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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentMouthpieces(Moderators: BGuttman, Doug Elliott) How to tell if a mouthpiece is solid silver?
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patrickosmith

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« on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:37AM »

I inherited a Schilke mouthpiece. It was probably made in the 1950's. Other than "SCHILKE" it has no markings.

I suspect it is solid silver. Is there a way to tell if it is solid silver?

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« Reply #1 on: Dec 13, 2017, 04:29AM »

Cut it in half and examine the interior.  Evil

Physics 101: Archimedes principle.

Get a lump of brass (or silver) of equal mass as the mcp, dunk them in water and measure their respective displacement. Silver has a density of 10-12 g/cm^3 (depending on purity); brass density is in the 8.4-8.9 g/cm^3 (depending on the formulation), so silver will displace more water per unit of mass than a lump of brass of equal mass. QED.
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 13, 2017, 05:20AM »

I inherited a Schilke mouthpiece. It was probably made in the 1950's. Other than "SCHILKE" it has no markings.

I suspect it is solid silver. Is there a way to tell if it is solid silver?



Why would you suspect this is made of solid silver? Was that a thing?
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 13, 2017, 05:23AM »

Why would you suspect this is made of solid silver? Was that a thing?

Yes. 
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 13, 2017, 05:43AM »

Why would you suspect this is made of solid silver? Was that a thing?
wouldn't that be a heavy and expensive item??
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:10AM »

wouldn't that be a heavy and expensive item??
-----

Almont mouthpieces, like Tommy Dorsey used are solid silver. They are heavier than brass but not by much. Silver warms up quickly on the chops too, which is kind of nice. Silver is more costly than brass but not outrageously so. I wish more mouthpiece makers would offer solid silver as an option. I like the Almont that I have.

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« Reply #6 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:16AM »

-----

Almont mouthpieces, like Tommy Dorsey used are solid silver. They are heavier than brass but not by much. Silver warms up quickly on the chops too, which is kind of nice. Silver is more costly than brass but not outrageously so. I wish more mouthpiece makers would offer solid silver as an option. I like the Almont that I have.

====

SCott, is yours one of TD's ?
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:43AM »

Seems to me that Yamaha offers solid silver mouthpieces in the most popular sizes. I also seem to recall that the price used to begin at $600 US +, years ago.
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 13, 2017, 07:59AM »

Cut it in half and examine the interior.  Evil

Physics 101: Archimedes principle.

Get a lump of brass (or silver) of equal mass as the mcp, dunk them in water and measure their respective displacement. Silver has a density of 10-12 g/cm^3 (depending on purity); brass density is in the 8.4-8.9 g/cm^3 (depending on the formulation), so silver will displace more water per unit of mass than a lump of brass of equal mass. QED.
Since silver has a higher density than brass it will actually displace less water per unit of mass.
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 13, 2017, 08:08AM »

Seems to me that Yamaha offers solid silver mouthpieces in the most popular sizes. I also seem to recall that the price used to begin at $600 US +, years ago.
----------

600 bucks seems like price gouging to me.

-----------
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 13, 2017, 08:09AM »

SCott, is yours one of TD's ?
======

No comment. Evil Truth be told......It's on loan to me from the one and only DJ Kennedy.

======
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 13, 2017, 08:38AM »

Why would you suspect this is made of solid silver? Was that a thing?

I'm not sure if it was a thing or not. I suspect it is solid silver because
this "SCHILKE" has no chips or peeling anywhere, and it has had daily/heavy use for over 60 years. Other mouthpieces I have show their wear on the very end of the shank where the plating is flaked away revealing the underlying metal of a different color (brass).

I don't know the whole story but I imagine it was given to Frank Crisafulli (at that time Principal Trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) by Reynold Schilke as his playing career turned to businessman (instrument and mouthpiece maker).
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 13, 2017, 09:11AM »

======

No comment. Evil Truth be told......It's on loan to me from the one and only DJ Kennedy.

