Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Selmer Balanced Trumpet model 19A

Being a life long Louis Armstrong fan and a trumpet player I have always fancied owning one of the distinctive trumpets Louis was known for playing. Over the years I have seen a couple of the 1930's versions for sale. These were made in a frosted silver plated finish and have Louis Armstrong Special engraved on the bell. There was also a version with Nat Gonella's name on the bell. The post war Selmer balanced models were not very popular in the UK so there are not many available second hand and most are the larger bore model 23 or 24.

I recently had a problem with a flugel horn case that went mouldy and in my search for a replacement i came across an instrument repairer who had a number of vintage instruments for sale. This included a 19A and 23A Selmers in the balanced configuration. These had been traded in at some point in the past, but he had hung onto them because they were so unusual. The 23A was in poorer condition and in need of a valve job, but the 19A was in its original case and had been well played, but well looked after. There are a few tiny dents (the usual music stand dings) but barely noticeable. The serial number dates it to 1952, but valve compression is practically as it was when new. I know who owned the instrument originally and it may have been purchased new in the USA.

The Case

This is a zip up case with a badge that says Selmer USA on it. A totally faded lable inside turns out to say "Chesterfield patent" on it when I took a photo and adjusted the brightness and contrast on it.
It is clearly the original case, or at least made for a balanced trumpet as all the cut outs are in the correct place and there is no sign of modification.

The Trumpet

The instrument has some decorative engraving on the bell, measures to 0.450" bore size (small bore) and has 19A stamped on the receiver. There are no other markings other than the serial number and usual Selmer stamps on the bell. It has the original stop rod for changing it to the key of A. The bell is small by modern standards with a very slender profile and a reinforcing ring/garland next to the rim. The ring on the third valve slide is below the slide.

The instrument has about 75% if the lacquer remaining on the bits that are supposed to be lacquered. I am tempted to have this redone by a good restorer - as much to preserve the metal as to make it look better, but as it stands it has a lot of character.

Selmer 19A Balanced Trumpet

Selmer Paris 19A

Stop rod for A and underslung adjustment ring.

Characteristic Selmer Paris pinky ring.

19A stamped on the receiver indicating a .450" bore, which is what it measures to.

Decorative engraving on the bell.


It plays more openly than I expected for such a narrow bore model and compared to 1930's pea shooter style trumpets. It has that characteristic carrying sound with not many overtones. It is not a loud instrument and won't take a huge amount of air.

The receiver is old style French which means a modern mouthpiece will not fit exactly. I may need to get a mouthpiece sleeved to fit it better as this should help with resistance and intonation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Investigation into Revelation TV by the Charity Commission

I have updated my long standing article about Revelation TV to include information about an investigation into the Revelation Foundation by the Charity Commission.

Having reflected on this I suspect that those hoping for something to happen will be disappointed.

The Charity Commission is very reluctant to take action in cases like this, usually citing concerns about loss of benefit to beneficiaries or bringing the voluntary sector into disrepute. Even when they do take action this information is only publicly available for a short period of time, and are not held in a public archive. See this article from another blogger for an argument against this policy - which cites the story of payments to the pastor of a church from charitable funds.

The investigation

The investigation seems to centre on transactions between the Revelation Foundation and commercial companies who provide services to Revelation TV, but have directors who are trustees, or former trustees, of the foundation.

Possible effects of the Investigation

The general feeling amongst Christians on social media commenting on this seems polarised into two camps:

1. Those who say it is a satanic attack against Christians, often linking it to Rory Alec's recent fall at God TV which they view as the work of Satan to undermine Christians. An article here by Christian Media Watch is a good example of this.

2. Those who are not keen on the word-of-faith preachers promoted by these channels who view it as the removal of false witness from the airwaves by God.

Both sides apportion these events to external supernatural forces. Neither is keen for responsibility to lie with individuals. Maybe that would be too difficult as it would require people to be seen as more fallible than they had presented themselves.

The truth is, that in neither case do we know what really happened. We will probably never know the whole truth as that usually lies somewhere between the claims of the accused and the accuser. The one thing we can be sure of is that this is going to galvanise financial support for both organisations amongst their most ardent supporters, which will compensate for any loss of the less committed.

We need to wait for a conclusion to the Charity Commission's investigation into the Revelation Foundation, which could take many months.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is Virgin Galactic really about cutting edge space exploration?

I had not thought about this until the crash this week, but a lot of the news coverage has focused on how cutting edge the Virgin Galactic programme is and how dangerous space exploration is.

However, we have been going into space for over fifty years. A quick comparison of Virgin Galactic with the US Mercury space programme (Project Mercury) makes interesting reading.

Project Mercury
1959-1963 (4 years)
7 successful launches into space
7 astronauts
161-280 km max height
0 deaths
$0.4bn cost (at 2014 values)

Virgin Galactic
2004- (10 years at least)
0 successful launches into space
0 astronauts
100 km max height (planned - just enough to count as leaving the earth's atmosphere)
4 deaths
$1.73bn cost (at 2014 values)

We were sending people into space over fifty years ago so going into space is not cutting edge. Reusable spacecraft were pioneered 25 years ago with the space shuttle. It seems to me that if Virgin Galactic is an experiment, then it is an experiment in economics rather than in space exploration. Its about how money can be made from space rather than how we get there or why we should be going.