The Besson MEHA Story
(Last updated on September 19, 2007; please email corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Besson Meha... a horn that people search for and that makers have tried to emulate. The Meha was originally named for the grand-daughter of Madame Besson. The information I've been able to gather shows that all of the types of Meha are sought-after, usually bringing Ebay results in the $400-1,000 range; fairly remarkable given the different types and the eras they cross. Of course condition is paramount. If you do find one, how do you know what you have? There are several different types/eras of "Besson Meha":
- French F. Besson Meha (1940s through late 1950s?)
- Kanstul F. Besson Meha (1980s)
- F. Besson Meha New Generation (Manufactured By Kanstul; current model in 2004)
French F. Besson Meha (1940s through late 1950s?)
The original French Mehas are classified in two eras - prewar and postwar. The prewar Mehas (approximately serial number 90,000 and prior) are considered more collectible, although both prewar and postwar are eagarly sought after from a playing perspective.
Dating a French Besson Meha can be a real crapshoot, given the poor recordkeeping that occurred during and after World War II. This is especially true of the later years, as there are reports of serial numbers up to 141,000, yet the only reference point we have is #92,000 in 1947 (and who knows how accurate that data point is?):
Serial Numbers / Year of Manufacture 001-10000 / 1869-74 10001-14000 / 1874-76 14001-24143 / 1876-79 24144-26000 / 1879-82 26001-30000 / 1882-84 30001-36000 / 1884-87 36001-40000 / 1887-89 40001-50000 / 1889-94 50001-68000 / 1894-1901 68001-69000 / 1901-05 69001-70000 / 1905-06 70001-77500 / 1906-11 77501-82000 / 1911-20 82001-87000 / 1920-34 87001-92000 / 1934-47
There were apparently three different models:
- "Brevete" Meha
- Meha without the Brevete designation
- Brevete without the Meha designation
All three had in common the forward-thrown second valve slide.
Example 1 (Brevete Meha)
S/N #104,493. Sold for $766 on Apr. 5, 2004
Example 2 (non-Brevete Meha)
S/N #94,837. Sold on Apr. 13, 2004 for $970.00. Note the reversed third-valve slide with the underslung finger ring (nonstandard aftermarket modification?).
Example 3 (non-Brevete Meha, Gold plate)
S/N #101,604. Sold for $1,175.00 on Apr. 12, 2004. Note the difference in vertical space between the lines of "FABRICATION FRANCAISE" and "PERFECTIONNEE" compared to the horn above.
Example 4 (non-Brevete Meha)
S/N #101,xxx. Sold for $750.00 on April 10, 2004.
Example 5 (non-Meha Brevete)
S/N #101,259. Sold for $550 in January 2004
Kanstul Besson Meha (1980s)
This is a closer copy of the original French Besson Meha than the "New Generation" Meha which was to follow (see below). Manufactured in the 1980s by Kanstul, serial numbers are usually 4-5 digits (4000-15000). It is also a large-bore horn.
Example 6 (need better picture of logo)
S/N #4355. Sold for $900.00 on April 19, 2004.
F. Besson Meha New Generation (by Kanstul)
Finding information about the current version of the Meha is difficult; there doesn't appear to currently be a web site for Boosey (the company that now owns the Besson name). I believe this horn is manufactured by Kanstul. It appears to be a different horn from either the original French Besson Meha or the 1980s Kanstul Meha. It is a .462 bore instead of .470. Looking at the pictures of the horn, note that while it still features a forward-thrown second valve slide, it has a rectangular tuning crook instead of round, and two braces rather than one. Logos are extremely similar, but note "Paris * France" rather than "Paris".
This Meha is also referred to as model 62MB (I've seen models 62MB-1 and 62MB-2; I'm assuming they are different configurations).
Taken from promotional text at "The Music Store, Inc.":
Meha Series is one of the oldest styles of trumpets on the market. What happened when we combined our classic Meha valve section with a Najoom(r) leadpipe? A whole new generation of classic Meha sound was created. The long and distinguished history of the Meha trumpet continues with the French Besson "Meha New Generation" trumpet. An excellent jazz/lead trumpet, the Meha has just the right "feel" and easily locks in on the extreme high register. A new bore and bell flare gives this trumpet the free-blowing characteristic and "sizzle" needed by lead players, yet can be dark and warm for soft, ballad passages. Besson - You've found your horn. SPECS: Key of Bb: .462 Bore: Center-Sprung Monel Pistons: 4 7/8" One Piece Bell Diameter: .020" Bell Thickness: 2-Piece Valve Casings: Silver Finish: Weight 2.16 Pounds: Durable Metal Valve Guides: Soldered Bell Bead For Increased Projection: Traditional Water Keys. Available in lacquer finish for $1160.00 ($1240 in sliver).
Example 7 (New Generation Meha)
(pictures courtesy of Tulsa Band Instruments)