Missenharter Excelsior Cornet















































































































































































































































































































Missenharter / Coleman
Excelsior Cornet
Philadelphia, PA

This Missenharter cornet is an interesting transition piece from the original New York factory to the new Philadelphia one. Charles Missenharter sold the business to Harry Coleman in 1891 who kept producing his famous band instruments in New York until October of 1892 when everything was moved to Philadelphia. This cornet has serial #9034 which puts it in late 1892 or early 1893 and before the late 1893 Chicago award shows up on the bell engraving.

This looked pretty cruddy with the dark patina but I could tell by the color that it was going to clean up very well. Here it is with its original case and accessories.

Missenharter Cornet

Not much restoration to do here except for some dents in the bell crook and a complete cleaning with new felts and corks. This is set up with the low pitch slide but it also came with a high pitch one. The mouthpiece is a Henry Distin from my collection that fits this well.

Missenharter Cornet Coleman

The first cornets produced in Philadelphia followed this new design where the bell enters the valves high and travels in a staight line down through the valves. This may have been invented by Henry Distin and was perfected by Ferdinand Coeuille who called it the "Telescope" model (read update at bottom). Below is the Missenharter next to a Coeuille from c.1905. At first glance, it would seem like they were made by the same person but there are some subtle differences. The bell curve is shaped different and parts like the valve caps will not interchange. The bore is also slightly different.

This thankfully has tight valves and plays great. The second valve in these photos is slightly lower than the others but this is actually where it is aligned perfectly.

The next task was to clean up the case. A piece of thin lamb skin leather was used to wrap the two halves after all the hardware was removed. The hardware cleaned up nice since most of it was brass and just needed some polishing. I had to leave a joint on each side but was able to cover each half with one piece of leather. New leather cord matches the original missing handles.

Missenharter Cornet Case 1

Missenharter Cornet Case 2

Missenharter Cornet Case 3

More insite into the change in cornet design with the move to Philadelphia came when I started researching maker Jean Vivien (1832-1896) of France. He moved to New York City in 1863 and remained there until 1884 when he started working for JW Pepper in Philadelphia. At this time he would have worked with Distin and Coeuille. By 1887, Vivien had opened his own shop in that city and in 1892 he patents a cornet slide design. The drawing below for that shows the telescope design.

Does this look familiar or what? It is said that Harry Coleman, who had recently purchased Missenharter and moved it to Philadelphia, bought out the business of Vivien and hired him to build his horns. It would certainly seem plausible.

The last piece of this project was finding the correct mouthpiece. A number of months later I bought this period mouthpiece to complete the set.

Missenharter Cornet Mouthpiece