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Pierret Instrument Models

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Pierret History

"L. Pierret & Cie." started making horns in 19061, per the New Langwill Index. They were a saxophone-only shop outside of Paris and made a variety of stencils for Olds, Paul Beuscher, Santy Runyon and others. Their chief designers appear to have been Henri & Roger Junck.

Some horns, particularly early models, are stamped (and I translate) "From the former workers of Millereau and Besson"2. This MAY indicate that L. Pierret was formed from workers from these companies or was a wholly owned subsidiary or some such: we know, from the New Langwill Index, that Millereau was purchased by Selmer in 19313 (the correct spelling is in the PDF, if you want it) and that Besson was purchased by SML in the late 1940's4, so it's not like Millereau or Besson "morphed" into Pierret.

Pierret stopped making horns around 1972. Some people have put forth the suggestion that Pierret really stopped producing horns around 1963 -- which coincides with the last known Olds Parisian models -- and all other instruments were serialized later and/or stamped with "Parisian Ambassador". At the very least, Pierret's last patent was in 1971.

Pierret had at least two "lines" of saxophone at any one time: "Standard" and ... something else. The "Something Else" usually had additional keywork, such as the front altissimo F key and/or trill keys (generally altissimo D# and G#), and a microtuner neck. This construction paralleled Dolnet in that respect: you had the Bel Air model with the basic keywork and then you had the Royal Jazz editions with the wild trill keys.

However, the real difference seems to have been that the "Standard" models were not only considerably less expensive, according to the below 1952 catalog, but they were "junkier" -- if one can say that the Olds models were "Standard" stencils (and I can't prove that, yet).

If you get OLDER in the Pierret line, you also see instruments that have a range only to low B. This is not necessarily an indication of advanced age: it was a common practice among French (and German) manufacturers. The low B instruments were based on the A. Sax patents and were sold as cheaper "introductory" saxophones. This practice ended in the mid- to late-1930's.

Allow me to also point out that Paul Beuscher and others that stenciled Pierret horns did not ONLY stencil Pierrets. There are, for instance, a LOT of Paul Beuschers that are Dolnets. Additionally, the Olds Parisian Ambassador MAY have had some Beaugnier models thrown in there: there are some with odd serial numbers, in the form of 01-23456 or 123456, and I haven't seen pictures of these.

Another fun thing is that there are several individual variations of each horn. There are at least two models of Super Artiste, for instance. The things you need to look for are keyguards and keywork, particularly the G# cluster. My opinion? The ones to really look for are labeled "Artiste Competition" (or "Constellation") and that have a Buffet SuperDynaction-style G# cluster.

Finally, there's an EXCELLENT review of the Artiste Competition model HERE.

Wild Conjecture

Whenever any interesting French company is mentioned, the first thing out of someone's mouth is, "Were they made by Selmer?" The second is, "Were they made by Buffet?" As with SML, there are some visual similarities (especially with Buffet), but -- also as with SML -- there are patents for Pierret. It's unlikely that a company that just stencils saxophones would have saxophone patents.

Oh. Before someone e-mails me, there is a 1952 catalog5 from a Swedish website that features the Pierret. The correct translation is something like, "We also have Buffet saxophones available in both silver and lacquer. If you want one, we can get you one: they cost a little more." (I have a couple Swedish friends and, if I ask nice, they might give me the exact translation.)

The main annoying thing about Pierret is that their serial numbers seem to mean squat. My opinion is that the serial numbers are representative of each model, rather than a grand total. In other words, a Pierret Modele 7 with a serial number of 7,000 is the 7,000th Modele 7 made, NOT the 7,000th Pierret made. However, the serial numberage may have changed to the traditional form in the late 1940's -- i.e. post WWII -- when the Oxford was introduced, but starting with serial number 1. In other words, I can accept that there were approximately 50,000 Oxford and Artiste horns produced, especially when factoring in the various versions of each and the large amount of stencils of each, especially considering I've seen Super Artiste and Oxford horns with very low serial numberage.

Someone will want to know what the horns are equivalent to. Based on design, close to Beaugnier (Leblanc). Based on keywork, close to Buffet. Based on sound, probably Buffet.

    No, I do not have a serial number chart. I can only assume that the horns were produced as follows:
  • "Unlabeled" or stamped "Corps Embouti" (probably to about 1920)
  • Modele 1-7 (probably discontinued in early to mid-1920's; possibly all were produced concurrently)
  • Vibrator (probably introduced in early to mid-1920's)
  • Virtuor (neck design patented in 1929)
  • Concerto with Virtuor (that's the full model name; probably mid to late 1930's)
  • Super 8 (late 1930's)6
  • ** Probable WW II Hiatus **
  • Oxford (& Santy Runyon stencils -- that'd make these from the 1940's, prior to 1948's Conn Connstellation, or, according to Paul Coats, late 1950's, after the Connstellation. My opinion, because we know the below horns were from the 1950's, is that these were made from 1945 to 1948 or so)
  • Super Artiste (probably produced alongside the below for awhile; post 1953 -- that's when the patent was issued)
  • Artiste Competition (& Olds stencils. Parisian Ambassador seems to be from about 1963 on)

I can speculate a bit further, too.

