"STENCIL" OBOE INSTRUMENTS
Over the course of decades of collecting and trading oboes, oboes d'amore, and English horns, I have come across many "stencil" instruments stamped with a "trademark" other than the stamp of the actual maker. The list of "stencil" instruments I have compiled includes instruments that were fettled by the company or artisan whose trademark appears on the instruments. I intend that the list be viewed as a "rough guide" to the realm of "stencil" brands - many mysteries, many surprises. I surmise that many, perhaps most, of the French stencil marks in the "Ds" such as DuPre, Duvall, Dumont, Deschamps, Durand, etcetera were in fact made by either Cabart or Malerne.
Some "stencil" instruments were sold to various companies "unfinished" or "semi-finished," with the intent that the firm marketing and branding the instrument would have their own artisans complete the voicing. Sometimes, the final voicing was not completed, and the instruments simply shipped out "as is." I recently had a "LaFleur" Rosewood professional oboe that was in fact made by Hans Kreul. It was gorgeous to behold, with gleaming "Buck Rogers model" ( Mack's pet phrase for oboes overwrought) keywork, and beautifully figured Rosewood. It did not play at all! I sent this oboe to Tom Hiniker for voicing.
Tom worked on this "LaFleur" oboe for about an hour or so, employing a myriad of reamers. Tom said that he created a huge pile of wood shavings on his bench from all the reaming. Voicing completed, the oboe played beautifully. I have had exactly the same experience with a "LaFleur" (Malerne) English horn, and new Thibaud oboe and new Thibaud English horn.
One of the curiousities I have had was a "Cabart" English horn that was in fact made by Malerne! I suspect this instrument was made in 1974 just as Loree was negotiating to purchase the Cabart firm. The Malerne "Cabart" was likely branded to fill an order after Cabart had ceased production of English horns.
The "Laubin" English horns of the 1950s through mid 1976 were made by Malerne and voiced/fettled by Laubin. Some were the "standard" model Malerne, and some made expressly to Laubin specifications, I surmise having a slightly larger bore. On occasion, I find "stencil" Malerne English horns that seem to have the larger bore.
A note about the two makers of most ubiquitous stencil instruments. In the realm of oboes, Cabart was an inconsistent maker. Some Cabart oboes play exquisitely, with a "haunting" and "penetrating" sound. Many of the ring system Cabart oboes from the 1920s and 1930s- sublime. And some Cabart oboes should be best used for wall decorations or lamps. The "post-war" Cabart English horns, both ring and plateau, can often be of remarkable merit, also possessing a "haunting," "penetrating," and "BIG" sound. Sadly, Malerne does not rate well at all in the oboe department. I usually advise clients to avoid Malerne oboes altogether, though on occasion I have found a Ben Storch voiced Malerne "Benwal" oboe that plays very well.
However, Malerne overall made excellent English horns. I usually refer to Malerne English horns as the "Mercedes Benz" of English horns.* Malerne was bought out by Marigaux in 1976, and Marigaux is still making the same excellent "Malerne model" (standard bore) English horn today with only a few minor changes in the ergonomics of the keywork.
In the discussion of stencil instruments, mention must be made of the Chiasserini fake "Loree" oboes and English horns. Chiasserini was a woodwind "impresario" in New York City in the 1940s-1960s. Chiasserini won a contract to provide the US Army with Loree instruments. Seeing a opportunity that would impress Boss Tweed, Chiasserini simply bought a plethora of unmarked Malerne oboes and English horns, stamped the instruments "F. Loree" and attempted to pass the instruments off to the US Army as genuine Loree. The fake Loree trademarks can appear to be most convincing. Chiasserini even went so far as to establish a front company called "F. Loree USA." Chiasserini's scheme was exposed, and legal action ensued. Many of the bogus "Loree" instruments show up for sale nowadays - Ebay buyers: BEWARE! Almost all of the Chiasserini fakes have serial numbers in the "B" series. Many of the oboes have a serial number beginning with "BS"- I find this completely apropos. I have a Chiasserini fake Loree (Malerne) English horn, with a "BG" serial number. It is a glorious instrument, very stable, beautifully voiced, impeccable scale, and possessed of a "foundation shaking" resonance. A cursory inspection would have many an oboist convinced that this is a in fact a B series Loree. However, some slight differences in keywork patterns exist between the genuine Loree English horns and the Malerne instruments of the 1960s.
The list of "stencils" offered here is simply what I have seen so far. I expect to revise, expand, correct this list over time. I welcome comments and suggestions.
*I often refer to Cabart English horns as the "Buick" of English horns, and I reserve the designation "Rolls-Royce" for some of the BW series (Storch) Chauvet, certain vintages of Loree, and for sure many of the Laubin instruments.
Peter Hurd studied oboe with Virginia Liebold, Harvey McGuire, John Mack, and Jerry Sirucek. After a long stint in the family engineering business, "Olympic Carillon," designing and building (real) carillons, Peter has retired and keeps busy helping oboists find instruments though his business: www.oboes.us
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