======
r


Ahhh it's that one!!    How is it?
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 13, 2017, 09:29AM »

Most silver plate is 0.100" or less.  Best way to tell is to carve a notch a little deeper than that and examine the notch for the different metals.  If you go to sell it for scrap metal value, this is what they will do.  If you carve the notch carefully enough you can even measure plating thickness if it's plated.

If you don't want to carve the notch, you might be able to find "foreign" elements using a high penetration X-ray fluorescence machine.

If you have two nominally identical mouthpieces and one is silver and one not, the silver one will be heavier than the plated brass.  The weight difference can easily be overshadowed by the differences in different models.
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 13, 2017, 10:32AM »

Yes. 

Thanks for the explanation. Clears it up.
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:05PM »

r


Ahhh it's that one!!    How is it?
=====

It's very good, small, but very good. I imagine it's 12C-ish in size, perhaps a tad smaller. V-cup and very efficient. I'd play it all the time but it is too small for me, though I do enjoy playing it from time to time. I always leave it sitting out so I can just grab it and play it when the mood strikes me. A Stork T2 is probably the closest to it in overall shape, but of course, the T2 is closer to a 7C size-wise. The rim on the Stork is narrower, but surprisingly it feels very similar to the Almont, and has a similar blow and feel, albeit a larger volume of sound than the Almont. There is lineage; Almont-Giardinelli-Stork. The Giardinelli blank is nearly identical to the Almont.

-------
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:08PM »

A quick alternate way to see if something is silver is to take a silver mouthpiece and a non-silver mouthpiece and dunk everything except the throat in hot (not dangerously) water. Silver will heat up noticeably faster than brass, and you'll feel the transmission of heat through the mouthpiece change.

I first observed this while having the luck to eat a hot bowl of soup with a real silver spoon.
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:21PM »

A quick alternate way to see if something is silver is to take a silver mouthpiece and a non-silver mouthpiece and dunk everything except the throat in hot (not dangerously) water. Silver will heat up noticeably faster than brass, and you'll feel the transmission of heat through the mouthpiece change.

I first observed this while having the luck to eat a hot bowl of soup with a real silver spoon.
=====

Yup, that's one of the nice things about the Almont. It warms quickly on the chops.

-------
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:40PM »

I'm not sure if Yamaha still offers their sterling mouthpieces. Probably just very low sales for something that costs them a bit of money to make and sell. I looked them up a few months ago and could barely find any information- mostly only trumpet forum  Yeah, RIGHT. threads about them.

I wouldn't mind trying one, for sure.
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:42PM »

I is VERY expensive to even start working with solid silver.  I thought about it at one time but couldn't even consider it.
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« Reply #20 on: Dec 13, 2017, 04:21PM »

I is VERY expensive to even start working with solid silver.  I thought about it at one time but couldn't even consider it.
-------

There ya have it. Doug certainly knows.

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« Reply #21 on: Dec 14, 2017, 12:39AM »

=====

It's very good, small, but very good. I imagine it's 12C-ish in size, perhaps a tad smaller. V-cup and very efficient. I'd play it all the time but it is too small for me, though I do enjoy playing it from time to time. I always leave it sitting out so I can just grab it and play it when the mood strikes me. A Stork T2 is probably the closest to it in overall shape, but of course, the T2 is closer to a 7C size-wise. The rim on the Stork is narrower, but surprisingly it feels very similar to the Almont, and has a similar blow and feel, albeit a larger volume of sound than the Almont. There is lineage; Almont-Giardinelli-Stork. The Giardinelli blank is nearly identical to the Almont.

-------

Yes I understood Giardinelli bought Almont's tooling when he retired......  Also that TD would send his brass players to Almont's to have mouthpieces made.....
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« Reply #22 on: Dec 14, 2017, 03:19AM »

A quick alternate way to see if something is silver is to take a silver mouthpiece and a non-silver mouthpiece and dunk everything except the throat in hot (not dangerously) water. Silver will heat up noticeably faster than brass, and you'll feel the transmission of heat through the mouthpiece change.

I first observed this while having the luck to eat a hot bowl of soup with a real silver spoon.


