Bass Ophecleide by Jules Martin, Paris

Jules Martin may not have been an actual maker of brass instruments and wasn't likely related to the several other Martin families known to be makers.  It is known that he was a dealer of musical merchandise in Paris between 1855 and 1876.  The address stamped on the bell date this ophicleide between 1868 and 1873.  By this date, ophicleides weren't used much in military bands or society orchestras but mostly in opera orchestras playing the parts written for them and in churches that didn't have organs.  I don't know anything of the history of the particular instrument other than that it was victim of a failed restoration attempt and came to me disassembled with numerous parts damaged or missing and everything severely etched with acid.  It is a decent playing instrument with large bore and large tone holes, making itfairly easy to play in tune and a pretty good low register.   It has ten keys and the E natural key opens two toneholes, allowing that note to be played without opening the F key in combination.  I've come across several other French ophicleides with the same key castings but obviously from different makers including a Besson made before 1858  with the same double hole E key.  These key blanks were obviously available to smaller makers for use in their production.  This instrument is 42 3/8" long with a bell rim diameter of 9 1/2".

Jules Martin history from William Waterhouse, The New Langwill Index, Tony Bingham, 1993.