Bb Cornet by E.G. Wright, Boston
Frequent visitors to this website will have noticed that I am biased towards the New England makers in general and specifically E.G. Wright and The Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory that succeeded Wright. Part of my fascination with Wright, Graves, Allen and Fiske, the best US makers of their time, is that in a young country that was playing catch up to Europe's technology, such high quality instruments were being made. I know that I'm not objective, but I believe that there are no better brass instruments made by contemporary European or English makers.
This example, belonging to Broadway trumpeter Dave Rogers, was made in Boston between 1865 and 1869. It is exciting to me because of its state of preservation and completeness. The only part that appears to be missing is the lyre. The case is extant, but I don't show it because it was recently painted and relined, destroying its original appearance. The kit of parts that came with this cornet is a slight variation from what was more common both in the US and overseas. Rather than a second mouthpipe shank for A, there is a longer tuning slide for that key At firstlook it would seem to be for low pitch, but it's too long. The small bit lengthens the cornet in either key to low pitch, which in those days was about A=435Hz. Without the bit, it plays in the normal high pitch, which was about A=452Hz. The circular crook lowers the pitch to G. Although unmarked, I have no doubt that the mouthpiece is original to this cornet, which I recognize from past experience. The most remarkable and rare part to be preserved with this instrument is the mute. It is made of German silver, the same as the rest of the instrument and the longitudinal seam has tabs that match the bell exactly, removing doubt that it is also original. In spite of its elegant appearance, the acoustics of the mute are quite crude, compared with what we are accustomed to today. It raises the pitch of the cornet by more than 1/4 tone when fully inserted and experimentation reveals that it isn't improved much by extending it outward. The cork was completely missing from the mute, revealing only a shadow where it once was, so my replacement is only a best guess. Our greatest authority on early American made brass instruments is Bob Eliason, who tells me that he has found evidence that such mutes were intended only for practicing.
The overall length of this cornet with mouthpiece removed is 12 7/8", the bell rim diameter measures 5" and the bore .466". Boston continued making this cornet model after Wright left the company in 1869, although much more commonly seen with side action valve levers rather than the top action seen here. In later Boston catalogs, it is described as the Band Size as opposed to the later version shown here that was called the Orchestra Size. Both were still listed as available with top action levers as an option in a catalog published about 1903.