Thanks for the tip! I might give that a try.
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« Reply #23 on: Dec 14, 2017, 05:27AM »

I is VERY expensive to even start working with solid silver.  I thought about it at one time but couldn't even consider it.

There are a couple of blogs out there where people decided to make silver bullets like the Lone Ranger used.

It turned out to be extremely difficult and they never got good results. 

It would seem like a bullet might be simple compared to a mouthpiece.  But maybe not, I've never tried either.
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« Reply #24 on: Dec 14, 2017, 05:45AM »

There are a couple of blogs out there where people decided to make silver bullets like the Lone Ranger used.

It turned out to be extremely difficult and they never got good results. 

It would seem like a bullet might be simple compared to a mouthpiece.  But maybe not, I've never tried either.

Bullets tend to be launched at much higher velocities than mouthpieces.
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« Reply #25 on: Dec 14, 2017, 06:29AM »

Bullets tend to be launched at much higher velocities than mouthpieces.

Unless you had a REALLY BAD practice session.  Evil
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« Reply #26 on: Dec 14, 2017, 07:57AM »

You talking about elemental silver, or sterling?
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« Reply #27 on: Dec 14, 2017, 09:46AM »

You talking about elemental silver, or sterling?

I'm just guessing --based on how well it has weathered with heavy usage for over 60 years-- that it is silver or silver alloy of some kind.

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« Reply #28 on: Dec 14, 2017, 10:40AM »

The most popular alloy of silver is Sterling, which has 7.5% copper (balance silver).  It's much harder than pure silver and wears better.  That's probably the reason King used it for the bells.  Probably machines easier as well.
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« Reply #29 on: Dec 14, 2017, 01:00PM »

Here's a series of articles about experiments casting silver bullets.

http://www.patriciabriggs.com/articles/silver/ranger/

It is interesting.  but it does not seem to have occurred to them to turn the bullets on a lathe instead of casting.  You can buy rifle bullets that are lathe turned out of solid copper, silver shouldn't be that much harder.

Probably more expensive though. 
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« Reply #30 on: Dec 14, 2017, 02:25PM »



I suspect it is solid silver. Is there a way to tell if it is solid silver?



Take it to a jewellers?
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« Reply #31 on: Dec 14, 2017, 02:35PM »

It is interesting.  but it does not seem to have occurred to them to turn the bullets on a lathe instead of casting.  You can buy rifle bullets that are lathe turned out of solid copper, silver shouldn't be that much harder.

Probably more expensive though.
Beyond the difficulty of procuring silver rod in the proper diameter, there would also be the issue of waste. You've making a lot of chips, and the only way you could recover any part of the cost would be to sell them as scrap.

Take it to a jewellers?
Where's the fun in that?
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« Reply #32 on: Dec 14, 2017, 03:32PM »

Here's a series of articles about experiments casting silver bullets.

http://www.patriciabriggs.com/articles/silver/ranger/

It is interesting.  but it does not seem to have occurred to them to turn the bullets on a lathe instead of casting.  You can buy rifle bullets that are lathe turned out of solid copper, silver shouldn't be that much harder.

Probably more expensive though. 

Cast blanks using lost wax. Use a lathe for secondary operations such as cleaning up the rim and shank, and getting the innards the right shape. Easy peasy, assuming you are or have access to a MP geometry guru. Could even go into quasi-mass production, since casting a whole lot of wax forms is a piece of cake compared to trying to cast silver in a steel clamshell bullet mold meant for lead.

Coin silver might still be available as raw material for electrical contacts. Fat sterling wire is basic hobby-shop stock, I believe. ROI uncertain, commercial success not guaranteed...

If anything, I'd expect a solid silver mouthpiece to be cooler outdoors, since it would conduct heat away from the face a skosh quicker than brass. For marching at snowy football games, I had a clear plastic piece that was a lot more comfortable in that respect.
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« Reply #33 on: Dec 14, 2017, 04:52PM »

Silver is more costly than brass but not outrageously so.

