Biography

History
Son of Joseph Augustin LABERTE and Barbe Thérèse BOUCAUD, Pierre Joseph Augustin LABERTE, the instrument dealer, married Rose HUMBERT in 1845.

Among the three children born from this union were two boys: Pierre Alexis Auguste LABERTE and his brother Maurice Emile LABERTE. In 1876, the LABERTE brothers joined together to establish the firm LABERTE-HUMBERT Frères.

As early as 1911, Marc LABERTE, son of Pierre Alexis Auguste, began to play an active role in the company.

Marc LABERTE was without a doubt trained as a violin maker. At his impulse the firm LABERTE-HUMBERT Frères developed a production of high quality instruments alongside its "workshop-like" production. As a sign of legacy instruments bearing the label LABERTE HUMBERT, with or without the round stamp that reads LH, are always of the highest standard. Those bearing the label Marc LABERTE, with or without the reference to one of the instruments of his collection, are always made with careful attention to the choice of wood and craftsmanship. These best instruments were produced by a small team of skilled craftsman known as “l’Atelier des Artistes”. Joseph AUBRY, Charles BRUGERE, and Camille POIRSON, among many others, worked with this special team of violin makers.
Georges APPARUT, who  joined LABERTE-HUMBERT Frères toward the end of 1902 and who remained with the firm for 21 years,  was in charge of this “artistic” production.

In 1915 Marc LABERTE joined Fourier MAGNIÉ (1868-1946) and established the new firm under the name "LABERTE HUMBERT FRÈRES, FOURIER MAGNIÉ Réunis".  A  comprehensive catalogue, including the complete range of products and instruments in the lutherie field was published by the firm that same year.

In 1927, the firm continued its development by buying the well-known trademark "A La Ville de Cremonne” from Paul MANGENOT. One can find this mark stamped with its characteristic triangular shape on the inside back of many good Mirecourt violins of the 19th century.
Included in the deal was the use of names such as Honoré DERAZEY, Just DERAZEY, Paul MANGENOT, and Didier NICOLAS aîné, the last of whom was first to have used this trademark.
Soon thereafter in that same year, a new  catalogue including the recently acquired brands was published, this time under the name LABERTE & MAGNIÉ. It is interesting to note that this same catalogue includes two pages dedicated to the collection of antique Italian instruments belonging to Marc LABERTE and the “copies” available for purchase that were made after the originals. On these instruments, the label of "Marc LABERTE, Maître Luthier" appears beside a reproduction of the Italian maker's label.
In 1931, LABERTE received the Grand Prix for the STRADIVOX MAGNÉ, a phonograph, which was produced in different versions. These attempts at diversification were made to help the firm withstand the increasing competition and recession effects during that period.

Unfortunately, World War II had terrible effects on Mirecourt. The production of LABERTE ended completely, as the stock and production stools were stolen.

As early as 1944 the firm resumed its activity, but the production never reached the same levels as prior to the war and slowly, in the difficult economic context, the decline of LABERTE became unavoidable. 

Philippe LABERTE, Marc LABERTE’S son, joined the firm during this period and tried to maintain a production catered toward the high end of the market.

Marc LABERTE died in 1963, and in 1969 Philippe LABERTE died prematurely. The great firm definitively closed its doors at the end of 1969.


Labels & Stamps
Stamps and labels are not easy to trace through the production of LABERTE's workshop, as this company developed a “trademarks” policy early on, using a dozen of them over time.
What can be said, however, is that these labels came from four different main sources:
 
- Some of the labels are originals to the firm, created in relation to the  family history (i.e. LABERTE-HUMBERT. or  FOURIER-MAGNIE), or issued from the fertile imagination of the leaders of the firm ( i.e. COOLANTS, LE SPINALIEN, BOLERO).
- A second part of the labels came to LABERTE through the acquisition of other workshops (i.e. H DERAZEY, P MANGENOT).
- A third part of the labels comes from the common trunk of names used through years by the Mirecourt violin makers (i.e. BRETON or  MARQUIS de L’AIR)..
- Finally, a fourth part of the labels, in keeping with all the main Mirecourt firms, reference the model after which the instrument was made ( i.e. Copie de JB VUILLAUME).

“LABERTE-HUMBERT” certainly the most constant name and stamp used through years, has been used for the best instruments produced by the company. The label can be found alone, or with the letters LH  enclosed in a circle stamped to the inside back, on the opposite side of the label .

 
Production
LABERTE's production covered the entire range of instruments from the violin family in addition to bows, the instruments' accessories, strings, cases, and luthier tools as well as instruments from the mandolin family and their accessories and cases.
As far as the quality is concerned, the entire range of production stretched from factory-like instruments to the very best examples of craftsmanship with pieces made entirely by the "best hands" in the firm. Some of these "best hands" went on to become famous violin makers of their time (i.e. Charles BRUGÈRE).
After World War II, in a desperate attempt to survive through diversification, the firm began producing radios and resumed production under the brand name STRADIVOX.

 
Collaborators
Among many others, Georges APPARUT, Charles BAILLY, Charles BRUGÈRE, Claude FETIQUE, Eugène Vincent GENOD, Joseph Pierre HEL, Camille POIRSON, and Paul SERDET, either worked or were trained in the LABERTE workshop.

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