Looking for pics? Check out the Maurice Boiste Gallery on Bassic Sax Pix.
Maurice Boiste was a French saxophone maker in the early part of the 20th century. His rather obscure horns are somewhat of an enigma, and misinformation about the brand is easy to come by.
What they are, and what they are not.
Unfortunately, Maurice Boiste horns were mistakenly identified as Pierret Super 8 stencil saxophones on Saxpics. Because that page is still up–USA Horn bought the site a few years ago and has not updated it–this misinformation is still being perpetuated over the ‘Net, and English sites are often filled with references to these horns being Pierret stencils, citing Saxpics as the source of the horns’ pedigree.
So let’s clear this up for the record: Maurice Boiste saxophones were NOT Pierret stencil horns. They were built by Maurice Boiste in his shop near or in Paris, France.
How do I know that I am right, and that the information on Saxpics is incorrect? Well for one thing, we have the benefit of more research available to us than Pete Hales had when he first looked at the horns.
While there is scant info available on English sites, there is a little more (and I do mean little) available on European sites. However, while the info on the European sites might also be limited in quantity, it is quite compelling.
There are two websites that really help us understand more about the origins of these Maurice Boiste saxophones. The first is the French saxophone forum Le Saxophone. In a thread where a fellow was asking about his Maurice Boiste horn, a woman by the name of Frédérique chimed in with the following response:
Je découvre par hasard votre message….je suis la petite nièce de Maurice BOISTE………qui a commencé apprenti chez DOLNET…….pour devenir l’associé du patron SIBOIS – Ils se sont séparés……..M.SIBOIS a conservé les bois et M. BOISTE a gardé les cuivres sous le nom de “Manufacture d’instruments de musique avec une spécialité pour les saxophones”………Excellente marque à l’époque ! Mon grand oncle avait des doigts en or “dixit mon père” puisqu’il a fait fortune lorsque le jazz “a explosé”………il a même fabriqué un saxophone en argent massif recouvert d’or……..Si vous souhaitez plus d’informations, je vous communique le numéro de tel de mon père (avec son accord) qui a les mêmes initiales…….Michel BOISTE xx-xx-xx-xx-xx (agé de 78 ans) et qui s’est régalé de me donner les informations que je viens de vous communiquer – Mais peut être avez vous déjà fait l’acquisition de ce saxo !
Cordialement – Frédérique
For the following translation of Frédérique’s response, I’m relying on both Google, as well as a translation of the text that I found on a German saxophone forum. The fellow who translated it said his French was a bit rusty. (Any clarifications for the above would be appreciated. Just drop me a note with your suggestions.)
I chanced upon your message …. I am the grand niece of Maurice Boiste ……… Who began his apprentice with Dolnet ……. to become the partner of boss Sibois – they separated …….. M.SIBOIS kept the wooden instrument division, and Mr. Boiste kept the brass instruments under the name of “Manufacture d’instruments de musique avec une spécialité pour les saxophones” (Manufacture of musical instruments with a specialty for saxophones) …… Excellent brand at the time! My great uncle had a golden touch “so said my father” because he made a fortune when jazz “exploded” ……… he even made a sterling silver saxophone coated with gold .. ……
Sincerely – Frédérique
In addition to Frédérique’s post on Le Saxophone, I found this interesting blog post on Luthier Vents. (Another site written in French.) Most of the post deals with the history of the Boiste family, and concludes with a few photos of Maurice Boiste saxophones. From the pics in the article it is apparent that not all of his horns had the fancy clothes guard we associate with Maurice Boiste saxophones. This is illustrated by the following Série Artiste alto….
What a real Super 8 looks like.
Speaking of Pierret Super 8 saxophones, we should put this rumour to bed once and for all. In March 2011, on the French blog Luthier Vents, the author posted a very interesting article about Pierret saxophones. Included in this article is a 1938 brochure on the Super 8. You can clearly see that the Maurice Boiste saxophone, and the Super 8, are not the same horn.
The Pierret clearly has the left pinkie cluster that we are familiar with from other Pierret models such as the Artiste, Modele 42, and the Super Artiste. The Maurice Boiste does not have the same shape of left pinkie cluster.
Note that the bell keys of the Pierret are on the right side of the horn, while the Boiste’s may be on the left or on the right—plus it often has that funky clothes guard that the Pierret does not have. The Pierret also has a different key configuration than the Boiste with regards to the trill and extra keys.
A visual sampling of Maurice Boiste bell keys
What about that funky clothes guard thingy?
While we’re on the subject of funky guards… Kim Slava, AKA Doctor Sax, has a Pierret Modele 7 on his website that is a bit odd. It has a funky key guard for the left-sided bell keys that bears a slight resemblance to the clothes guard of the Maurice Boiste. This could add some confusion to the Boiste-stencilled-by-Pierret debate.
Saxpics does, however, have a Modele 7 with conventional cage wire key guards for the left-sided bell keys on the only Modele 7 in its Pierret Gallery. This leads me to wonder if the funky guard on alto shown doctorsax.biz wasn’t either a one-of, or added by someone after market. Whichever the case, this one example of a strange Modele 7 doesn’t change the fact that Maurice Boiste saxophones were NOT Pierret stencils. (Have I said that often enough yet?)
When is a Maurice Boiste not a Boiste?
OK, I admit it. This really was a trick question. The answer is: When it was a horn that Maurice Boiste stencilled for someone else.
We’ve already seen the P. Deslaurier tenor from Saxpics that was made by Maurice Boiste. But we know from the Paul Beuscher alto that I’ve used for illustration purposes at the top of this page, that Boiste made horns for that company as well. To date these are the only two companies that I have seen Boiste stencils of. That’s not to say there aren’t more out there, I just likely haven’t seen them yet.
Although I don’t have many Maurice Boiste horns in my Bassic Sax Pix gallery at the moment, I hope to, in time, find a few more examples. If you have a Maurice Boiste saxophone bearing either his name, or a stencil name, I would really like to hear from you. If you’d like to see your photos included in Bassic Sax Pix, even better!