As far as I know, silver is worth at the very least 100 times more than brass for the same volume.
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« Reply #34 on: Dec 14, 2017, 06:27PM »

I thought the idea of silver bullets was a romanticized idea that originated from before bullets needed tight tolerances. Black powder type guns.
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« Reply #35 on: Dec 15, 2017, 02:35AM »

I thought the idea of silver bullets was a romanticized idea that originated from before bullets needed tight tolerances. Black powder type guns.

They're also handy for dealing with an outbreak of Werewolves..

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SilverBullet
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« Reply #36 on: Dec 15, 2017, 05:05AM »

I thought the idea of silver bullets was a romanticized idea that originated from before bullets needed tight tolerances. Black powder type guns.

You're just a youngster.  Some of us grew up watching Lone Ranger on tv.

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« Reply #37 on: Dec 15, 2017, 05:37AM »

Weren't silver bullets part of the plot in "Die Freischutz"?

Oops, it's "Der Freischutz"
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« Reply #38 on: Dec 15, 2017, 05:54AM »

I thought it was the name of a Christmas song.
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« Reply #39 on: Dec 15, 2017, 06:00AM »

As far as I know, silver is worth at the very least 100 times more than brass for the same volume.

Yes silver is way more expensive than brass but it is still a reasonable cost in comparison to gold.

Current Gold and Silver Prices
Gold   $1,255.75
Silver   $16.09

A solid silver mouthpiece could still be had at a reasonable cost whereas solid gold would be out of the question for almost everybody.
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« Reply #40 on: Dec 15, 2017, 06:29AM »

If you could buy solid silver in bar form such as you need to make a mouthpiece (you can't), the material for one mouthpiece would cost at least $700.  Of course there would be quite a bit of waste from that but you can't really count that as much value.  All of the processes involved in minimizing waste by casting, etc, adds labor plus other materials and equipment which offsets any potential savings.

It's easy to look at the weight of a mouthpiece and calculate the price per ounce but that's only a tiny part of the cost of producing it.

If there was a market for $1000 mouthpieces I'd be doing it.
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« Reply #41 on: Dec 15, 2017, 06:38AM »

...

If there was a market for $1000 mouthpieces I'd be doing it.

I'd bet Dave Monette would be there first Evil
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« Reply #42 on: Dec 15, 2017, 06:39AM »

Sterling silver or coin silver is always supposed to have a mark on it identifying it as such. It could be just really thick plating.
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« Reply #43 on: Dec 15, 2017, 07:05AM »

Sterling silver or coin silver is always supposed to have a mark on it identifying it as such. It could be just really thick plating.

I don't think this is always the case. You won't see an ugly stamped on a nice piece of jewelry, especially if it's small.
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« Reply #44 on: Dec 15, 2017, 07:30AM »

Method to determine density of a mouthpiece.

Weight the mouthpiece to the nearest gram. (M)

Get a standard 500ml graduated cylinder.  Fill with 250ml of water (L1).  Carefully place the mouthpiece into the graduated cylinder and record the new level (L2).

Determine the volume of the MP in ml (V = L2-L1).  You will likely only be within +/- 2.5ml, but this will be close enough.

Determine the density of the MP (D = M/V)

If D is between 10.2 and 10.5 your mouthpiece is likely of some form of silver.

If D is between 8.3 and 8.9 your mouthpiece is likely of brass.
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« Reply #45 on: Dec 15, 2017, 07:37AM »

I don't think this is always the case. You won't see an ugly stamped on a nice piece of jewelry, especially if it's small.

I am used to seeing 925 stamped on fairly small findings. At one flea market I met a fellow selling built-up silver beads and trinkets from south Asia, none of them stamped. I had no reason to doubt the percentages he claimed, based on his own testing. Most of his stuff seemed to be in the low to mid 90s as far as percentage of silver went.
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« Reply #46 on: Dec 15, 2017, 07:38AM »

Traditionally all silver jewelry and tableware are marked with the silversmith's hallmark. Often "Sterling Silver" or ".925 Fine" ,"925" will be on the back or other hidden place. This is a statement of authenticity.

