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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Need information about the different Mehas in the General forums; Trying to find out information on Besson Mehas is, well... "interesting". There doesn't appear to be a definitive website on ...
  1. #1
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    Need information about the different Mehas

    Trying to find out information on Besson Mehas is, well... "interesting". There doesn't appear to be a definitive website on this either, so I'm trying to compile information (also because I just bought one on Ebay) but more on that later.

    From what I've been able to find digging around, there appear to be 4 categories of Mehas:

    1. French Besson Meha (pre-WWII, serials up to ~92,000)
    2. French Besson Meha (post-WWII, 92,000-???)
    3. Kanstul-made Meha (1980s?, serials 3 or 4 digits)
    4. Boosey "New Generation" Meha (current, serials?)


    Any serial number lists for "Besson" found online are for the British Besson, not the French.

    The consensus seems to be that the serial number cutoff for "prewar" Meha was approximately 92,000.

    The one I purchased was 101xxx; late 1940s maybe? Early 1950s?

    Is there major difference in quality between prewar and postwar Mehas? I've read that there may be some difference in the valves between prewar and postwar?

    The prewar Mehas are referred to as the most collectible, but I've not read anything negative about *any* of the Meha categories, other than some references that the Kanstul-made Mehas, while excellent, are not quite as good as the originals.

    The original Mehas are referred to as "large bore", but there are also multiple references online about "Paris" = .470, and "Paris-France" = .460, but I cannot find if that is referring to the Kanstul Mehas or the original Mehas. Can anyone clarify?

    Here is the one I took a shot on:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=3717316119

    and another one of approximately the same vintage still going, but at a higher price (has original case though):

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=3715700492

    and one with no bids:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=3715887006

    The usenet posts I've found referring to "original" Mehas refer to them in glowing terms regardless of whether they are prewar or postwar.

    Any reviews and/or anecdotal information is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    -Dan

  2. #2
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    There is a serial number dating list on the brass bow that seems to have some merit:http://www.thebrassbow.com/Serial.html This corroborates the 92000 number delineating post-war vs. pre-war.

    During the war, so I'm told, the Nazis looted many factories for metal to be used for munitions, so some mandrels and other important tooling was lost. When France was invaded some parts were smuggled out and the horns were finished in England, and after the war many English parts were used to start up production, so the problem with post-war horns is that it's impossible to tell if they are really French or English Bessons; not to mention the fact that raw metals weren't very easy to get ahold of, and a lot of Besson's key craftsmen had either been killed or they had emigrated.

    According to Larry Gianni, the pre-war F. Besson Mehas were all medium-large bore trumpets (.460), and the large-bore horns (.470) only appeared after the war. This begs the question: what, then, was the difference between a pre-war Meha and a pre-war Breveté? "Breveté" simply means "patented" in french; one would think that would apply to all of their instruments.

    When Zig Kanstul won the contract to manufacture the F. Besson Meha for the Boosey & Hawkes Company in the early 1980's, which owned the Besson name, he acquired a number of pre- and post-war Mehas and Brevetés from Hal Oringer to study and duplicate. My understanding is that the trumpets are quite accurate; after all, Kanstul had been manufacturing Benges for years, which were pretty accurate Besson copies to begin with. Zig has an interesting collection of mandrels, not just from the Olds plant and from Benge, but some say from the Besson factory as well. There were two models of Kanstul/Besson Mehas: the horns marked "Paris-France" on the bell were .460 bore, and the horns marked "Paris" were .470 bore. Kanstul made a Breveté as well, but I don't know much about those.

    I'm not absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure that Boosey & Hawkes (now "The Music Group") stopped renewing Kanstul's contract, and had an Indian manufacturer build the "New Generation Meha". Now, apparently, they are just unloading their inventory and will pretty much be out of the brass manufacturing business when it's gone.

    That's all I know, and it's dubious, at best. How do you like your post-war Meha? Have you had a chance to compare it to any of the other Bessons?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the information. I only won the Meha last night on Ebay, so I don't have it yet...

    -Dan

  4. #4
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    I've put the first draft of a Meha reference page online; looking for corrections and additions, especially serial ranges that the various Meha incarnations may have comprised.

    http://www.vintagetrumpets.com/meha.shtml

    Thanks,

    -Dan

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