Penzel-Mueller

The information in the article below seems at variance regarding with the information from the Penzel-Mueller catalog attached below. I don't find a date on the catalog, but it is billed as the 70th anniversary year of Penzel-Mueller. 

This was sent by Gary Kern, and is a quotation from Sherman Friedland's Clarinet Corner:

Thank you for your note on your Penzel Mueller Clarinet. I have known of PM for as long as I’ve been a player, but never played one or investigated the name. So, for your interest, this instrument company was founded in New York City in 1899 by two German Immigrants with the same names and I believe was manufactured until 1950. [Update from Phil 16Aug2014: I have a Penzel-Mueller case that gives 1882 as the company launching date.] It was not a German Company though the workers hired by Penzel Mueller were of German descent. While in Boston studying in the 50s and 60s, the clarinet was considered to be a medium priced instrument with the same playing characteristics. However, since I never played one, I can’t attest to those qualities. Here is a quotation from a fellow who had a music store in New Orleans in the 60s: George Lewis, mentioned , was a famous early Jazz Clarinetist who did play Penzel Mueller. The article seems to imply that many Jazz Clarinetists used them, including Woody Herman, who played a Boehm System Penzel Mueller.

“In the spring of 1961 when I had my record and music shop at 731 St. Peter St, New Orleans, I bought an Albert system (improved) Bflat L.P (Low Pitch) clarinet made by Penzel-Müller & Co. New York. I don’t remember exactly what I paid for it, or where I bought it, but it was probably some amount between $ 10 and $ 15, and it was possibly a store such as the used furniture stores on Magazine Street.

Not long after that George Lewis came in my store one night and I showed him the clarinet. He said he had wanted to own an improved Albert system Penzel-Müller for some time and asked to buy it.(Several New Orleans clarinettists in the past had used them, and I believe today Albert Burbank and Louis Cottrell have Penzel-Müllers)

So I sold him the clarinet for whatever price I had paid for it. He took it to Werleins music store to have new pads and adjustments made. I think he used it quite often during the following years and in fact used it on his last job, when he played with Kid Thomas’ Band at Preservation Hall on Fri. Dec. 13, 1968. The last numbers he played were “My Blue Heaven” and of course Thomas’ final “Theme” song – “I’ll See You In My Dreams”.

Shirley (Lewis) & Carolyn (Buck) said that George always called this Penzel-Müller his “Bill Russell Clarinet”, but I had almost forgotten about it.”

“Penzel-Müller clarinets had a world-wide reputation. Their preference by the most eminent soloists marked them as first class instruments of first class makers. “They combine in the highest degree the essential qualities of free and pure tone, perfection in scale and mechanism, ease of manipulation and execution”, as a Penzel-Müller ad of the 1920s put it.

The Penzel-Müller company was established in New York in 1899 as a partnership between the German immigrants Gustav Ludwig “Louis” Penzel (1855 – 1920) and Edward Georg Müller (1869 – 1956) and existed till 1950. The fact that Penzel & Müller were German-trained craftsmen and that they imported parts for their clarinets (finally marked with the American eagle) from their native place in Vogtland/Saxony a Penzel-Müller Albert clarinet looks slightly different to the common Albert clarinets made by most of other instrument makers: the design is more “German” than “French”.

Beside the classical trained soloists and above mentioned jazz clarinetists George Lewis, Albert Burbank and Louis Cottrell Penzel-Müller clarinets were played by other jazz greats like Sidney Arodin, Willie Humphrey and Woody Herman (the latter used a Penzel-Müller in the Boehm system which was common in big bands)."

Here is information from woodwind.org and saxontheweb:
Author: David Spiegelthal (---.orbital.com)
Date:   2002-01-31 21:50

From what I've read and my limited personal experience with P-M's, I'd say that they were one of the two American manufacturers of consistently high-quality clarinets (the other being Prueffer), although it's debatable whether either company ever achieved the level of the better French manufacturers (B, L, S) or those pesky Japanese folks (Y). P-M was an old company, started as G. Penzel back in the late 1800's I think, then merged with Mueller (maybe around the 1920's??) to become P-M, and as far as I know they ceased to exist somewhere around the WW2 timeframe. I'm writing this off-the-cuff without research (laziness, no doubt) so take all of this with a large lump of salt.

