Here's good news for those of you with an old Kohlert clarinet! I haven't been able to find a good serial number chart, but I just came across a post (from the Clarinet BBoard) with this list of bell logos and corresponding eras:
Pre- WW 1 (1918): “V. Kohlert’s Söhne Graslitz”. The Bohemian border region belonged to the Austrian Empire. Most inhabitants, also the Graslitz instrument makers like Kohlert, Püchner, Keilwerth, and many others, were German
1918- 38: “V.Kohlert’s Söhne, Graslitz, Czecho-Slovakia”. The region was part of the new Czecho-Slovak Republic. According to New Langwill they were among the largest firms of WWI makers in Bohemia with workforce of 400 in 1929 and a 23- piece orchestra.
After Nazi Germany had, by the Munich treaty of 1938, taken over the German- Bohemian border region, it was: “Graslitz, Sudetengau”.
After WW 2, till about 1948, when the Germans (“Sudetendeutsche”) were expropriated and expelled by the Czechoslovak state: “V.Kohlerta Synobe Kraslice” . The former Kohlert workshops were then taken over by the state owned Amati company.
At Winnenden near Stuttgart, South Germany, they started their business again. The instruments were then stamped “Kohlert & Co. Winnenden” They had to give up, as far as I know, about 1980.
After years of refurbishing Penzel Mueller clarinets, I'm still amazed at the obscurity in which they linger! From a buying point of view, great: from a selling point of view, not so good. So, here's a little info to pique your interest in this unjustly forgotten brand.
The company was started by 2 German immigrants, Penzel and Mueller, in the early 1890's in Long Island City NY. They offered a variety of clarinets and flutes, as well as some saxes and brass which I suspect were made by someone else and stenciled with the PM logo. If someone can shed more light, please do! The company operated through the late 1950's (as best I can determine), before ceasing production.
Their clarinets (especially the Artist, Studio Recording, and Super Brilliante models) were top of the line horns, easily comparable to anything coming out of Europe during the period. Woody Herman played an Artist model, in fact. The tone was more 'American' than 'French' in concept - think Conn rather than Buffet - great for Jazz as well as concert music, free-blowing, more direct than sweet. Intonation is very good on most of the horns I've tried, and the key-work is comfortable unless you have very small hands: there's a bit of a spread, which is welcome for us large fingered folk!
A customer in Texas was kind enough to forward a model/price list from their 1955 catalog:
Super Brilliante $340
Artist, new model $265
Bel Canto $185
American Professional $165
Standard Model $129.50
The only one I've worked on that I don't see here is the 'Studio Recording' model, which was a pro horn that came with 3 barrels. Perhaps it had been discontinued by 1955? Anyway, I hope this is enough to get you to keep an eye out for one of the better PM's in good playing condition. Regardless of the style you play, I believe you'd enjoy it.
The Licorice Shtick Blog is the creation of the Vintage Clarinet Doctor, a Winston Salem, NC based woodwind instrument repair shop specializing in vintage and antique clarinets, saxophones, and the occasional flute.