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E. Benge • Los Angeles • no. 6246 • 1968 (Prototype)

This is rare prototype, gold plated, documented as the very first Benge pocket trumpet made in 1968. Designed by Louis Duda (Eldon Benge’s “right hand man”), it was built for the late Irving Bush, a well-known professional trumpeter in Los Angeles for many years who also designed his own line of mouthpieces.  Mr. Bush took meticulous care of his instruments, and this pocket was no exception in spite of the fact that he was reported to have played it quite often, often taking it on trips. It is gold plated, and is in immaculate condition, including the original soft leather gig bag, which was made longer than the horn so it could accomodate a mute, place in the bell.

Along with the unique gold plating, note the smaller-than-usual bell diameter. In fact, It is the only Benge pocket trumpet made this way -- beginning with the very next example, all subsequent bells were standard diameter. It is interesting how much smaller the entire trumpet seems to be as a result of this smaller bell design, even though it’s the same as a standard Benge pocket in all other respects. Also noteworthy is the first slide thumb trigger lever.

These have enjoyed great popularity and stong reputation in the small world of pocket trumpets ever since. It is fair to say that the Benge pocket is the “gold standard” by which other professional pocket trumpets are measured. They were made by Benge in Burbank, then Los Angeles, and continue to be manufactured in the UMI factory in East Lake Ohio. 

Length (mpc removed): 9.5”

Bell Diameter: 3.875”

Bore: .460 ML

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1969 Benge advertisement.  This appeared within a year of the prototype being made. Note the presence of a pocket cornet in the listing. I have yet to hear of a single example. It’s also unclear to me if the Jubilee Line was intended to reach a lower price point than in the past.