Fiske Schreiber Pattern Cornet

The fifth photo on the right shows an image and description from Isaac Fiske’s 1861 catalog of instruments that he was making at the time. This was the only source showing that Fiske had made this model cornet and none were known to exist until this example was advertised on the internet recently (2018). Mark Jones of Buffalo, NY knew immediately how important it was and purchased it. He next contacted his friend, Mark Elrod, knowing that he would want it and they arranged to have it sent straight to my shop for restoration.

Louis Schreiber was a well known cornet soloist from Germany that emigrated to the US in about 1856. He is best known for manufacturing his own design instruments starting in about 1868. Several examples of these are seen elsewhere on this site. It is interesting to note that the proportions and layout of this cornet are very similar to the German band trumpets in use at the same time. It hadn’t been many years before that the eastern bands had replaced the Bb flugelhorns with these relatively wide bell trumpets in the same key. Schreiber’s later Bb cornets were also of very similar proportions, but very different shapes. After his factory failed to continue in business, Schreiber became the US distributor of Besson instruments made in London.

The sixth photo shows the condition that this cornet was in. It was quite a challenging restoration, due not only to the severity of the damage, but numerous previous repairs that had to be dealt with. It also showed signs of much wear, indicating that it must have been somebody’s favorite instrument.

This cornet is 17 3/8” long, the bell rim diameter is 4 3/4” and the bore measures .442”. The mouthpiece pictured is a replica of an original by Fiske in Mark Elrod’s collection. The forth valve adds a half step, extending the range and allowing it to be played in A. The catalog mentions that it came with crooks to G. The extant tuning crook lowers it to Ab, but the G crook was certainly the same design with a wider loop.

This interesting side action lever mechanism was also offered on Fiske’s Eb cornets and is similar to the fourth valve levers on bass instruments with bells over the shoulder. I suspect that the use on this model cornet precedes the more familiar side action levers that he continued offering into the 1880s.

There are two cornets of the same basic design known by Christian Stark in New York City, one of these shown in the last photo. There are also several with very similar valve mechanism, but with three valves by Stratton and Moennig, both also in New York. Presumably, these were all later instruments, copying Fiske’s original and it is not known if Schreiber ever endorsed them.