Boston Eb and C Cornets
Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory is primarily known for the Famous Three Star Cornet and secondarily for building a complete line of superior band instruments with piston valves. In the early years of the company, they were better known for their very high quality rotary valve instruments and these were often made of nickel (German) silver, as well as the less expensive brass. They also offered all of the piston valve instruments in either brass or German silver at least as late as 1887. By the time that the piston valve instruments were dominant, silver plating was the standard deluxe finish and demand for the equally priced unplated nickel instruments was very small and presumably considered old fashioned. The rarity and special nature of the solid nickel instruments make them a natural for collectors today. At the time that these two cornets were made (about 1885), Boston offered 8 distinct models of Eb cornets and each of these available in brass or German silver as well as the option of silver plating. There are two piston valve C cornets offered, the "Choral" and standard C cornet, which this is. This model came with alternate tuning slides for Bb and A and "set pieces" or bits to lower the pitch. Unusual for cornets in multiple pitches, the intonation of this instrument lowered to Bb is almost as good as it is in C. Most of these that I have come across, including this one, have the Bb slide in place and the C slide missing, indicating that it was used primarily as a Bb cornet. There is also one each of Two Star and Three Star Bb cornets utilizing this bell and valve section. I haven't been able to differentiate these two and I must assume that they were special orders by customers that wanted smaller bore cornets after they had stopped offering them as a distinct model (about 1875). It is surprising to me that these two utilize the C cornet bell rather than the bell that E.G. Wright had originally designed for the earlier piston valve Bb cornets of the same bore size. The Choral cornet came tuned to low pitch C in order to play along with organs or pianos and didn't have the additional slides. The original catalog images shown here are from the 1887 Boston catalog. This C cornet has an original finger hook that isn't ever illustrated and must have been a special order. The C cornet is 12" long with a bell diameter of 4 15/16" and the bore measures .462". The Eb cornet is 11 3/4" long, the bell rim diameter is 4 1/2" and the bore is .422". Both of these cornets are very well preserved and are pictured just as they came to me. I also feature a Boston Two Star Bb cornet made of German silver in my Boston Bb Cornets pages and more history of the Boston company on various pages.