Boston Double Horn
If you were a U. S. Army horn player after World War I you might play this
Boston Musical Instrument Company
Double Horn in F and Bb

Label :
by the
Boston Musical Instrument

Double horn with rotary change valve

Serial Number:

Date of Manufacture:
ca. 1925 - 1928 based on serial number
 F and Bb

4 rotary


Bell Flare:
[no seams observed due to plating]

Bell Throat:
7.0 cm

Bell Diameter:
30.5 cm

Base Metal:
Yellow Brass

Silver plated

(click on photos for larger view)

The horn shown above is the only known model of a double horn offered by the Boston Musical Instrument Company. The wrap is the same as the very popular C.F. Schmidt model double horn however the change valve operated by the player’s thumb is a rotary valve, whereas the distinctive feature of  the original C.F. Schmidt design dating from 1900 was its Périnet piston change valve (see below).  The change valve on this horn follows a utility patent (D.R.G.M. 182267) by Firma Ed. Kruspe from 1902 where the rotor is pushed horizontally. An example of the Kruspe horn is found in the collection of the Musikwisssenschlaftilishes Institute of Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

This horn appears to have been very well-used since its silver plating shows considerable wear. As received it was in very poor shape with several missing braces and broken solder joints but with very few patches and dents. Three other examples of this model horn are known. Serial number 24831 is owned by Michael Keller, who has recorded the sales of two others: number 25437, which was missing it's thumb lever, was sold in December, 2006. Serial number 25509, just 3 numbers higher than the one shown here, was sold on July 06, 2010. It and the subject horn are both is stamped U S Q M C (United States Quartermaster Corps) suggesting that they were part of the same contract with the U.S. Army. (See the table of BMIC instruments supplied to the U.S.Q.M.C. at the bottom of this page.)

The Boston Musical Instrument Company was the successor to The Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory which was founded in 1869 with partners Henry Esbach, Louis F. Hartmann, and William Goldmann Reed.  The company was originally located at 71 Sudbury Street in the premises formerly occupied by E.G. Wright. On July 6, 1899 the building was destroyed by fire and the firm relocated to 51 Chardon Street. Henry Esbach died in 1902 and his share of the company passed to Louis F. Hartmann. About that time the company name was changed from the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory to the Boston Musical Instrument Company, however it was not incorporated under that name until 1913. Louis F. Hartmann died in 1903 leaving William Reed as the sole surviving original partner and owner. In December of 1898 Reed had married Mary Brabrook Gale, daughter of Boston businessman George W. Gale (1837 - 1916).  In 1904 management was turned over to the Gale family with her George W. Gale, as President and Director, and his son, Willard N. Gale, treasurer.1 William G. Reed died the following year leaving the company fully in the hands of the Gale family. The Gales had no direct experience in musical instruments making and not much time to devote to the firm. At first the company continued to prosper but following the Bankers' Panic of 1907 it dwindled to a fraction of its former worth as indicated by its tax valuations.2 On January 1, 1913 the company was incorporated, and $9,000 in preferred and $21,000 in common stock was authorized.3 Geroge W. Gale died in Boston on July 29, 1916 and his son Willard Gale took over as president, with Paul Dean, clerk. Charles R. Harris was engaged as manager but his background in restaurant management and with a milling company was not well-suited to the company.

 Following World War I the Boston Musical Instrument Company was sold to Cundy-Bettoney. In 1918 the two companies were at separate locations but by 1921 they were both located at 51 Chardon Street. Boston Musical Instrument Company continued in operation until about 1928. On January 4, 1927 the authorized preferred stock was reduced by $5,400 to $3,600, and the common stock by $12,000 to $9,000. The corporation was not formally dissolved until March 23, 1955.

The high serial numbers of this horn and the earlier one marked USQMC mentioned above, places their estimated date of manufacture late in the company’s history, probably in the late 1920s.4


Thumb Operated Change Valve

 BMIC double horn S/N 24831

Photo courtesy of Michael Keller

C.F. Schmidt Piston
The photo above left shows the rotary thumb valve used to switch the horn from F to Bb. It has a lever mounted above with a typical string linkage to the rotor.  This lever is pressed downward by the player to activate the rotor. This lever is not the original one, however, which can be seen at the left of the rotor attached and pivoted at the lower knuckle. Missing is its spring and the arm that would be connected to the rotor by a string linkage. The player would press the lever horizontally to the right to activate the rotor. The center photo shows this arrangement on the horn owned by Michael Keller. This earlier rotor is much taller than on the subject horn and the valve ports are spaced farther apart. For comparison, the photo at the right shows the true C.F. Schmidt piston change valve.
Despite the statement on the label that it was “Made by The Boston Musical Instrument Company” these horns were most likely imported. This is suggested by the use of metric thread screws in the valve assembly and by the four-pointed star-shaped feet on the braces that are peculiar to the instruments of A.K. Hüttl of Graslitz, Czechoslovakia.5 Other secondary characteristics such as the pinky hook and bell brace, shown below can be useful indicators, but have not yet  been  associated with any specific maker.

