What's this "stencil" thing I keep hearing about?

Discussion in 'FAQ' started by pete, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    10,649
    Likes Received:
    376
    Note that while I'm primarily using saxophones in my examples below, there are stencils of other instruments. I'm just more of a saxy guy, so you get saxy examples.

    ===========

    The term "stencil" comes from the practice of one company building an instrument for another company or storefront which would literally take a stencil of an engraving pattern and start engraving. As an example, SML made saxophones under the King Marigaux name for King Musical Instruments. The only difference between the two? The engraving (some King Marigaux had an altissimo F# key, too).

    Let's look at this with a non-musical example: Ford used to make a car called the Pinto. Ford's Mercury division made a car called the Bobcat. What's the difference? Mechanically, nothing. The headlights, taillights, and a bit of sheet metal is different. Both are going to explode if you hit 'em. In other words, pretty much a copy.

    As a better vehicle-based example that Terry would like, the Jeep, used in WWII, was originally designed by and built by Willys -- but Ford started making them when Willys couldn't keep up with demand. Willys then licensed the design to a whole bunch of companies, post WWII.

    Stencil Rules of Thumb:
    Very few (especially US) stencils were always made by one company and a stencil named one thing wasn't always from one manufacturer. This means that a Selmer New York sax could have been made by Buescher, Conn, or Martin. I've also seen the names "Acme" and "Vega" used by at least a dozen companies, each.

    American-made stencils were sometimes built with older tooling, poorer quality control, fewer features, etc. In other words, they're not as good as the horns they're stenciled from. There are exceptions, though:

    * The Selmer New York saxophones, which were primarily made by Conn and Buescher, were generally fairly high quality, but did lack rolled tone holes.
    * The Holton saxophone stencils made for Gretsch are pretty decent.
    * Conn Cavalier saxophone stencils are pretty much junk.

    European-made stencils are pretty much the manufacturer's professional horn, with the professional model's serial number, but with a different name engraved on the bell. The SML-made King Marigaux horns are a good example of this. However, there are some interesting exceptions and notes:

    * There was a company called Ditta Giglio/Santoni that made copies of other manufacturers' horns. They're actually decent copies.
    * Pierret made two saxophone models called the Parisian and Parisian Ambassador for the Olds company. While they're stencils of Pierret's pro horns, they aren't as good. The theory as to why, that I've heard most often, is that the brass used on the Parisian and Parisian Ambassador is thinner.
    * Amati used to make a saxophone called the Toneking, which was a copy of Julius Keilwerth's Toneking model -- and even had the Keilwerth "Best in the World" stamp on 'em. Keilwerth sued Amati over this.
    * Dorfler & Jurka used to make alto and tenor saxophones that looked an awful lot like Julius Keilwerth saxophones. Keilwerth sued 'em and eventually bought the company.
    * You could successfully make the argument that all Germanic-brand saxophones produced prior to WWII are copies of Conn saxophones. Some of them are really good copies, but they're copies. Not stencils.

    --------------

    I'm also going to mention Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese horns in passing. You're going to have to do your own research on this.

    * "House-brand" instruments -- say, you go to Wal*Mart and they have Wal*Mart branded saxophones -- can come from the same supplier. In other words, your Wal*Mart-brand saxophone might not be any different from the Target-brand saxophone. If you like the horn, buy it where it's the cheapest.
    * There have been a few companies that design their own instruments, but farm out production to an Asian company. That's not exactly "stenciling," though.
    * There have been some companies that put their name on horns made in Asia and call it their own. The Julius Keilwerth ST-90 saxophones (IIRC, the "II" through "IV") are completely made in Taiwan (R.O.C.). There may be some Keilwerth design elements, but not much other input.
    * Some big instrument names have their own companies in another Asian country. Yamaha, for instance, has a plant in Indonesia. However, there is no real difference between a YAS-23 made in Japan or in Indonesia. P. Mauriat and Cannonball, IIRC, used to contract out all their horns, but eventually bought their own factories in Taiwan.
    * There are an awful lot of "counterfeit" instruments made in China. Some are obvious, like a blue Selmer Reference 54 sax -- that's not a color used by Selmer for the Reference 54 -- but some are very subtle, like a Selmer Mark VI soprano with the wrong keywork.

    =================

    Someone's going to say, "So what?" The reason you want to know this is because you certianly can find things like a King Marigaux at prices significantly lower than a SML Gold Medal "II."
     
    Tags:
  2. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,494
    Likes Received:
    22
    Sigh...

    It is better when expertise lies in one area, to remain in that area. I might not know my saxophones, but I do know my military production, so I'll attempt to correct your error.

    The original design of the MB Truck, 1/4 ton, 4 x 4, also known as the Jeep (after a popular cartoon character of the day, if the published stories are to be believed) was projected and prototyped by a relatively obscure automobile company called Bantam. (Bantam dated back to the days of small manufacturers like Moon and K-R-I-T (logo attached below for your edification); back when "Wanderer" was the direct ancestor of the modern Audi vehicles.) Bantam furnished the prototypes to the US Army, who promptly tried to destroy them in tests, only to find that they could not do so.

    (There is a famous photograph of an original Jeep, towing our then top-of-the-line M1 Gun, 37 mm, Antitank. Four man crew, gun and Jeep - all are airborne, up in the air about three feet. The landing could not have been a pleasant one.)

