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Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby JCalkin » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:34 pm

A new acquisition! This high-pitch BBb tuba was made by the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory sometime before 1902 (when it became the Boston Musical Instrument Company). The bell is rough and it’s a little dinged up, but it has the original case and mouthpiece, and all the valves and slides move! She makes a cool, fat sound, too! Surprisingly easy to play for such an old gal. It's very light and responsive.

I couldn't find a serial number... anyone happen to know where they would be on one of these, if at all?

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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby lost » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:38 pm

Thanks for posting all the pictures to document a special find, especially the one with you in it. I love pictures like that since they give the tuba size perspective to the musician. Nice find!
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby bisontuba » Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:05 pm

Congratulations!!
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby Kirley » Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:22 pm

Nice!
Since you already referred to her in the feminine, I feel the most appropriate adjective for her is zaftig.
Thanks for sharing and congrats.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby humBell » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:11 am

Perhaps a contemporary of this?

https://www.robbstewart.com/tubas-early-bbb/

I feel obligued to fill a mild stereotype and declare it wicked awesome.

If i get a chance to look over lesser Boston Instruments for serial number location, i'll see what i can find. I think i recall cornets having them on valves, but that doesn't help much here...

Anyway, please remind me if i haven't said anything by April.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby windshieldbug » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:12 am

The serial number on my 1895 BMIM Eb Helicon is on the 2nd valve.
Boston Musical apparently didn't even start serializing up until c.1880, so depending on when it was made it might not even have one.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby Tom » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:19 pm

That's an awesome set you have with the tuba, mouthpiece, case, and method books.

It's almost more impressive to me to see that case surviving than to see the tuba itself.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby roughrider » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:42 pm

What a terrific find! Enjoy!
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby humBell » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:46 am

Does Bb Bass TC mean it is written in Treble Clef?

Cool.

And got around to checking some other Bostons for serial numner location. An Eb piston (also USQMD) has its serial number onthe back of the second piston casing very close to the top cap. The numbers have stylistic slant to 'em. This was 14xxx so it was relatively recent...
A younger piston baritone has it in the same place. A rotary baritone has 8xxx on the bell under the engraving.

I kinda imagine the bow right next to the pistons would be in the way of engraving the serial number near the top of a piston....
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby TheBerlinerTuba » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:46 am

Thanks for posting! Can we get a video to hear it in action?
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby Donn » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:24 am

humBell wrote:Does Bb Bass TC mean it is written in Treble Clef?


Old band scores I've looked at have that part, "Bb bass" in treble clef Bb transposition. The same notes as 3rd trombone. Apparently intended for an instrument that today we'd call a "euphonium", though rather unlike a modern euphonium part.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby JCalkin » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:13 pm

humBell wrote:Perhaps a contemporary of this?

https://www.robbstewart.com/tubas-early-bbb/

I feel obligued to fill a mild stereotype and declare it wicked awesome.

If i get a chance to look over lesser Boston Instruments for serial number location, i'll see what i can find. I think i recall cornets having them on valves, but that doesn't help much here...

Anyway, please remind me if i haven't said anything by April.


Thanks everyone for the help! I did find the serial number, on the 2nd valve casing, and it is obscured by the tubing passing in front of the valve set. My serial # (15XXX) dates the instrument to 1900. I was really hoping it was a 19th century horn! But, it's still the oldest instrument I own by 15 years or so, so I'm still pretty pumped.

On Robb's site he indicates that he was unable to find the serial number too, so I sent him an email describing where to look.

And yeah, even though I was really excited to find a tuba of this vintage that still plays as well as it does, I think I nerded out harder over the case than the tuba.

The music is a folio of several books, some in B-flat Bass treble clef, some in concert pitch bass clef. There are methods and books of tunes, and some loosely-bound pieces for treble and bass clef B-flat bass, bass clef E-flat bass, 3rd trombone, and even 3rd trombone bass clef and bari sax on the same part. It's really pretty fascinating.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby Heliconer » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:29 am

JCalkin wrote:
humBell wrote:Perhaps a contemporary of this?

https://www.robbstewart.com/tubas-early-bbb/

I feel obligued to fill a mild stereotype and declare it wicked awesome.

If i get a chance to look over lesser Boston Instruments for serial number location, i'll see what i can find. I think i recall cornets having them on valves, but that doesn't help much here...

