Boston F Trumpet
We don't have any evidence of what trumpets were made by Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory during its first decade of operation, although a price list published in about 1863 by their predecessor, E.G. Wright offers "F and Eb Trumpets" in either brass or nickel silver, but without further explanation. No example of this model is known, but it seems a sure thing that they were made with rotary valves as in all of Wright's instruments at that time. In his 1856 list of instruments for sale, Harvey Dodworth offers "F Trumpet, Crook to Db, three (rotary) valves" in either brass or German silver. I'm quite sure that these were American made, although there is no way of knowing the maker for sure. It could have been Fiske, Wright or Allen. The earliest that we know that Boston was offering a trumpet for sale is as published in their 1881 catalog. It is illustrated with a wood cut engraving and is described as being in F with crooks for E, Eb, D and C. In the listing from the 1887 catalog (first illustration to the left) it appears with the same cut and description, but is also available in Bb with crooks to A and Ab. The smaller instrument isn't illustrated, but I would guess that it also had the "shepherd's crook" bell. These catalogs mention that their trumpets were used in the (Georg) Henschell concerts and Thomas Orchestra (which became the Boston Symphony Orchestra) although we have no other information about their use. They continued offering these two trumpets in their catalogs in 1904 and 1915, although the illustration is the Bb trumpet without "shepherd's crook" bell or terminal crooks, although it still appears to utilize the same valve assembly design as the Three Star cornets. It now only has "Crooks" only to A and the F trumpet only has crooks to E and Eb. The second illustration on the left is from the latter catalog. 1915 must have been the last year for the F trumpet; the 1916 supplement to tha catalog introduced a new, more modern Bb trumpet and the larger instrument was no longer mentioned. It is interesting that the earlier catalogs call this "Orchestra or Band Trumpet". While it is an appropriate instrument for the 19th century orchestras, I don't know of any use of such trumpets in American bands. It would be an inferior choice for playing the alto parts in bands; Boston made several excellent alto horns including the pocket solo alto, which was more compact than the trumpets. It is possible that they wanted to avoid missing a sales opportunity and there were many bands in the US formed by immigrants that were following their European traditions. I do know that Keefer was oddly marketing their Eb trumpet (lengthened version of the Distin orchestral F trumpet) for use in dance bands in the late 1910s. The strongest influence on the popularity of trumpets in the US was certainly Sousa's Band, which started using a pair of Bb trumpets in the 1890s and other bands followed their lead. Regardless, Boston must not have sold many of these trumpets in the 35 years that they were available. I first became aware of this model when I bought a copy of the 1887 catalog in about 1988, but I have never seen or heard of an original F trumpet made by Boston. The serial numbers would be 20,000 or lower. Please let me know if you have one or have heard that one exists. I know of only one Bb trumpet made by Boston before 1915, in the Tom Meacham collection. This is pictured below the catalog image of the same model to the right.
I have always been intrigued by these trumpets and have studied the engraved image often. It appears to have the same valve section that was used in the Boston Two and Three Star cornets and while there's no way of knowing the bore measurement, I would assume that it would not be the larger (.485" or .487") used in the Two Star, but rather .472" as used in the Three Star or possibly .462 as in the C cornets. The valve section in the C cornets was a slightly different design and it seems likely that they would have used that design if they preferred the .462" bore. It was not much of a mental leap to think that I could reconstruct a Boston F trumpet using as many parts made by Boston as possible. I already had several parts horns (Three Star cornets) around and one of these had a valve section that needed the pistons plated and refit and otherwise very repairable. The usable original parts include the valve assembly, the three valve slide crooks, the tuning slide crook, the return crook between the tuning slide and third valve, all the large ferrules, the waterkey assembly and all the braces. The longer tuning and third slide tubes would have to be made new as well as the bell and entire mouthpipe assemblies. I knew from previous experience, including reconstructing a Boston echo cornet, that the engravings in the Boston catalogs are surprisingly well scaled to the actual instruments. Just as in the echo cornet project, I printed out a full size image of the trumpet, based on the known dimensions of the Three Star valve section. If I was right, the measurements taken from this would be close to those of the actual instrument and this was indeed the case. I did some experimentation with various bells that I knew I could get from Kanstul Musical Instruments and ordered the one that worked best with a 5 1/4" rim, which is approximately what it measured in the print. This was bent using the print as a guide; the over all length of the instrument ended up at 16 7/8" and then it was sent off to Kansas to be engraved by James McKenzie. I made a special mouthpipe appropriate to the design and the shank for F and a crook for Eb. The completed trumpet is as good playing as any F trumpet that I have come across and could easily be used for the performance of 19th century orchestral literature. It has a sound similar to original natural trumpets and English slide trumpets, but the response and technique is much simpler. I've photographed it with a Boston trumpet mouthpiece from about 1920, but to take best advantage of the richness of this trumpet's sound, a much larger mouthpiece should be used. The Schilke 20 mouthpiece that I almost always use for testing trumpets works very well and any very large modern mouthpiece would likely be an excellent compromise for a modern player. I also tested it with a number of early trumpet mouthpieces, including the original from the Brown & Sons F trumpet. The Brown mouthpiece produced a beautiful sound, but made it difficult for me to play cleanly. The best of the antique trumpet mouthpieces that I have on hand is a French Besson from some time between about 1880 and 1900. This has a very large rim diameter and hole but still didn't get results as good as the modern one that I'm accustomed to.