Silver plate usually lacks any such mark.

If I was making a solid sterling silver mouthpiece for TD I would certainly sign my work, even if it was a prototype. 
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« Reply #47 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:11AM »

Traditionally all silver jewelry and tableware are marked with the silversmith's hallmark. Often "Sterling Silver" or ".925 Fine" ,"925" will be on the back or other hidden place. This is a statement of authenticity.

Silver plate usually lacks any such mark.

If I was making a solid sterling silver mouthpiece for TD I would certainly sign my work, even if it was a prototype. 

I don't think that in 1955, or thereabouts, Mr. Reynold Schilke would have concerned himself with marking this particular mouthpiece with "925," "Sterling silver" or anything the like.

Other that the marking "SCHILKE" there isn't anything on it (not even a size). It appears to be somewhere between a 51D and a 51C.
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« Reply #48 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:17AM »

Method to determine density of a mouthpiece.

Weight the mouthpiece to the nearest gram. (M)

Get a standard 500ml graduated cylinder.  Fill with 250ml of water (L1).  Carefully place the mouthpiece into the graduated cylinder and record the new level (L2).

Determine the volume of the MP in ml (V = L2-L1).  You will likely only be within +/- 2.5ml, but this will be close enough.

Determine the density of the MP (D = M/V)

If D is between 10.2 and 10.5 your mouthpiece is likely of some form of silver.

If D is between 8.3 and 8.9 your mouthpiece is likely of brass.

Thanks. I might check into this at my workplace where the required equipment might be available.
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« Reply #49 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:36AM »

Method to determine density of a mouthpiece.

Weight the mouthpiece to the nearest gram. (M)

Get a standard 500ml graduated cylinder.  Fill with 250ml of water (L1).  Carefully place the mouthpiece into the graduated cylinder and record the new level (L2).

Determine the volume of the MP in ml (V = L2-L1).  You will likely only be within +/- 2.5ml, but this will be close enough.

Determine the density of the MP (D = M/V)

If D is between 10.2 and 10.5 your mouthpiece is likely of some form of silver.

If D is between 8.3 and 8.9 your mouthpiece is likely of brass.

Then again if it floats, you've also ruled out silver.

And brass.

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« Reply #50 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:48AM »

Then again if it floats, you've also ruled out silver.

And brass.



So its made of wood. And therefor a duck. Or a witch.
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« Reply #51 on: Dec 15, 2017, 08:54AM »

No. It's only if the mouthpiece weighs the same as a duck. Then it's made of wood. No water required. It's all about condensity, man.
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« Reply #52 on: Dec 15, 2017, 09:04AM »

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks, it's a mouthpiece.
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« Reply #53 on: Dec 15, 2017, 09:07AM »

If it quacks, it's probably a mouthpiece for a saxophone or bassoon. :-P
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« Reply #54 on: Dec 15, 2017, 09:39AM »

I don't think that in 1955, or thereabouts, Mr. Reynold Schilke would have concerned himself with marking this particular mouthpiece with "925," "Sterling silver" or anything the like.

Other that the marking "SCHILKE" there isn't anything on it (not even a size). It appears to be somewhere between a 51D and a 51C.

Even in starting with the latter half of the 19th century, american sterling pieces are always marked as such. He would have had the stamps -- why wouldn't he have stamped at least STR or something like that on it? Apply Occam's Razor.
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« Reply #55 on: Dec 15, 2017, 11:38AM »

Friends,
I have two Al Almont mouthpieces.
One is clearly marked with the Sterling
Silver stamp, one is not.
I've tried many copies of Almont mouthpieces
that weren't made from SS. Unfortunately they don't
really measure up. 
The other thing I've noticed is that some manufactures of the
clones often "tweek" the mouthpiece in an misguided attempt to
improve it.  They don't need improving in my opinion.