Couesnon had several lines of horns going at the same time, in the late 1890's and up until around 1937 -- I chronicle these on here, noting the following "models" ...

  • Modele Monopole ("elaborately" engraved)
  • Opera (Series HN)
  • Armee (Series BN) or FourMsseursDeL'Armee
  • Armee (Series GNM)
  • National (Series BO)
  • Universel (Series CGO)
  • Modele SO (or Series SO)
  • And some models may be unmarked

You may wish to note how many models are above...

Most or all of the above were available at the same time and had variations from just engraving to missing keywork (with even low B models). I've seen a Couesnon catalog from the early 1900's that had some of these models advertised -- and with different prices for each.

It's easy to have a whole bunch of models when you're making each horn by hand (and Pierret had some sort of patented device to help them make horns -- patented about 19247).

This theory would adequately explain why the horns up to the Vibrator/Virtuor look practically identical and I think it's possible that the only real difference between the Vibrator/Virtuor and earlier models is the neck. Someone's gonna have to whip out some calipers to check.

Patents

Patent Number Description Better Description Issued Date
FR671054 Clef d'octave pour saxophones ou pour instruments similaires Virtuor model neck design 1929-12-09
FR706508 Sourdine pour instruments %uFFFD vent The "Sourdine" saxophone mute 1931-06-25
FR776599 Tampon pour l'obturation des chemin%uFFFDes des instruments %uFFFD vent Sax pads 1935-01-29
GB455370 Plug for obturating the lateral holes of wind instruments Looks like the British version of FR776599 1936-02-01
FR1020609 Saxophone The Super Artiste model, designed by Henri Junck 1953-02-09
FR1451468 %uFFFDtui pour instrument Instrument case (hey, Conn and Buescher had dozens of these patents) 1966-01-07
FR1516251 Lyre pour instruments %uFFFD vent Funky lookin' lyre 1968-03-08
FR2087406 No title available New neck design 1971-12-31

Players & Names

There are a number of Pierrets labeled "M. Poimboeuf" (see also the Super 8 ad, above). This gentleman -- full name's Hippolyte Poimboeuf -- was the tenor saxophone player in Marcel Mule's sax quartet (with René Chaliné on alto and Georges Chauvet on baritone) and a colleague of his at the Garde Républicaine in Paris. In other words, a very big-name classical player. Check out THIS and THIS for further info. (It helps if you can read French :).

Additionally, and as mentioned above, Santy Runyon commissioned the Oxford model to be used as a stencil for his stores in Texas. Check THIS for further info.

The beautiful Robert Martin Constellation Artiste Competition stencil was made for the Robert Martin music house. You can check out their website.

Vercruysse & Dhondt was also a French dealership in the 1920's. They were, in some way, shape or form related to the Thibouville-Lamy folks (hey -- T-L owned most of the French music biz. Check THIS out).

C. Jeuffroy was a trade name from Noblet-Thibouville (there's that name again and yes, that's the Noblet that's part of Leblanc). The earliest mention I could find on the web of "C. Jeuffroy" was from 1880.

Martin Freres was a former producer of instruments and went full into the stenciling biz in about 1927, if I read my Google right.

The main point of all this: these are really, really respected names. It proves that Pierret isn't exactly a "toss it in the closet and forget it" sax.

Pierret Feature Pages

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Footnotes & References

  1. See http://jeanluc.matte.free.fr/articles/typologie/1913/102
  2. See http://jeanluc.matte.free.fr/articles/typologie/1913/260.jpg
  3. See http://www.selmer.fr/html/french/historique/histo/histo.htm
  4. See http://www.angelfire.com/music2/thecornetcompendium/new_page_8.html
  5. See http://www.hagstrom.org.uk/52Cat/1952hagcat38.htm
  6. See http://jeanluc.matte.free.fr/articles/typologie/pubsax2.jpg
  7. See http://v3.espacenet.com/textdoc?DB=EPODOC&IDX=FR570042&F=0
  8. Thanks to Helen Kahlke. She's one of the first folks that asked me about Pierret and has a nice website with more Pierret pics: http://www.bassic-sax.ca/pierret1.html
  9. Jean Monange. One day, I started just getting these e-mails from this French person. Lots of Pierret stuff and other information on his website:http://web.mac.com/mjean2/Passions/Instruments_Passions.html (Again, helpful if you can read French.)

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