    (And, why (I hear someone ask) are so many weapons produced for the US Army given the M1 designation? Under the old system, the first design of anything (tank, field piece, helmet rifle, truck, backpack, field stove) was designated as the M1 version, with subsequent versions going out as M2, M3 and so on. It does get confusing at times - you quickly learn to never say "Hand me that M1, will you?")

    Once the design was accepted, it was found that Bantam was not up to the production demands. The design was turned over to Willys-Overland, where it was revised slightly, and then put into production (as it was with Ford and other manufacturers like Kaiser). Virtually every Jeep produced by the United States was made to the Kaiser or Ford designs.

    The differences between the original and the production version are not all that subtle. If you see a Jeep with a flat engine grill, resembling (but not identical to) the one used in their current logo, then you are seeing one of the thousands produced during the war. However, if you see a Jeep that looks like a Jeep except for the front of the engine compartment (which would be pointed like most automobile hoods of the era, then you are looking at one of two different vehicles built to the Bantam design.

    It can be either one of the precious few Bantams made for the initial test period (I've seen one in a museum at Fort Belvour VA), or one of the many hundreds manufactured in the Soviet Union. The Godless Commies copied the original design right down to the decorative elements on the vehicle hood, and equipped their forces with "bogus" Jeeps.

    Oh, and the K-R-I-T logo? Here it is:

    krit-motor-car-company-detroit2.jpg

    This emblem, which graced the hood of most of the K-R-I-Ts ever made, is an elaborate cloisonné (?) item, made to jewelry standards. Too bad the rest of the car wasn't as solid.

    Just why the mastermind behind Krit decided to produce such an iconic logo is something that I have yet to determine. It may be that the vehicle was produced by someone remotely connected with a Western tribe of Native Americans, where the same, "flat" orientation swastika was used for ornamentation. There is (or at least was) a subdivision outside of Denver named Swastika Estates, again with the same "flat" version of the symbol.

    In any event, K-R-I-T predated Unca Adolph's political involvement by about five years, so it wasn't in any way related to my distant relatives on the far side of the pond.

    Oh, and one more thing. While we are quite proud of the Jeep vehicle, of which over 500,000 were produced during the war alone, it was not (despite some crowing by Kaiser and Willys-Overland) the first such vehicle in the world. That honor belongs to the Japanese Type 95 Kurogane, a diminutive, three seat, two cylinder engine 4 x 4 that went into production in the mid-1930s.

    3026_9-auto_downl.jpg

    Not as well known as the American version, it did serve as a backdrop for a photograph taken of Bob Hope when on tour in the Pacific Theater. While not decorated up to K-R-I-T standards, it (like every other Japanese Army vehicle) had a gilded star attached in the center of the grille. The stars were popular souvenirs, so much so that I've never seen an original one on a Japanese vehicle to this day.
     
  3. Tony Fairbridge

    Tony Fairbridge Tony F

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    27


    The Swastika by far outdates Uncle Adolf, and maybe even the Native Americans. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika

    As a symbol, mostly of good luck, it's been around for a long time all over the world. Years ago I was part of a pub discussion in which a guy claimed that he had an Indian-made bugle with a swastika on the bell, and from this he inferred that India was making bugles and selling them to the Germans during WW2. It was pointed out to him that during WW2 India was a part of the British Empire, so this was somewhat unlikely. Anyway, the Indians have a much stronger claim to the Swastika than Uncle A.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2014
  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    10,649
    Likes Received:
    376
    FWIW, I used to have a friend that owned ...

    * At least one Willys.
    * At least one Bantam.
    * At least one Kaiser-Frazer (which bought Willys).

    No KRITs, military vehicles or Pintos.

    My friend's father was a car collector. I think he had at least 200. I still regret not buying his 1956 Chevy 210 when I had the opportunity. Also, I'm not really a "car guy," though I do like the shiny. I've also owned a lot of cars with my current wife and ex-wife. I think the last count was 60.
     
  5. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,494
    Likes Received:
    22
    I've actually sat in a KRIT. An eccentric old ex-Marine has an odd museum down here in South Houston, and in addition to such oddities as a French 25 mm anti-tank gun and the big octopus looking alien from Men In Black I or II he had an old KRIT on the floor. Since the thrust of the place was supposed to be Korean War, all of it was a bit odd.

    (KRIT is one of the manufacturers in my card game on the American automotive industry. Titled Motor Mogul, it runs from right before World War I to the start of World War II, and involves design, production and sales of cars to the American public. I was searching around for small makers to include (mostly, they get bought up by the big four of manufacturing, Ford, GM, Chrysler and Nash), and the KRIT badge was intriguing. However, I could not find a clear photo of a KRIT for the artwork on the manufacturer's card. Then, I stumbled into probably the one example of the brand, right here next to where I used to work. Go figure...)

    In what may be one of the greatest ironies of them all, there is a photograph of a Hitler World War I era confidant who was at one point their ambassador to China and later a defector to the Allies. In the photo, taken pre-war during a visit to the US, he was wearing a native American headdress, around the headband of which was a series of flat swastikas. It made for an interesting portrait.
     
  6. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,535
    Likes Received:
    141
    It's another case of history being stranger than fiction. That's amazing.
     

Share This Page

Our staff's websites:


Loading...