F. Besson ”Exigu” Bb • London • no. 23625 • 1885
Here is the rare Besson “Exigu” which was the smallest of the Besson pocket cornets. While evidently intended to play in Bb (high pitch), the valve slides are “C” length, and must be pulled appropriately to play in Bb. While it’s possible it had a “C attachment” originally, there is no evidence of this in the case. It has been known that Besson made Eb versions of this design, but only recenly has an example come to light in a museum!
This cornet is serial 23625. Amazingly, no. 23624, another Exigu, survives in the former Fiske Museum collection (recently sold).
The rare original “slimline” case has a metal plate which reads:
Note that the case is designed to hold the cornet assembled with shank and mouthpiece in place, which is very unusual.
The cornet features tasteful decorative engaving on nearly all surfaces, and is silver plated with gold trim. Photos showing how it arrived, as well as post-restoration in my shop, are shown.
Length (shank removed): 7.25”
Bell Diameter: 2.875”