Flutes at the 1851 Exhibition


For students of flute history (and indeed of the history of many other musical instruments), the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, England, stands as an event of great significance. The Exhibition took place at a particular point in time when the future of the flute as a practical musical instrument was being hotly debated in design terms and the instrument was available in perhaps the greatest number of distinct design manifestations of any single instrument in musical history. 

It is very difficult for us today to grasp the fact that there was no such thing as a "standard flute" at the time.  The old 8-key or “ordinary” flute was then still in widespread use – indeed, it was probably still the most widely-used version of the flute among amateur players.  However, beginning in 1832, Theobald Boehm had demonstrated beyond further argument that it was not necessary for flautists to continue meekly to accept the well-documented deficiencies in the intonation and relative tonality of that instrument. The gains that Boehm had achieved through his successive designs were widely recognized, but his views on the best manner of resolving those difficulties were by no means universally shared.  Consequently a number of talented individuals with an inquiring turn of mind had applied themselves to the task of developing design alternatives towards the  further advance of the flute as a practical musical instrument.  

The result of this activity was that by 1851 there were quite distinct competing designs by such figures as Boehm, Abel Siccama, Richard Carte, John Clinton, William Card, Cornelius Ward, Jean-Louis Tulou and others.  The downside of this situation was the fact that the majority of these designs had their own specific fingering systems, and the resulting confusion among aspiring amateur flautists and their teachers had by 1851 resulted quite predictably in a sharp decrease in the number of people wishing to take up the instrument.  The logic of this was obvious -  the market confusion then prevailing was such that aspiring flautists had no idea which version of the flute they should adopt and hence chose instead to take up other more clearly-defined instruments!  Small blame to them for doing so. 

The plight of teachers was equally unhappy – they either had to commit themselves to a single manifestation of the flute and hope that enough prospective pupils would take up that version of the instrument, or they had to apply themselves to learning a number of completely distinct systems of fingering.  Either way, the situation was not to their advantage.

At the time of the Exhibition, this unhappy situation had become obvious to all who really thought hard about the future of the instrument or had a financial stake in it, and a return to some kind of standardised fingering was widely seen as being highly desirable.  The question was - what form should this take?  This issue provided the context for the flute exhibits in London in 1851, when the debate was reaching its climax.

There was general agreement among serious flautists that the day of the old 8-key flute was done – Theobald Boehm had clearly demonstrated that fact. The path forward would undoubtedly incorporate the acoustical advantages which Boehm had secured through the innovative hole sizing and arrangement embodied in his successive designs, the more recent of which had been on the market for four years by the time of the Exhibition. The remaining questions requiring resolution were the choice of bore – cylindrical a la Boehm or conical as in the old 8-key flute – and the choice of a system of keys and associated fingering.

Broadly speaking, there were three main choices with respect to the system of keys - the open-keyed system designed by Theobald Boehm; the closed-key systems using the old 8-key fingering allied to certain elements of Boehm's design, as advocated by Abel Siccama and John Clinton; and the hybrid systems again using elements of Boehm's design but using a fingering system somewhere between Boehm's fingering and that of the old flute, as advocated by Richard Carte and William Card.  These systems of fingering could in theory be applied either to the old conical or the new cylinder bore. There were also a few "stand-alone" systems such as those developed by Cornelius Ward and Jean-Louis Tulou, but these never really made any headway as events proved. However, all of these systems were represented at the 1851 Exhibition alongside the old 8-key or “ordinary” flute, and that is what makes the event unique. 

History tells us that in the long term Boehm's open keyed system allied to his cylindrical bore swept all others from the field and became the standard concert flute in use worldwide. The old 8-key flute has made a come-back in recent years as a result of the worldwide renaissance in Celtic music and historical performance, but the Boehm flute remains the mainstream orchestral standard.   

However, this outcome was far from clear in 1851, when the flutemakers of the world met in London to exhibit their competing designs side by side for all the world to judge. No less than twenty-five exhibitors displayed flutes of various descriptions, and all of the then-current competing design variants were represented.  It must have been a fascinating event for anyone interested in the flute, and it is the hope of the present authors one day to attempt at least a partial re-enactment of  the event to give present-day flute aficionados the opportunity to share the experience with their distant fore-runners. 

