Recreating a Boston Three Star Echo Cornet
In their 1887 catalog, Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory illustrated a Bb piston valve cornet with fourth valve and echo attachment. Nobody that I knew had ever seen one, but many collectors have told me that they would like to have one. I don't remember whose idea it was, but Steve Ward wanted me to convert a standard Boston Three Star into an echo cornet. I would have to make quite a few parts and modify others to accomplish this. I named my price and he told me to go ahead. He supplied a cornet that was restorable, but not economical to do so and not of any historical importance. To get the design as close as possible, I enlarged the catalog illustration to full size. Assuming a large degree of accuracy, which seems to be true of all the engravings that Boston published, I could get some rough measurements and visual designs from this. It would have been convenient if I had a wrecked rotary valve cornet around to supply the fourth valve, but I had to make this one all new. It appears to be the same as the valves in the Orchestra cornet. I had made several echo bells before and find that they are not difficult. From experience, I knew that the cone on the end of the echo was not going to work well acoustically, so I made it slightly longer and more flared and also with an insert in the small end, that when pulled out about 3/4" improves the response of the echo notes. There appears to be an attachment between the end of the echo bell and the inside of the main bell curve. I assumed that this must be a sliding brace giving the only support for the echo other than where it leaves the change valve and allows for the necessary tuning of the assembly. I had to re-bend the original "shepherd's crook" into the shape as illustrated and be sure to get the length just right. The second photo to the right shows that I got the design fairly close to the original. The original pistons were plated and refit, insuring that this is an excellent playing echo cornet.
Within a year of completing this project, Steve Ward managed to buy the real thing, shown in the last photo. This instrument is now restored and featured on its own webpage. Some details are slightly different from both the catalog illustration and the replica cornet. If you look closely, you will notice that the third valve slide crook is narrower than on a Three Star Cornet and it is otherwise of an earlier design, more like E.G. Wright's piston valve cornets and the very earliest Boston examples known. This cornet must date from before the introduction of Three Star or Two Star cornets sometime in the 1870s. It also lacks the sliding brace to support the echo bell, so not surprisingly it has become detached and is just laying loose under the cornet for this photo. I would assume that later Boston echo cornets were more like the engraving and the replica, but nobody has found one that I know of (let me know!).