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Courtois Trumpet Dating



 
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jrpbrass
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Location: Wurtsboro, New York

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:17 am    Post subject: Courtois Trumpet Dating Reply with quote

I am working with the Horn-u-Copia website to develop a serial number and dating list for Courtois trumpets and would love to get information from any owners out there.

I would need the serial number, model (if any), last medal award date shown (if any), factory location shown (Marais or Nancy in Paris or Amboise), and the date purchased new (if possible).

I recently restored trumpet #885 from c.1923 and love this horn so that got me on this quest to compile a list.

Thanks
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was recently making a list, I made a sequential list of the medals and assume they are stamping the latest in the series when a horn is made for the best marketing (well, within a year or so they would). I only looked at the early horns as that is my main interest.

Medal dates in sequence: 1862 1867 1872 1878 1889 1893 1900 1904 1910 1911 (some may be skipped)

Serial# -- most recent stamp present and oldest stamp missing to bracket
200 -- after 1900 before 1904
680 -- after 1904 before 1911
1250 -- after 1904 before 1911
1450 -- after 1904 before 1911

I think these were all either on eBay recently, or Horn-u-Copia, so you may have found them already. I rounded them to nearest 10. These are all Besson-style markings on the middle valve, the rotary valve clusters seem to be independently stamped with different numbers (something that is not uncommon to find). Courtois cornets have their own sequence numbers and are under a valve cap, these are all from trumpets.

One reason why I was doing this is it looks to me like people have been dating many of these horns as later than they really are - ? For example your horn I would guess to be somewhere around 1908 based on these numbers. Does it have any later stamps on it? I'd be interested in any list you have. If your horn has a stamp later than 1904 it would be puzzling to me, it would look like they reset the numbers at some point.

I just bought the ~1450 one today, it was on eBay and I am looking forward to checking it out!
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:17 am    Post subject: Trumpet dating Reply with quote

My trumpet is #885 and is the only one I have found so far that has the 1911 Turin medal date. Later number horns only have the 1904 date above the Courtois name so my guess at this time is that they either didn't mark them all with a complete medal list or they go back to zero around WWI and we have two sets of numbers.
At this point I am leaning toward trumpet numbers restarting at zero after the purchase by Gaudet in 1917 since #215 matches an ad from 1919 and #663 matches an ad from 1921. This fits with the "Selmer US Agent" markings found from this period.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like a sensible theory given the data (the reset of the numbers). It also explains why many of the dates seemed off to me. There are probably design changes that could be used to fully confirm there are parallel lines of low serial numbers here.

There are a few early Courtois trumpets without serial numbers or medals, they have the Courtois cornet-style pointed valve caps (one is on Robb's site, the Mager trumpet). All the Courtois trumpets with serial numbers have Besson style valve caps (no points). These Courtois trumpets could possibly be from right around 1900 as some of the earliest ones they made. Or not ..
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Rene Janisse
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an older Courtois trumpet that I don't have a date on...
Antoine Courtois,
Brevete,
Facteur Du Conservatoire
National
8 Rue De Nancy
Paris
serial number 14023
Very nice open playing trumpet.
Maybe you can find out when this was made.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That Nancy location is 1927-1956 so its in that range for sure; that number is on the high side of what I have seen so I would guess early 50's.
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:19 pm    Post subject: Courtois Trumpet Dating Reply with quote

I looked up the Selmer company in NYC and they were incorporated in 1919 by George Bundy so those trumpets with that agent name on the bell have to date from after that time.

The trouble with dating trumpets is that they may have kept the Nancy address on the bell past the time of the new factory in 1956. The lettering you give is found on trumpets and flugelhorns that have the 4000 to 7000 range that follow WWII. One claim that I read says that trumpet #15600 was purchased new in 1970 so that would put yours in the late 1960s. These usually have the modern Antoine Courtois script logo on the bell.