In order to do this, we will have to acquire or at least locate playable examples of as many as possible of the flutes which were entered. As a starting point, we have consulted the official record of the 1851 Exhibition and have prepared the following list of exhibitors who displayed flutes either as the main focus of their exhibit or as part of a larger exhibit covering a broader range of products. The wording is exactly as presented in the official list of exhibitors and the awards gained are also noted.  We would be most grateful to hear from anyone who either owns, or is aware of the location of, a playable example of any of the listed instruments for which we do not show an accessible location. 

The Awards

Before setting out the list of flute exhibitors and the awards won by some of them, it seems worthwhile to briefly summarize the criteria for the various awards.  These were quite distinct, and an understanding of them is critical if a true appreciation of the basis upon which they were awarded to a given individual is to be gained.

Direct reference to the criteria with which the Jury was provided by the Exhibition organisers reveals that the Prize Medal was specifically to be conferred by the Jury upon exhibitors whose offerings displayed “a certain standard of excellence in production or workmanship”.  A vitally important point – there is no mention here of design innovation.  Recognition of that factor was reserved for the Council Medal, which was only to be awarded by the Council of Juries to those exhibitors whose offerings displayed “some important novelty of invention or application” and was specifically not to be awarded on the basis of “excellence of production or workmanship alone, however eminent".  The comment was actually made at the time that some winners of the Council Medal were far inferior in terms of workmanship to their less innovative brethren!

It is important to understand that the two Medals discussed above implied no relative merit whatsoever, as is often assumed  – they were in fact awarded for completely distinct  and often disassociated factors.  But in terms of creativity, the Council Medal undoubtedly represented the higher accolade. Some evidence of the relative implications of the two Medal categories may be gathered from the fact that, while 2,918 Prize Medals were awarded for excellence of execution, only 170 exhibitors were judged to have earned the Council Medal for innovation.  It would appear that there were then, as now, far fewer individuals with original ideas than there were people with skilled hands! 

There were no specific criteria for the award of an Honourable Mention.  This level of recognition was included to allow the Jury some flexibility in drawing attention to those exhibits which did not meet the rather specific criteria noted above for the two Medals but which the Jury nonetheless felt deserved to be more widely known and appreciated.

The Jury

So who made the decisions?  The Sub-Jury for Class Xa (Musical Instruments) comprised:

Sir H. R. Bishop, Chairman and Reporter, 13 Cambridge Street, Hyde Park; Professor of Music at Oxford. [who signed off on the Jury Report]

Sigsmund Thalberg, Deputy Chairman, Austria; Professor of Music  [piano specialist, and wrote the very lengthy portion of the Jury Report on pianos]

W. Sterndale Bennett, 15 Russell Place, Fitzroy Square; Professor at the Royal Academy of Music [as well as eminent composer and sometime conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra]

Hector Berlioz, France [eminent composer and flautist]

J. Robert Black, United States; Physician  [musical credentials obscure]

Chevalier Neukomm, Zollverein

Cipriani Potter, 9 Baker Street, Portman Square; Principal of Royal Academy of Music [and eminent composer, as well as being the grandson of the famous flutemaker Richard Potter by virtue of being the son of the elder Potter's flutemaking son Richard Huddleston Potter.  No relation to the entrant Henry Potter, though.]

Dr. Carl von Schafhautl, Zollverein; Professor of Geology, Mining and Metallurgy [and long-term personal friend and colleague of Theobald Boehm]

Sir George Smart, St. Anne's, Chertsey; organist and Composer of the Chapel Royal  

Henry Wylde, 65 Westbourne Terrace; Doctor of Music and Professor at the Royal Academy of Music.  [given these other activities it seems unlikely that this was the same Henry Wylde who had made flutes for Rudall & Rose and later branched out on his own in 1835]

Jury Associates: [who appear to have been assistants, gophers, "eyes and ears" or what have you but did not have a vote on the awards.  However, they may have had some influence in bringing various exhibits to the special notice of the Jury]

