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This is a G. Leblanc, Paris, BBb Curved Contrabass clarinet, in metal, range to low C. This model is commonly known as the "paperclip". The instrument is a commission sale for C D, and it has had one extremely successful London professional player from new. The provenance of this instrument, which was originally to low D, and only the third BBb Contra ever to reach the UK, is truly unique and outstanding. This is probably the finest Leblanc low C contra in the world today, and it is to be hoped that its new owner will have as much success with it as its one former owner.
Paul Harvey was the original owner and much of what follows in this description is taken from the notes and published articles sold with this unique contra. Paul had been booked to play contra in the Abbey Road Studio sessions for the Disney film "Dragonslayer" scored by Alex North, who sent word that he was writing for Bb contrabass down to low C. Paul did not want to buy one of the new Leblanc Contras because of the much larger case, whereas his instrument fits into a case the size of an alto Sax. Therefore he took it upon himself to design a detachable low C extension. He crept into Bill Lewington's [in those days the Leblanc main dealer in Central London] with a vacuum cleaner extension tube concealed under his coat. Furtively he held it against the latest Leblanc design and marked where the two lowest Db and C holes came. The tube for the low notes points upward so he decided to have two keys on the extension to press with the base of the left thumb: a Db and a C which closes both, see photos 9 & 10. The design was made by Peter Snowden, Paul's instrument technician, of many years, and works brilliantly.
Paul Harvey went on to play this contra in numerous film sound tracks and other professional engagements. A full list of the screen credits are included in the sale. Here are a few highlights: The Beatles, film Yellow Submarine, and Sgt. Pepper album. Films: Grizzly, The Boys From Brazil, Rambo [First Blood], Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Outland. With the low C extension: Supergirl, Santa Claus the Movie, Highlander, Shanghai Surprise, Licence to Kill [James Bond],and many more.
This instrument is in excellent condition, with no dents or damage. It was manufactured as Leblanc's top of the range professional model. The body is Nickel Silver, and shows a fine finish, with no wear. The pads are all by Gordon Beeson, in tan leather, in excellent condition. The Nickel plated keywork is in superb condition throughout. The matching serial nos. on all pieces are 806, which dates to 1960's. Included in the sale are: 1. A custom made extension to low C, by Pete Snowden which is housed in a separate box. 2. A stand which allows the player to perform on the instrument readily and is much superior to the original Leblanc spike. Pete Snowden also fitted a second strut to the main body of the Leblanc contra. This has two main advantages: It reinforces the main body of the instrument which results in fewer regulation problems, and it is also the strut which slots into the custom designed stand. 3. In addition there are 3 further Leblanc m'pieces also in very good condition, and a large selection of reeds, including a "Legere". Peter Snowden also redesigned the screw which attachs the two main body parts of the contra together, so that it screws directly from one pillar in the upper joint down into a pillar in the lower. This is much superior to the original Leblanc design. The mouthpiece, is a Leblanc No.2, in very good condition. The original case is also in good used condition, the latches are all sound, and the interior lining shows only slight stains. This instrument is the finest playing paperclip BBb contra that Clarinets Direct has handled, to date!