yeah. I got the point itd_3d_ani_w60_smiles_026.gif I missed the last two sentences in your post, Chris. Sorry about that. To make up for it, you want a 1928 Selmer clarinet catalog? Here ya go (p. 17 has the horns, p. 61 has the prices). Mark's actually got several catalogs from the 1920s. That's $129 for the full Boehm and $120 for the other, provided I've got the keywork sorted right. That's $1820.73 and $1693.71, adjusted for inflation.
     
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  13. Chris J

    Chris J

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    Apology of course not needed, but the Selmer Catalogue is more than recompense!

    Some interesting detail in there. I think you are right in that I have 18M and 20M. I do like the idea they are called Selmer Master Clarinets. I didn't know they had that name.

    The price lists also may explain Truetone's observation of different prices. In the catalogue you link to, the price list relates to the wholesale price, and there is another price in the main body of the catalogue which would be the retail price a customer would pay. [edit - looking again at Truetone's links, the lower price may be special rates as "Prix du Conservatoire" and the higher price a general retail. I would imagine they would be keen to get their instruments into the conservatories, for promotion and bragging rights]

    This would mean that wooden model 18 and 20 are $93 and $102 wholesale, and $155 and $170 retail, so a markup from wholesale price of 66%.

    In the catalogue, I could not see a retail price for the metal clarinets, but if the same markup were applied, that means that to a retail customer, the price would be $215 for the FB model 20M, and $200 for the 18M.

    Using your inflation ratios, that would give an equivalent current price of
    20M; $3034.55
    18M; $2822.85

    The final point from the catalogue is I can see no reference to a clarinet in the key of A (my 20M) in either material. The FB wooden instrument carries the description that it would be useful to have the extra note to allow playing music written for an A clarinet. But no mention of selling one, or therefore whether it had a different price.

    This is a fascinating thread, packed full of great information!

    Chris
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
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  14. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Regarding the markups, that's actually not bad, based on what Chinese companies keep sending me. Their recommended markups are 100%+.

    I didn't check out the other catalogs on Mark's website. It's quite probable that one of them has the A clarinet hiding in there.

    This also reminds me that I should start asking folks to start doing some joint projects. After I finish polishing up our new forum, that is :D.
     
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  15. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    As to the advantages of a double-wall clarinet: there is really only one, and that is resistance to thermal changes. The air space in between the two walls acts as an insulator--think thermos bottle.

    The old Haynes double-wall clarinets actually had a valve into which the player could blow warm air before starting to play :)
     
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