Eb Soprano Valve Bugle by Gilmore & Co.

I restored this instrument in 2002 for Dan Rossi and took the photos using my first digital camera, so the files are fairly small.  My photography was getting a little better, and better yet with my second camera which took much larger files.

The restoration was fairly straightforward, the main challenge was to make the tuning mouthpipe and guessing what how it might have looked.  I've never seen another example like this, so it was largely guesswork based on my experience with other Boston makers.  As I recall another challenge was mounting the major parts straight.  The finished instrument shown in the third photograph looks as if the bell and valve section are not installed using much care, but I assure you that I took pains to get it the way it had been based on the "footprints" left by the brass flanges.


More importantly, I'm featuring this valve bugle because of its rarity and somewhat mysterious circumstances of its origins.  The owner of this company was indeed Patrick Gilmore, the countries most famous band leader and cornet soloist at the time (1866).  Gilmore had previously been in the publishing business, but upon returning with his band from Civil War duty, he established a short lived (1864 to 1866) partnership with Samuel Graves and two of his sons at 18 Harvard Place.  I'm quite sure that Gilmore never dirtied his hands with the actual instrument making, but rather was an investor in a company that allowed several experienced makers that were having trouble with the business end, continue their production. The last two photos below show a very similar instrument, belonging to Jeff Stockham, made in the same shop a year or two earlier.  This shop location had previously been occupied not only by members of the Graves family, but also E.G. Wright, J.L. Allen, D.C. Hall, Henry Esbach, Louis Hartmann and the Huttl brothers, all important Boston brass instrument makers.  In 1867, these partners moved in to Wright's shop at 71 Sudbury St. and Gilmore left the partnership the same year.  This shop is where Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory was established two years later.  The complete story must be even more complicated than this and we will probably never know all the details of the business that was being done.  It would be interesting to compare some measurements of bells and valve parts on these two and other instruments by Boston makers to try and determine if this new partnership tooled up to make all their own parts or were purchasing them from other makers.  I have previously determined that the valve bugle bells made by Allen, Hall and Quinby were made on different mandrels than those of Wright, as were earlier instruments signed "Graves & Co. Boston".  I'm guessing that these two bells were made on that earlier Graves bell mandrel.  I have much work to do in this regard in trying to shed more light on business relationships.

Most of what we know about these makers comes from the research and various articles by Robert Eliason.