Thursday, October 13, 2016

LaFleur instruments by Boosey & Hawkes

J.R LaFleur & Son were an instrument maker founded in London in 1862 who were acquired by Boosey & Co in 1917. Boosey merged with Riviere & Hawkes in 1930 to become Boosey & Hawkes. LaFleur was maintained as a separate company until the 1930's. Then the brand name was "retired".

Sometime in the 1960's Boosey & Hawkes had the opportunity to buy in budget priced instruments from Eastern Europe - mainly from VMI of the GDR (East Germany) and later Amati of Czechoslovakia.

VMI was based in Markneukirchen and is now known as B&S. This was a collective of factories under communist control making all sorts of brass and woodwind instruments. The people making them were German Speaking Czechs from the Sudetenland who had fled the Russian occupation which happened at the end of the second world war. After they left, the Czech authorities re-established production in collectivised factories using the old names (Amati and Cerveny).

By the 60s, VMI in Markneukirchen was manufacturing student level instruments under the "Weltklang" brand (German for "world sound"). Boosey and Hawkes thought this sounded too Germanic and the word "klang" would make people think they sounded bad so they had them engraved as "La Fleur by Boosey & Hawkes". The same instruments were also imported by Barnes & Mullins Ltd and branded as "B&M Champion". I saw these for sale in an Edinburgh music shop as late as 1994, which must have been old stock. The same instruments were also sold under the Weltklang name by people importing them directly or who had obtained them from bands visiting East Germany who were often part-paid in instruments they could then sell on (Kenny Ball had this arrangement with the East German authorities and mentions it in his autobiography).

From the 70's through to the 90's Boosey & Hawkes moved to obtaining instruments from Amati in Czechoslovakia. Some of them have "LaFleur" engraved on them, but most say "Corton". Then in the 90's Boosey & Hawkes started calling these instruments "Boosey & Hawkes 400 Series". To confuse matters, some of the 400 series instruments were actually made in the USA.

By the late 90's Eastern Europe had collapsed and there was no more subsidised production to earn foreign currency. Boosey & Hawkes decided to establish their own factory in India using tooling from some of their previous ranges of British made instruments. Indian production of the 1000 series trumpet and cornet replaced the previous East European models.

As to quality, well these are sturdily built instruments. Generally the intonation on the trumpets, cornets and flugels are OK. They are as good as the current cheap Chinese ones, and in some ways better as they are more easily repairable and the sturdier construction makes serious damage less likely. It is a question of trying out an instrument and seeing if they are any good. The cheapest trumpet I ever bought was one that turned out to be a Weltklang stencil which I bought recently for £23. It turned out to be OK (video).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sources of used trumpets and cornets in the UK

If you are looking for a second-hand cornet or trumpet in the UK you have a number of options.

Online Instrument Dealers

Most specialist brass shops have websites and will sell by mail order. Here are a selection of links to the second hand pages of some of these dealers:

John Packer
John Myatt
Hayes Music
Prozone Music
Band Supplies
Phil Parker
Dawkes Music
Duchy Brass
First Brass
Trevor Jones
The Wind Section


Non-Specialist Second Hand Dealers

Cash Converters
Cash  Generator


Here are links to searches restricted to results from the UK:


Classified Ad Sites

Gumtree, will return national listings so you will need to narrow it down to your area.
cornets for sale on Gumtree
trumpets for sale on Gumtree

Physical Auctions

You need to pay buyers premium and they won't usually post items, you need to be able to collect. There are a few online bidding services used by auction houses. Here are some of them.

Charity shops and pawnbrokers

You might find trumpets and cornets for sale in charity shops and local pawnbrokers. This would require regular visits as their stock changes regularly.

Monday, August 22, 2016

McQueens Dairies ignoring No Cold Calling Zones

Last week I got a knock on my door from a representative of McQueens Dairies* trying to get me to sign up for milk deliveries. The problem is that my street recently became a "No Cold Calling Zone". This came about because a number of pensioners in the street had been conned out of money by bogus door-to-door salesmen or pressured to sign up to things they did not want. It has been pretty effective with only McQueens (this was their second visit to me), and a few bogus charity collectors ignoring it. To become a No Cold Calling Zone 70% of the residents had to vote in favour. Not 70% of voters but 70% of residents so the vote had to have a very good turn out. The vote was administered by the City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards department and was pretty unequivocal. We even have signs on the lamp posts telling potential salesmen that they should not call. Nobody in the street is likely to buy anything at the door these days.

So enter McQueen's Diaries. On their last visit I had mentioned the new No Cold Calling Zone and given them the benefit of the doubt. This time I pointed out that we had voted that we did not want people knocking on our doors and that they should not be doing so. The salesman then became aggressive, saying that it was only advisory not the law (true), that they had it all "sewn up legally" and there was "nothing we could do about it". Clearly, he had come across this before and had a rehearsed speech. The next thing he came out with was "we are exempt because we already do business in this street" (not true, and he presented no evidence that they do have customers in my street - I have never seen a milk delivery) , and that they were also exempt "because we sell products under a certain price" (not true). When I corrected him he got more aggressive and I had to ask him to leave my property or I would call the police. Fortunately he left, but I was pretty unhappy about his behaviour and did wonder if he might come back and "have a go".

I am not convinced this was an isolated case because the salesman claimed the company had received legal advice and he used very precise wordings in response to me. It was also interesting that although he stated that No Cold Calling Zones were not "the law" he went on to give a list of reasons why McQueens were exempt from the law!

There ARE exemptions to the No Cold Calling Zone rules such as:
  • Everyday traders 
  • Enforcement agencies 
  • Charities 
  • Religious groups 
  • Political canvassers
McQueen's Dairies are not exempt as everyday traders because they are getting you to sign up to a contract, not a one-off sale or a regular casual agreement. Agencies acting for charities are probably also not exempt, especially if they are selling lottery subscriptions.

So, maybe there is nothing I can do to force McQueen's Dairies to respect our No Cold Calling Zone, but I CAN make other people aware of their practices. Have you had McQueens knock on your door?

* I believe this company is McQueens Dairies Ltd of 1 Keppochhill Place, Port Dundas, Glasgow, G21 1HS. The lack of apostrophe in the name is their choice.

Looks like I am not the only person having problems (from Facebook):