Besson Pocket Cornet
This is the project that infected me with a bug that makes one want to design pocket versions of every interesting trumpet and cornet model. The original Besson pocket cornets were about the best made before the mid-20th century and were somewhat unique in that they were longer than most, at 8 7/8", but more compact in height and width. The idea was that of Nick DeCarlis, who had started collecting pocket cornets by that time, but hadn't had the opportunity to purchase an example by Besson. He has two original Besson pocket cornets in his collection now, however. He started by not only supplying the cornet to start with, a Modele Francaise Etoile (French Star Model), but thorough measurements and photos of an original MEHA model belonging to Broadway trumpet player Dave Rogers, who treasured his and was not about to sell it. He did, however, lend it to Nick for this project. I knew from experience that I could remove the balusters from the valve casings and make shorter replacements, reducing the height by about 1 1/2", making them almost the same as in Dave's. I cut off the bell flare and installed a rim to match the original. The rest was pretty straightforward bending and refitting the parts, again to match Dave's. The sixth photo shows the cornet next to all the left over parts. Obviously, a new mouthpipe must be made to fit this little cornet. If you study the last photo, with the original above the recreation, you will see that the porting of the valves is not identical, but we dealt with it effectively. These projects always necessitate plating and refitting the valves so that our end product plays as good as it can. Nick later had this instrument engraved and gold plated. The result can be seen on his website.