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Basset Horn

1800 - 1825 (Made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The basset horn is a low-pitched reed instrument with a clarinet-like mouthpiece and trumpet-like bell, mostly used in Germany and Austria. Mozart composed parts for it, as did Mendelsohn, and Richard Strauss in more recent times.This instrument is stamped with a unicorn's head, the emblem of wind instruments sold at 79 Cornhill London, the premises of G. Miller, George Astor, and later George Gerocke.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Turned ebony mouthpiece, turned boxwood joints with ivory mounts, brass keys and bell
Brief Description
Basset Horn, box wood with ivory joints, brass covered bell, English, 1800 - 1825.
Physical Description
"Stamped with a unicorn's head on every joint. Angular form. Boxwood, in four joints, ivory mounted. The joints comprise: a carved barrel, on which is inserted an ebony mouthpiece; the upper joint; a short obtuse-angled knee-joint, the lower part of which is of triangular section and contains three parallel bores connected in series to make a continuous air passage. A brass cover-plate is screwed to both the upper and lower faces of this triangular 'box', the lower plate being cut with a circular hole coinciding with the outlet of the air passage, into which is inserted a brass shell of a flattened oval section and with a chased rim-band. On the box, a swivel ring for supporting the instrument on a sling. Eight square brass keys are mounted on raised rings in the wood. They include in addition to the basic five [keys], a fish-tailed low F key with the key-plate mounted on a brass saddle; and thumb keyes for low D and C." - Anthony Baines,Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), p. 101.
Dimensions
  • Tube including mouthpiece length: 98cm
Measurements taken from Anthony Baines:Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 101.
Marks and Inscriptions
Unicorn's head (stamped on all joints of the instrument)
Object history
This instrument formed part of the collections of Carl Engel, and was valued at £1 - 10 - 0, when acquired by the South Kensington Museum in 1882.
Production
The instrument is stamped with the sign of the unicorn, the sign used on all instruments emanating from 79 Cornhill London. Possibly George Astor or Gerock and Wolf?
Subject depicted
Summary
The basset horn is a low-pitched reed instrument with a clarinet-like mouthpiece and trumpet-like bell, mostly used in Germany and Austria. Mozart composed parts for it, as did Mendelsohn, and Richard Strauss in more recent times.This instrument is stamped with a unicorn's head, the emblem of wind instruments sold at 79 Cornhill London, the premises of G. Miller, George Astor, and later George Gerocke.
Bibliographic Reference
Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 101.
Collection
Accession Number
305-1882

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record createdJune 25, 2008
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