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 I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: StevenWayne 
Date:   2017-11-03 19:11
Attachment:  z1.jpg (532k)
Attachment:  z2.jpg (786k)
Attachment:  z3.jpg (1123k)

H. O'Brien, Indianapolis, Bb mouthpiece. Hard rubber, but the table, facing, rails and tip are formed by inlaid metal. The metal extends beyond the tip slightly. Good shape, plays OK with a medium stiff reed, but maybe a little stuffy. Perhaps a softer reed would play better? It says "Facing 3S" on the side. Needs new cork, which I can do myself (I'm finally doing a good job at re-corking thanks to you all here).

Anyone had one of these before? Your opinions? Thanks.

Post Edited (2017-11-03 19:34)

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-03 19:49

Rubber O'Brien mouthpieces are quite rare. Harry O'Brien's fame rests on being the foremost American maker of glass crystal mouthpieces for many decades, going back to the time of the Sousa Band. The vast majority of crystals have been produced by the O'Briens and by Pomerico in Italy. This includes most Selmer, Leblanc, H. Blayman, Buffet, Vandoren, and M. Lurie crystals. I'm not sure who made the old Alelandais and Chedeville crystals, though.

This is the first rubber O'Brien I've seen with a metal inlay. Incidentally, Pete Fountain's first clarinet had the name O'Brien stamped on it. Probably a stencil.

Post Edited (2019-05-08 23:23)

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-04 02:22

There's a little bio on Harry O'Brien, the founder of the company.

To read it, Google to Frequent Traveler Ancestry Music and Family History: Harry O'Brien. No mention, though, of any rubber or rubber with metal inlay mouthpieces, just the crystal ones. Members of the O'Brien family continued to make the crystals for several years after Harry's death. It would be hard to know the date on your rubber/metal inlay piece without a lot more information. Also hard to know if Harry made it or he or someone else in the family stamped the O'Brien logo on another brand of mouthpiece. The absence of rubber O'Briens in the used market as compared with the fairly frequent appearance of the crystals suggests either that the rubber ones are very rare, very very old, or both. The article also mentions the O'Brien clarinet. The crystal mouthpiece that Irving Fazola sometimes played and passed on to Pete Fountain was most probably an O'Brien.

Klose said that he preferred the sound and stability of a crystal mouthpiece, but that was many years before the time of O'Brien. Did Klose play a crystal made by "Charly" or "Charlay?" I seem to have seen that info somewhere but cannot locate it now.

Post Edited (2017-11-04 09:54)

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: StevenWayne 
Date:   2017-11-04 03:36

Thanks for the information!

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: eddiec 2017
Date:   2017-11-04 11:31

This looks like his patent for the metal inlay idea. 1920.

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2017-11-04 13:31

I have a mouthpiece with an identical stainless steel insert. Mine is grooved for a cord ligature and is marked "Zinner". It doesn't play worth a damn.

Tony F.

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-11-04 19:45


Great job for tracking down that patent. O'Brien also held patents on the design and manufacture of crystal mouthpieces--which were his main claim to fame. But even with the patent, O'Brien surely was not the first to line the inside of a wood or rubber mouthpiece with metal. Albert Rice in "The Clarinet in the Classical Period" p. 218 says that in the 1800's, the famous clarinetist Hermstedt had a mouthpiece that "may have been black wood or ebony with [silver or other metal] side rails, tip, or table similar to modern inlaid mouthpieces." Before the development of rubber, wood was the preferred material for clarinet mouthpieces, especially in Germany, and metal inlays were used to give the lay and baffle of the mouthpiece some stability and protection from warping.

In the 20th century, the demand for inlaid mouthpieces does not ever seem to have been very high in the US. Frank Kaspar made a few; I believe David Glazer in New York played one of his. O'Brien advertised crystals, sold large numbers of them, which were widely available in retail music stores throughout the US, was contracted by many other companies to make crystal mouthpiece for them, and was also sought out as a mouthpiece tech who could do extensive refacing improvements on any mouthpiece and especially glass ones. He would even cater to unusual requests for custom made pieces. In an issue of The Clarinet from the 1950s, I believe, he wrote about catering to a player who wanted a glass mouthpiece that produced a "veiled" sound even though that made the piece hard to blow. Perhaps the metal inlay model was also produced to order for a small number of customers who wanted that feature.

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-05 10:41

If you want it measured completely feel free in sending it to me. I will then send you the information along with other mouthpieces for comparison from this era as well as the present. This includes the tip opening, the facing, the bore taper, the chamber/baffle measurements which no one on the planet can measure, and I can come within 2 times thinner than a human hair in accuracy. Then you will have a good idea if he copied this from someone or if this is truly a one of a kind mouthpiece. Who knows you may have a very old Henri Chedeville or a Charles Chedeville.

A lot of mouthpieces during the era were never stamped. Even Chedeville's. So often people would have a stamp made. Based on the pics, it is not a Chedeville blank, but maybe it is better.

If you want to send it off insure it for about $1000 USPS. I'll ship it back the same day. I've never seen one so we should respect it.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

Post Edited (2017-11-06 07:00)

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 Re: I think I found a rare mouthpiece? H. O'Brien, Indpls, Ind
Author: NOLA Ken 
Date:   2019-05-08 00:20

Resurrecting an old thread because it lists a number of companies O'Brien made crystal mouthpieces for -

I recently acquired a crystal mouthpiece that has "Woodwind" neatly etched in script on the top surface. (Very neatly, as if done by machine. Not like the rougher O'Brien tradename etching.) No other markings. It looks very much like the pictures I've seen of O'Brien mouthpieces. It has six flutes (3 on each side) and an unmarked brass endcap. Did The Woodwind Company ever market a crystal mouthpiece, and if so, who made it for them? If it was in fact the Woodwind Company, was it pre- or post-Leblanc acquisition of WWCo? If not The Woodwind Company, who else might have made it? I found one other post on this BB dated ten years ago by someone who had a similar mouthpiece, but no one seemed to respond with any information about it. Thanks in advance for any information anyone can offer.

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