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Boosey & Hawkes and Besson

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  • davewerden
    • Nov 2005
    • 11127

    Boosey & Hawkes and Besson

    Copied from another post, but very useful. Provided by Doug Ruby.

    Boosey & Hawkes was both a music publisher and instrument manufacturer prior to 1948. Boosey & Hawkes bought Besson London in 1948 and manufactured instruments under both names post WWII. Boosey & Hawkes purchased Buffet-Crampon in 1981 as well as other manufacturers in Europe through the 1990's. The "Lottery Years" began in the 1990's with the availability of funding from the British National Lottery for arts groups. Over-production during the lottery years directly led to the downfall of Boosey & Hawkes in the early 2000's. This downfall included quality issues, but the biggest issue was too much inventory due to the over production. Accounting irregularities (aka "channel stuffing") in its Chicago-based US distribution led to a £13m loss in 2001. Boosey & Hawkes went into receivership in 2001 and was broken up in 2003. The Boosey & Hawkes name and publishing business was acquired by Hg Capital for £40m. The instrument manufacturing was sold for £33.2m to The Music Group. The Music Group spun out the various companies (Buffet Crampon, Besson, Hohner, Schreiber & Keilwerth) in early 2005.

    The London factory on Edgeware Road was shut down as a cost-cutting measure in late 2001 with serial number 890008 being the last Besson London instrument. My Sovereign is a very late Edgeware Road horn with a serial number of 886505. Instruments manufactured in 2002 through 2005 with serial numbers higher than 890008 have parts fabricated at Schreiber-Keilwerth in Markneukirchen, Germany but were assembled and tested in Watford, Hertfordshire. These later instruments were still marketed with a "Made in England" stamp on the bell. The Besson brand went into receivership on Dec. 8, 2005. There was essentially no production of Besson brass instruments from late 2005 until late 2006/early 2007. This led to a plethora of great new instruments from competitors and a complete realignment of artist sponsorships, but that is another story.

    In 2006, Buffet Crampon (now a successful separate company) purchased the Besson name but not the manufacturing capability out of the receivership. New Besson branded low brass were made at a B&S factory in Markneukirchen using all new tooling. There were a very limited set of Prestige and Sovereign euphoniums made in November and December of 2006 but volume production and Tuba manufacturing didn't start until later in 2007. We call these the "German" Bessons. They have serial numbers on the leadpipe receiver instead of the bell. My January 2007 Prestige had a serial number of 06-000175 and was from just the third production batch of German horns. After the 2005 receivership, Schreiber-Keilwerth was stuck with its investment in tooling from the "Besson London" brass instruments and tried to compete with Buffet Crampon under the York name from 2007 until it too was acquired by Buffet Crampon in August 2010 and York production was shut down.

    [This was to answer a question about the quality of horns from a given year]
    The horn in question here with a serial number of 899637 was from "The Music Group" era rather than the "lottery era" and would have had parts that were made in Markneukirchen using the original Edgeware Road tooling but assembled in Watford. As David Werden stated, each horn is different and this may be a great player (or it may not).
    Last edited by daruby; 01-20-2017, 07:07 PM.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  • Jasonium
    • Dec 2007
    • 78

    Great read. This puts my old 898xxxx Besson into perspective. It did, indeed, say "Made in England" on the horn.
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