This is a very interesting A clarinet from around 1900-1920.
The three parts are marked
I am not absolutely sure on a couple of the letters of the marking, as the stamp is rather faint on all three joints. There is no serial number.
Bore in the middle: 14.8mm
The most noticeable feature is that the barrel is one piece with the left hand joint. There is also some interesting shaping of the wood, especially around the left hand third finger tone hole.
This has to be one of the rarest instruments I have worked on: An A clarinet, made by an unheard of French maker, with unusual characteristics.
This instrument was purchased in France fairly recently by a Kansan instrument collector who goes there once per year and attends auctions.
From appearances, this instrument was relegated to a shelf in the barn where monkey wrenches and pliers were also thrown from time to time. The wood has big gouges and dents, but miraculously, the keys were not bent.
The response is very nice, and not stuffy like some A clarinets.
Bear in mind that I test intonation playing loud and pushed in all the way:
The intonation is OK. The clarinet is generally sharp enough that there might almost be room to pull out a little. The low mid-register notes are a concern, but can be lipped more into tune when not playing as loud as I do when testing. Bear in mind that with my reed, mouthpiece, and embouchure, I tend to need a shorter barrel than the standard 66mm. (I play a 64.2 barrel with the electric keyboard in our church on my Lyrique clarinet.) So to the question, “Could I play the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with this instrument?” I would have to answer, “Yes, but because of the key of that particular piece, only if you are the kind of player who can normally play a 65-66mm barrel.” But for anyone who will not be asked to play that concerto, this is a lovely, resonant instrument. If lipping and intelligent playing are not enough, using a sharper mouthpiece and reed combination will also help.
I tried undercutting some holes more to bring up the pitch. This was partially successful.
This instrument has most of the features I like in the best French stencil clarinets, such as those of Couesnon.
Note the unusual shaping around the ring finger hole. Also the C#/G# key is the type that has a leaf spring under it. The end of the screw is visible here. The tone hole for the same key has no beveling around it.
Was this clarinet an experiment to see if resonance would be greater if not interrupted with a separate barrel?
No. Information from a recent contact: A knowledgeable clarinetist says that both Buffet and Couesnon made instruments with a unified left-hand joint like this.
But the instrument has a lovely resonance and response.