Some Boston Musical Instrument Company Instruments
Supplied to the U.S. Quartermaster Department / Corps

Serial Number7 Year
Eb Tuba (BMIM)
Baritone (BMIM)
15219 1900
3-Star Bb Cornet ("Ne Plus Ultra")
17337 1905
3-Star Bb Trumpet
17835 1906
Bb Trumpet
Tenor Trombone
Bb Trumpet
3-Star Trumpet
3-Star Bb/A Trumpet ("Ne Plus Ultra")
Tenor Trombone
ca. 1915
3-Star Bb/A Cornet ("Ne Plus Ultra")
Tenor Trombone
BBb Helicon
3-Star Trumpet
Single Horn in F
Single  Horn
This double horn
ca. 1925-1928
Double Horn
ca. 1925-1928

Special thanks to Mike Keller for additional information on other examples of BMIC double model horns, including his own, and for the use of a photo of the thumb lever linkage on his horn. Thanks also to Robb Stewart and Robert Eliason for tax and serial number data.


1. Ayars (1937) states the year of the name change as 1913, however The Directory of Directors in the City of Boston and Vicinity 1905 and following show Mr. Gale as president and director of Boston Musical Instrument Company. Other sources state the name was changed as early as 1902. At the same time Mr. Gale also held the same titles with the George W. Gale Lumber Co., the Lumber Mutual Fire Insurance Co. of Boston,  and National City Bank (Cambridge). In 1915 Mr. Gale and four other directors of the bank, were found guilty of negligence connected with the failure of the bank in 1909 due to the actions of bookkeeper, George W. Coleman.

2. The tax valuation in 1907 was 10,000 but in 1908 it fell to 6,800. I rose to 8,000 in 1910 but then fell back to 5000 the following year. At the time of incorporation in 1913 it plummeted to 1,200  and then to a low of 1,100 in 1915 where it remained until sold to Cundy-Bettoney in 1919. (Tax valuations from the City of Boston Archives, compiled by Robert Eliason).

3. After 1913 ownership and management of the company becomes somewhat murky. According to an article in the Elkhart Indiana Daily Review in 1913, Karl Blessing, son of Elkhart brass insturment maker Emil Blessing, was a salesman for Boston Musical Instrument Co. The same article mentions that Karl Nelson was "head" of the company, Karl (Carl) Nelson, was also a principal in Vega Co. in Boston, founded in 1881 by Swedish-born Julius Nelson and several partners. Later his brother Carl joined the firm and became the office and sales manager. The company manufactured fretted string instruments. Its shop was located across the street from Boston Musical Instruments Company. In 1905 they absorbed the plectrum instrument making of Thompson & Odell and about four years later, their brass instrument manufacturing business at 62 Sudbury St, the former works of Hall and Quinby.

4. A list of serial numbers compiled by Robb Stewart ends with 22220 in 1920, a year after the BMIC was acquired by Cundy-Bettoney. All of the numbers on known examples of this model horn are greater than that so it must be assumed that C-B was responsible for arranging the import.

5. The very prolific firm A.K. Hüttl was founded by Anton Konrad Hüttl (1826 -1901) in 1877, and flourished in Graslitz, Czechoslovakia until 1945. An advertisement from 1913 claimed it was the largest, most modern, and highest yield factory of Austria-Hungary and Germany. In 1925 it employed a workforce of over 200. Interestingly, three long-time workers at the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory and subsequent Boston Musical Instrument Company were the brothers Anton, Erhardt, and Ferdinand Hittl (or Hüttl). No direct relationship to the firm A.K. Hüttl has been established, however, and these horns were made long after the lives of these men.

6. The Quartermaster Corps is the U.S. Army's oldest logistics branch, established 16 June 1775. On that date the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution providing for "one Quartermaster General of the grand army and a deputy, under him, for the separate army." From 1775 to 1912 this organization was known as the Quartermaster Department. In 1912, Congress consolidated the former Subsistence, Pay, and Quartermaster Departments to create the Quartermaster Corps.

7. Additional instrument and serial numbers courtesy of Michael Keller,  dates compiled by Robb Stewart.

Ayars, Christine Merrick. Contributions to the art of music in America by the music industries of Boston, 1640 to 1936, H.W. Wilson Co., New York, 1937

Waterhouse, William, The New Langwill Index of Wind Instrument Makers and Inventors, pub.Tony Bingham, London 1993

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