Anyway, please remind me if i haven't said anything by April.


Thanks everyone for the help! I did find the serial number, on the 2nd valve casing, and it is obscured by the tubing passing in front of the valve set. My serial # (15XXX) dates the instrument to 1900. I was really hoping it was a 19th century horn! But, it's still the oldest instrument I own by 15 years or so, so I'm still pretty pumped.

On Robb's site he indicates that he was unable to find the serial number too, so I sent him an email describing where to look.

And yeah, even though I was really excited to find a tuba of this vintage that still plays as well as it does, I think I nerded out harder over the case than the tuba.

The music is a folio of several books, some in B-flat Bass treble clef, some in concert pitch bass clef. There are methods and books of tunes, and some loosely-bound pieces for treble and bass clef B-flat bass, bass clef E-flat bass, 3rd trombone, and even 3rd trombone bass clef and bari sax on the same part. It's really pretty fascinating.


Robb's Boston never had a serial number and was manufactured under the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory. Boston was very thorough with their numbers starting in 1892. I've seen that Boston and can say with 100% certainty it NEVER had a serial number, placing it pre-1891. Humbell can confirm this as well.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby humBell » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:41 am

Indeed, i shall take a closer look next time i play it.

I am sure i glanced over it, although i took it for granted i wouldn't find anything, so i probably could have been more thorough.

I think the last time i played it in public was at rehearsal for Boston Tuba Christmas, a description i took a quiet joy in parcing diferently than everyone else. No one else had a rain catcher handy, so i ended up peforming with one to increase the variety of tubas present.

I also got my hands on two different Boston mouthpieces, and i mean to track them down and add pictures of them to this thread.

And i suppose i should apologize for playing somewhat coy on this thread. I can only say i hope to eventually live up to the username i chose. Robb's article is a convenient means of sharing without bragging.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby Heavy_Metal » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:54 pm

Nice find! Can't wait to hear it!
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby JCalkin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:57 pm

Heliconer wrote:
JCalkin wrote:
humBell wrote:Perhaps a contemporary of this?

https://www.robbstewart.com/tubas-early-bbb/

I feel obligued to fill a mild stereotype and declare it wicked awesome.

If i get a chance to look over lesser Boston Instruments for serial number location, i'll see what i can find. I think i recall cornets having them on valves, but that doesn't help much here...

Anyway, please remind me if i haven't said anything by April.


Thanks everyone for the help! I did find the serial number, on the 2nd valve casing, and it is obscured by the tubing passing in front of the valve set. My serial # (15XXX) dates the instrument to 1900. I was really hoping it was a 19th century horn! But, it's still the oldest instrument I own by 15 years or so, so I'm still pretty pumped.

On Robb's site he indicates that he was unable to find the serial number too, so I sent him an email describing where to look.

And yeah, even though I was really excited to find a tuba of this vintage that still plays as well as it does, I think I nerded out harder over the case than the tuba.

The music is a folio of several books, some in B-flat Bass treble clef, some in concert pitch bass clef. There are methods and books of tunes, and some loosely-bound pieces for treble and bass clef B-flat bass, bass clef E-flat bass, 3rd trombone, and even 3rd trombone bass clef and bari sax on the same part. It's really pretty fascinating.


Robb's Boston never had a serial number and was manufactured under the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory. Boston was very thorough with their numbers starting in 1892. I've seen that Boston and can say with 100% certainty it NEVER had a serial number, placing it pre-1891. Humbell can confirm this as well.


That's interesting. Looking at the photos on Robb's site I saw that his (former) horn and mine are clearly of the same design, and I definitely did NOT see the serial number when I looked on my horn the first time, or the second, so I thought this might be the case with his as well. So given that his site says
Robb's site wrote:Boston started engraving serial numbers on all of their instruments starting in about 1880 or 1881, making me confident that this tuba was made about that time and is the earliest BBb tuba made in the US that I know of. (As always, I'd like to hear from you if you have any additional information.)

I thought I'd volunteer what I had found.

It's cool that this design may be the earliest US-manufactured BBb tuba design. I hope that is indeed the case.
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Re: Cool Old Boston Instrument Manuf. BBb Tuba (pics)

Postby bloke » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:21 pm

I'm sure you already know (a few may not) that U.S.Q.M.C. stands for United States QuarterMaster Corps.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartermaster_Corps_(United_States_Army)
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