Antique Musical Instruments/Beau Ideal Cornet

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Question
Numerals on valve
Numerals on valve  

Water key mount
Water key mount  
I purchased a Beau Ideal cornet, with an A and Bb lead pipes, at a pawn shop to play some Gilbert and Sullivan shows. Of course it was in high pitch but that was no problem. The horn was in excellent condition and plays well but had no serial number on any valve casings. Assuming the numbers had been worn or polished off I was content playing it without looking for others. My curiosity finally overtook me and with two pairs of close-up glasses I was able to find a number 14 stamped on the frame holding the double water key assembly. Looking further the valves had roman numeral XIIII stamped on them. The main lead pipe has "France" stamped in it and the engraving on the bell of course has Beau Ideal Chicago etched there. Any information regarding the manufacturer and possible dates this horn was made would be appreciated. Thank you.

Answer
Beau Ideal was a tradename used by Lyon and Healy of Chicago.  I see a cornet configured similar to yours in the 1894 Lyon and Healy catalog.  The actual maker is not specified but they do say that they are of French manufacture.  They would not have serial numbers, and even if it had, the serial number would have no significance.  Makers simply used serial numbers to keep track of the instrument and its parts thru manufacture.  It is only enthusiasts after the fact that have attempted to use the serial to establish a chronology. The cost of the new instrument would have been $39.11 for the silverplate stain finish version.

Antique Musical Instruments

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Kenton Scott

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Please note: My area is BRASS instruments, not other wind, string or percussion instruments. I will provide information on antique, obscure and out of production BRASS instruments. 1) Please don't ask for evaluations, I'll not provide them on this site. 2) I am often asked very similar questions, so I'd invite you to first check on Horn-u-Copia.net. Much of the information I have garnered about this topic, I have posted on this WEB site.

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I perform in several historical bands, have informally researched the area, repair brass instruments, and operate a Forum dedicated to the topic at http://horn-u-copia.net

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B.S. Ed, M.S.

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