Besson Echo Cornet

This is another instrument from Boyde Hood's collection.  I know that Boyde generally acquires instruments that he can use in performances including recitals and master classes.  I don't think that he has had much call for this one, although it is an excellent playing instrument for when he might need an echo cornet and in a variety of keys as well.


It was made by Besson in London about 1880 (when still under French ownership) and retailed in New York City by Louis Schreiber.  This is the same Schreiber that had previously run a factory that built a whole line of brass instruments in New York.  The shape of the echo bell is very similar to most other makers of such devices (see Reidl Echo Cornet for a different variety).  Besson, in both Paris and London, seemed to have made more of these than other makers judging by the numbers that I have seen, although they are still rare and highly sought after by collectors.  Most of these Besson Echo cornets are built in C, the same as this one.  My guess is that the largest demand was in the amateur market, where they might be played in the parlor, accompanied by the piano, as well as in the brass band.  This cornet is remarkably well preserved, never needing any sort of restoration and still retains all its original box and parts excepting the mouthpiece (the mouthpiece shown is a slightly later Besson).  It is interesting to study the slides, shanks and crook that are provided.  With the mouthpipe shank marked "C" and the two tuning slides, it is in high or low pitch C.  Using These slides with the tuning slide extension, it can be played in high or low pitch Bb.  Low pitch Bb is illustrated in the third photo down on the right.  Funnily, it has a separate mouthpipe shank for Bb even though careful measurements indicate that it is the same as the C shank (see fifth photo down on the left).  There is also a shank for B natural, which would
lower the cornet with the C slides to that key.  I don't recall ever seeing this specific shank on a cornet before.  It also had a shank for A and a crook for Ab, which are very common in cornet kits from that time.  The first and third valve slides are
marked for the position for each respective tuning.