1. When was my Benge made?
Always a slightly tricky question, of course. Although Benge trumpets were always in demand it's
probable that some sat around after being made. With some Chicagos, it's also possible that
Elden Benge played them for awhile being shipping them to a buyer. Paul Williamson's #614 was
purchased new in 1942, but I have a receipt for #747 with a purchase date of 1940. When Benge
repaired #614 in the 1950s he remarked to Paul, "I remember this horn!" It's quite possible that Benge
played the horn with WGN for a period of time before moving on to another newly-made horn.
In the past, estimates have been made by others using a probable rate of manufacture, but the sample
was small. I'm choosing to date the trumpets by their purchase date. I've gathered receipts and oral
history for a number of horns and I'll list only the horns for which I have solid (or fairly solid) data.
A number of years ago, Benge dealer Tom Lovitt listed his sales on the old Benge Nut page. I'm
also listing selected horns from his data, as it's clear that he had a number of Benges available and,
they didn't sell in numerical order.
One other thing that throws off a logical sequence of numbers for the Burbank Benges is the fact that
it took some time before Elden Benge hit his stride. After the 1953 move it took quite a while for him
to get the personnel in place. As he stated in a September 1956 letter to Ron Modell, "Until this year,
I had only screened out one expert helper after having tried the best available but more recently I
have acquired two more men and I can now say that their work is the best I have ever had in my
shop." In October he wrote this to Modell, "My new helper on valve fitting is doing excelent (sic)
and because that has been the bottleneck we have quite a few trumpets almost ready for that work
which means that we should be able to get more trumpets finished during the next three months than
ever before during a like period."
The transition from Chicago to Burbank has gotten less murky: the Engle letter confirms that
Elden Benge was still selling trumpets in June 1953 in Chicago, and a November 1953 letter
from Benge to Earl Quinn regarding #3353 was sent from Burbank.
Click here to return to the Chicago Benge home page.