Forbes Sibley graduated in January 1936 from Pontiac H.S.
in Pontiac, Michigan. His band director, the legendary Dale Harris, may have been acquainted with Elden Benge from Benge's days as Principal Trumpet of the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra. Sibley, the sole owner of Benge #500, bought the trumpet directly from the maker, most likely at the suggestion
of Mr. Harris, and received a letter from Benge in August
1936 confirming this purchase. We are most fortunate that,
in addition to the trumpet, Sibley kept the letter and its
envelope, pictured below, for his entire life. Not only is this
fortuitous from a research standpoint, but it pinpoints a
possible starting date for Benge trumpets. Oral history had
held that the first Benge trumpet sold was #525, but over the
past few years #500, #513, #520 and #522 have come to light. Donald Benge verified his father's signature on the letter,
although he was not totally convinced about the authenticity
of #500, as his father sometimes mentioned #525 as his
starting point. However, Elden Benge was not a
meticulous record keeper, as is underscored by the date of
the letter to Forbes Sibley (August 10, 1932); the postmark
on the envelope has the correct date (August 10, 1936).
In an October 7, 1951 interview with Genevieve Flavin
(Chicago Sunday Tribune), she states: "Fashioned for his personal use, the first trumpet was sent by Benge to a
musician in Michigan in 1935. The Benge trumpet made
its symphonic debut in a symphony in 1937 when one was
sold to a member of the Chicago Symphony orchestra."