Questions and Theories

(updated 2/25/07)

3. Which was the first Chicago Benge trumpet completely made by Elden Benge?

I don't yet have a definitive answer. Many of the earliest trumpets were "mutts," with parts
made by Benge put together with parts from other manufacturers. #500 has a non-Benge valve
cluster; Benge used a bell from a French Besson on #527 and the leadpipe and main tuning
slide from the same Besson are on #528.

#520 could be the first totally Benge-made trumpet, but it's hard to tell from pictures. If you'd
like to judge for yourself please check out Bill Faust's pictures on Jim Donaldson's website at

One aspect that made me lean against #520 being totally made by Benge is that #520, like
#500, has curved windways in the valve cluster. I'd not seen any other Chicago Benge that
had that feature, until Dave Stangarone sent great pictures of #534, which also has curved
windways. #546 is the earliest trumpet for which I've seen straight windways.

According to Joe Summerhill, it was common for trumpet makers of the time to purchase
valve clusters from a mill, although they were assembled by the manufacturers. At some point
Elden Benge made the entire trumpet, but the last portion that he ended up making, it seems,
was the valve cluster.

#546 is a totally Benge-made trumpet, including the valve clusters. We'll see if other trumpets
between #534 and #546 turn up, and the first thing I'll look at is the valve cluster!

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