I read one account of someone who met Gaudet at the Nancy operation in 1978 so they may still have had something being made there or at least an office.
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:13 am    Post subject: Selmer Courtois Trumpets Reply with quote

I found several ads from H&A Selmer, NY in a collection of "Musical Messenger" magazines from 1919. Here is a 1919 timeline.
March; H&A Selmer Co. is incorporated
May; Selmer is now the sole US agent for Courtois; during the war it was impossible to supply them but now the French army is being demobilized and we expect them soon.
June; the first shipment of Courtois instruments has arrived; the trumpet illustrated has a Bb/A valve built into the tuning slide
July; trumpet illustrated matches #215 which is marked for Selmer
1921 ad shows new style trumpet that matches #300

All trumpets marked with H&A Selmer sole US Agent would have to date to this time or later. Other trumpets with the last medal date of 1904 and having the Selmer name are #215, 320, 397, 595, & 680.
My trumpet #885 does not have the Selmer name yet does have the later medal awards up to 1911.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does sound like any horn with Selmer Inc. would have to be after 1919. The 1904 medal is St. Louis, they may have not put on the 1911 award on US imports since it was a European award. One horn I am looking at with the 1904 St. Louis has that plus an 1893 Chicago -- only US awards on the US imports? It is a Selmer stamped horn.

Subtle design changes may help date the horns. I just took a short look and the pre-WWI appear to have the 2nd valve slide coming out perpendicular where the later ones have the slide at an angle. Pre-WWI have rounded edges on valve caps and post- have straight edges on the sides. Ring is below 3rd slide on older, and above 2nd slide on newer. Brace ends are rounded on older and pointed on newer horns. etc. These kind of things are not completely accurate but if you have enough of them you can get close.
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been working on the same thing and ended up with a chart listing all the differences that you mention. It may help to date horns just by looking at them and also date other instruments by comparing design details.
The other early change is the beginning of the lead pipe goes from having a small trim ring to a long taper.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The long taper on the leadpipe is from the earliest trumpet designs - the Besson on Josh's page has it for example. I don't think the standard modern trim ring on the leadpipe end appeared until a lot later - ? Even Bessons in the 20's still had that long taper on the leadpipe end.

There are two early Courtois horns I found with a ring but they both show signs of being modified later. One is the Mager one on Robb's site -- the leadpipe area has some bumps on it if you look closely and I expect that part of the trumpet was modified and the whole horn re-plated at some point. The other horn which was on eBay recently has plating loss and a different colored metal on the ring plus it has several obvious later mods on it (braces are pointed on the mods, round on pre-mod).
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jrpbrass
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think more examples are needed to confirm the lead pipe design. The other early one you mention does look modified but trumpet #219 as well as the illustrations from 1919 and 1921 have the ring. #300 and later have the long taper. #219 does not look modified.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One other factor is the pitch, I noticed that Robb's as well as #199 on horn-u-copia have receiver rings but both are D/Eb pitch and so the ring could have been only on higher-pitched early horns. I haven't seen #219. Josh has a Courtois C trumpet (http://www.jlandressbrass.com/trumpets.html) he dates to 1905 which has no ring. It is #1343 but likely in the pre-WWI numbering.

I agree this is not very clear. Josh's #1343 for example has all of my hallmarks of an early model except it has points on the brace ends on the tuning slide following later models.

My #14XX horn showed up yesterday, looking forward to trying it out!
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Followup on my #14XX Courtois trumpet.. now that I have the horn in hand I also can see it has a conical (aka dual-bore) tuning slide - it won't go in upside down. The Bessons quickly switched to cylindrical bore tuning slides, I think Josh's 1890's Besson is the only early one with a conical slide? I don't know about Courtois, but Josh mentions his early one is also conical. If they switched to cylindrical early it could help date horns.

This trumpet is a "trumpet's trumpet", when I pick up a regular trumpet it sounds like a cornet by comparison. A regular trumpet bell is right between these Courtois trumpets and a cornet bell in the bore profile.
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laser170323
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha! The first thought that came to my mind when I read the title of this post was www.match.com, the dating website. But I don't think they can help you.

Laser170323
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