Questions and Theories

(updated 7/27/17)

2. What was the last Chicago Benge?

This question has recently become more complicated. I believe that Benge made batches of "special" parts for cornets, medium and large bore trumpets; extras of these special parts went with him to Burbank. So how to define a Chicago Benge? The easiest way is to go with the bell logo, with the receiver as another important clue. The bell was the final part attached to the instrument, so that's how I'll define the place of origin. I realize that he occasionally replaced damaged Chicago bells with Burbanks, but that would be covered under "Alterations" in the spreadsheet.

Medium-large bore trumpets:
It's possible that the last Chicago Benge has been located. Up until
now here has been a gap in knowledge between #3338 (a Chicago) and #3352 (a Burbank). #3350
is a Chicago Benge that was owned by Wally Gomulka from Detroit. He purchased it directly from
Elden Benge at the Morse Ave. location. The story is that he went to Benge's house to pick out a
trumpet, played all that were there, and then saw one more horn (the trumpet that Benge was currently
playing) on the piano. He asked to try it, preferred it to the others and Elden sold him the instrument.
Gomulka later switched the bell, putting on a French Besson bell, but the original is in the possession
of another Detroit trumpeter who played in the theater with Gomulka for a number of years and was a
close friend throughout the entire period. He is endeavoring to reunite the parts, but without success at
this point, as he does not own the valve section. The original leadpipe is long gone, it seems. As of
right now, #3350 is the final medium-large (ML) Chicago trumpet. The earliest Burbank that has
turned up is #3352.

Large bore trumpets:
When Elden Benge began making large bore instruments, he decided to
number the L trumpets sequentially, starting at #1500. He continued this practice well into the 1900s,
when he had to stop, as he'd already used the numbers from 2000 on. With the data collected for the
spreadsheet I think that we can compare time periods for the manufacture of the different bore
instruments, but I'll cover that later. The latest Chicago large bore so far is #1700. The earliest Burbank I've found is #1705, so we have the transition period nailed down to five horns!

Medium bore trumpets:
#637 is unquestionably a Chicago Benge with a diameter of .453"; #728 is
the same. The next two M Chicagos provide for an interesting discussion. #947 is a medium bore (M)
trumpet with a Burbank bell (no staff logo). Any one trumpet can exhibit any random feature, of
course; two with similar features makes me think that there's a pattern involved. A recent addition to
the list is #945: an M bore with a Burbank bell (WITH staff logo)! Did Benge make a batch of
medium parts, assemble and sell a few and keep the rest around until he received orders for M horns?
And did some of those parts hang around until he moved to Burbank? According to Art Depew in a
phone interview, this is exactly what happened with the large bores: Benge made a pile of valve
sections in Chicago and made large bore trumpets from them as the orders came in. Are #945 and
#947 really Burbank trumpets? At this point I think that it's possible (#947 has a single line, Burbank
style receiver), but I'd like to get more M trumpets into this sample before I feel comfortable treating
the M horns in the same manner as the L horns. On my sheet I have these two M horns listed with the
Chicago trumpets. The latest medium-bore Chicago so far is #2781.

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