Author: David Spiegelthal (---.orbital.com)
Date:   2002-02-01 13:37

Minor corrections to my previous posting: (a) It does appear that P-M existed at least until 1960, not disappearing around WW2 as I had surmised, and (b) I misspelled "Pruefer" (it has only one "f")

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G. Penzel was one of the precursor companies to Penzel-Mueller (probably the best of the American clarinet makers). No serial number references exist to my knowledge so it will be impossible to determine the exact age of your clarinet. The G. Penzel company was founded in 1881 and ceased operations in 1920 when Gustav Penzel entered into a partnership with Edward Mueller to form the Penzel-Mueller company (known as "G.L Penzel & Mueller" in the early days). Your clarinet was made sometime between 1881 and 1920, most likely towards the end of that range if it is a boehm system clarinet. 
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The model is the Professional. This came from the estate of a family member.  I do not play the clarinet, so I tried to do some research on line.  If you look at photo #2 you will see that this clarinet was Made in France.  Apparently sometime in the late 1920s the Penzel and Mueller Company started producing clarinets in Long Island City, New York.  Before that, the instruments were produced in France.  This is apparently one of those 1920s instruments. French-made clarinets are considered to be of higher quality than the Penzel-Mueller clarinets made in the U.S. The serial number is U-292B

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 Penzel had established as Penzel and Bro. in 1882. Formed the partnership with Muller in 1899. Muller was president from 1920-55. The company was owned by AG Badger 1920-1935. Used trade name Empire State.
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and from saxontheweb forum

G. Penzel later was a partner in Penzel-Mueller, one of the fine American makers of clarinets. They formed their partnership in 1899 (according to the Langwill Index, citation below), so that's an old clarinet you have there.....

Penzel, Johann August (d Lubeck 31 October 1873). WWI fl Lubeck 19c. 
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hennings 1951.
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Penzel, Christoph Friedrich (d ?1896) WWI fl Markneukirchen late 19c. 
BIBLIOGRAPHY: 4/716.705,20.691.
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Penzel, G.L., & Bro. WWI fl New York 1882-1998.
Established 1881 in Germany by the brothers Gustav Ludwig ('Louis') (b Germany 4 October 1855; d New York 27 May 1920) and Gustav F. ('Frederick') Penzel; 1882, on immigration, transferred to New York; 1898 joined by their relative E.G. Muller; 1899 succeeded by PENZEL & MULLER. Specialist in flute (4k-6k models) and clarinet, especially German system.
MARK: [a] (American eagle with downturned wings) / G.L. PENZEL / & BRO. / NEW YORK '(eagle), G.L. Penzel, New York' ADDRESS: 1882-84: 216 Sixth Avenue; 1885-99: 368 Bowery.
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Penzel & Muller (Mueller) WWI fl New York 1899 pl 1950.
1899 established as partnership between G.L. PENZEL and Edward Georg Muller (b Germany 1869; d New York 6 November 1956); from 1920 as 'Penzel & Mueller'; 1920-55 Mueller served as company President, retiring 1925 from production work and building the firm into the leading American maker of standard WWI lines; his sons Walter and Gustave were also active in the firm. From c1920-1935 the firm owned the A.G. BADGER CO.; 1946 the firm Of CLOOS was acquired. Employed trade name 'Empire State'; see also LAUBIN, PRUEFER, W.S. RICHARDS.
MARK: [a: 1899-1920] (American eagle) / G.L. PENZEL & MUELLER / NEW YORK / [b: from 1920] PENZEL-MUELLER / NEW YORK 
ADDRESS: 1899: 368 Bowery; 11)01-216 Cooper Square: 1921-70 31-11, 33rd St, Long Island City, NY. 
INVENTION: application of "Nicolene' (nickel-silver alloy) for WWI keys. 
PATENT: 1899 (US) #023422 (G.L. Penzel and E.G. Mueller): improved 'simplesystem' clarinet mechanism. 
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Farrar in NAMIS 7.3, 8.1(1989). AMIS committee (private communication).

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Phil Pedler,
Apr 20, 2013, 3:31 PM
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