Truly,
Dean Hubbard.
Artist Clinician for Getzen Trombones.
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« Reply #56 on: Dec 15, 2017, 02:02PM »

Friends,
I have two Al Almont mouthpieces.
One is clearly marked with the Sterling
Silver stamp, one is not.
I've tried many copies of Almont mouthpieces
that weren't made from SS. Unfortunately they don't
really measure up. 
The other thing I've noticed is that some manufactures of the
clones often "tweek" the mouthpiece in an misguided attempt to
improve it.  They don't need improving in my opinion.

Truly,
Dean Hubbard.
Artist Clinician for Getzen Trombones.

========

Good information. Are yours both in the 12C range?

The one I am in possession of has no markings of any kind. I had local mouthpiece maker Karl Hammond take a look at it and he said, "I'm surprised it plays as well as it does". I asked why and he said, "the backbore is a real mess". It definitely plays. It's a very good mouthpiece, better than most, in fact.

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« Reply #57 on: Dec 15, 2017, 02:07PM »

I'd bet Dave Monette would be there first Evil
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Good one!!

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« Reply #58 on: Dec 15, 2017, 02:08PM »

Yes I understood Giardinelli bought Almont's tooling when he retired......  Also that TD would send his brass players to Almont's to have mouthpieces made.....
-----

And John Stork worked at Giardinelli.

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« Reply #59 on: Dec 15, 2017, 03:37PM »

Just for curiosity, I had to do some rough calculation on a solid silver MP. To tell if you have one, a solid silver should weigh about 1.2x as much as brass...

Assume a 5.6 oz brass trombone mouthpiece. That = 1.15 cubic inches of material. (Brass = 4.86 ounces per CI.)

1.15 cubic inches of silver = 6.36 troy ounces.
A solid silver mouthpiece would have ~$120 melt value.

1.15 cubic inches of gold = 11.68 ounces (that's a HEAVY mouthpiece!).
<~$15,000 in raw material.
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« Reply #60 on: Dec 15, 2017, 04:29PM »

Note that silver and gold are measured in troy ounces, about 31 grams each.  Brass and copper are measured in avoirdupois ounces at about 28 grams each.

I've always preferred to work in metric units for dealing in precious metals to avoid confusion between avoirdupois and troy weights.
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« Reply #61 on: Dec 15, 2017, 04:39PM »

Note that silver and gold are measured in troy ounces, about 31 grams each.  Brass and copper are measured in avoirdupois ounces at about 28 grams each.

I've always preferred to work in metric units for dealing in precious metals to avoid confusion between avoirdupois and troy weights.
Yeah.  It's best to use metric units.  Imperial units seem to change like diapers.
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« Reply #62 on: Dec 15, 2017, 07:29PM »

Yeah.  It's best to use metric units.  Imperial units seem to change like diapers.

Yup.  Imperial Gallons are not like the ones here in the US.
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« Reply #63 on: Dec 16, 2017, 05:36AM »

Quick (without google) -

How many square furlongs in a hide?
How may shackles in a cable?
How many scruples in an apothecaries pound?
How many gills in a puncheon?
How many slugs in a blob?
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« Reply #64 on: Dec 16, 2017, 09:29AM »

OK.  What's the gravitational constant in foot-slugs/fortnight2?
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« Reply #65 on: Dec 16, 2017, 10:08AM »

Probably has to do with the ancient, honorable term of venery: a laceration of swarf.
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« Reply #66 on: Dec 16, 2017, 10:25AM »

OK.  What's the gravitational constant in foot-slugs/fortnight2?
Isn't that feet3slug-1fortnight-2?

In which case it would be just about 2.2114 x 10-20 feet3slug-1fortnight-2
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« Reply #67 on: Dec 16, 2017, 06:36PM »

Solid silver mouthpieces?  I honestly didn't know they were (or currently) a thing... Don't know
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« Reply #68 on: Dec 16, 2017, 06:56PM »

Solid silver mouthpieces?  I honestly didn't know they were (or currently) a thing... Don't know

Not currently.  There were solid silver mouthpieces made in the past.  Generally custom.
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« Reply #69 on: Dec 17, 2017, 09:53AM »

Yamaha will make them too.
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