Antique Musical Instruments/Brua Keefer 1917 Cornet


Kenton - I grew up playing trumpet and my stepfather passed his father's antique cornet on to me. It's from 1917 with engravings of "BRUA C. KEEFER, MAKER WILLIAMSPORT.PA, HIGHEST GRADE 5496" on the bell and on the value it's got the serial # 6142.

If you could provide any historical background on the model/make, the maker, and anything else that may be useful - It would be greatly appreciated.

I'm trying to decide if it's a piece I want to keep and restore or to sell. It likely only needs a serious professional cleaning/bath and would probably play better afterwards. Right now it feels a bit stuffy to play, probably more than it should, at least from my background playing other cornets. Any information on finding the lead pipes for it would be greatly appreciated.

Any tips for restoring an antique to play like new would be awesome to hear as well!! Would love to hear your opinions and thoughts as they seem very insightful from other posts I've already seen!

Keefer first managed and then 1909 bought the Henry Distin company.  He was trained as an attorney and his father was a senator.  Brua's father initially was interested in getting the company to move to Williamsport from Philadelphia.  For the most part Keefer continued the traditions and practices of Distin, only gradually introducing new styles and innovations.  The Company was built on custom instrument making rather than automation.  Brua died in 1927 and his son took over the company.  They were respected instrument makers, and though the story goes that they stopped making instruments when the could no longer obtain the imported brass they wanted to use.  But, it probably more likely that the effects of automation by competitors made the market too difficult for them.  

I all likelihood, the cost of restoring it would not appreciate it's value enough to cover the costs.  You would probably better to sell as is, if you decide to sell.  However, if you want to keep and use it, then you will probably want to get someone who is comfortable working on vintage instruments to put it back in good playing condition.  A stuffy feel may be do to having worn valves.  Use some thicker oil - for testing purposes only.  Mineral oil or olive oil work well.  You are not trying for fast valve action, but it will give you a clue whether the valves need to be rebuilt.  Or it may just be that using classic valve oil will make it play better.  

When you speak of lead pipes, could you be talking about the separate 'bit' that attaches between the instrument and the mouthpiece.  You can sometimes find them on ebay sales, otherwise, you will probably need to get one custom made.  

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Kenton Scott


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 Much of the information I have garnered about this topic, I have posted on this WEB site.


I perform in several historical bands, have informally researched the area, repair brass instruments, and operate a Forum dedicated to the topic at

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