Rev. W. Cazalet, Tenterden Street, Hanover Square; Superintendent of the Royal Academy of Music

James Stewart, 22 Brecknock Crescent, Camden Town; Pianoforte Manufacturer [who did not exhibit in his own right]

William Telford, Dublin; Organ Builder [who also did not exhibit on his own account]

The List of Exhibitors

With the above criteria in mind, we can now review the list of the twenty-five flute exhibitors at the 1851 Exhibition.  Each entry takes the same format:

  • Name, place and description of exhibitor

  • Country or principality of origin

  • Description of exhibit(s), which may include instruments other than flute

  • Description of any awards granted by the Exhibition jury

all of the above being matters gleaned from the jury report, plus:

  • Location of any known examples of flutes in question (ideally, but not essentially by the specified maker, providing the performance is likely to be similar)

  • Our comments


You'll notice several jurists and exhibitors are given as from the Zollverein.  Germany as a unified state did not exist in 1851 – it was merely a regional “label”.  Zollverein -  literal translation "Customs (Zoll)  union (Verein)" was a step towards the unification of Germany.  Founded in 1834, the Zollverein (Deutscher Zollverein or German Customs Union) had been renewed in 1841 for a term ending December 31, 1853. By 1848 its revenues had steadily increased, and it included most German states, the major exceptions being Austria and those of north-west Germany.


When time permits, we'll come back and add images of these or sufficiently similar instruments.  If you happen to have or could take an image that fits the bill, do get in touch!

List of Exhibitors Displaying Flutes in Class Xa - Musical Instruments


Badger, Alfred G.  New York - Manufacturer

USA, number unknown (displayed separately on the Industrial Materials stand of Charles Goodyear)

Four flutes of ebonite, demonstrating for the first time the application of that material to the making of woodwind musical instruments.



Comment:  Charles Goodyear had begun to experiment with innovative industrial uses of rubber in 1834 and by 1839 had developed the vulcanization process using a rubber/sulphur mixture subjected to suitable heat-treatment.  He was anxious to demonstrate the potential uses of the new material, and to this end collaborated with the established New Your flute maker Alfred G. Badger.  Badger had become established in New York by 1848, and by 1851 had made four flutes using Goodyear’s “patent vulcanized India-rubber”.  These flutes were exhibited at the 1851 Exhibition, and again in Paris in 1855.  It is not clear what kind of flutes these were – Badger had been producing an “improved” 8-key model in collaboration with the flautist Kyle, and later became a key figure in the promotion of the Boehm flute in the USA. The Exhibition flutes could have been of either kind.

Theobald Boehm recalled having examined these flutes, and also reported that Badger had given him several unfinished tubes from which to make experimental flutes of his own.  Boehm did so, but the results did not impress him. 

Goodyear refined the new material to the point where by 1859 he was producing a highly-finished  instrument-grade material called “ebonite” for Badger to use in making instruments.  Badger quickly purchased the exclusive US patent rights from Goodyear to use this material for flute manufacture.  The use of ebonite quickly spread to other countries and had become a staple material for woodwind instruments by the latter decades of the nineteenth century.  This was thus a highly significant exhibit.  


Boehm, T.   Munich - Inventor and Manufacturer

Zollverein (2), No. 23

A cylindrical silver flute, stated to be of superior tone, and equal and correct tuning; these advantages are claimed to be attained by the following improvements:- Correct proportions in the construction of the tube, a new arrangement of the key-mechanism, which allows the holes to be made as large as required, and a new form of embouchure, of gold, which offers no impediment to the vibrations of the tube. 

Flute d'amour (in B flat), of German silver, of the same construction.

Model of a patent hautboy, constructed on the same principles, with improvements since made by the inventor.

Award: the Council Medal for innovation, awarded for "important scientific improvements of the flute; and the successful application of his principles to other wind instruments".  The citation in the text of the Final Report of the Jury read as follows:

 “Mr. Boehm’s inventions may be described as follows:-

Firstly, he has brought the acoustical proportions of tubes and the fingerholes of wind instruments into correct numbers and measurement, by which means flutes, oboes, clarionets, bassoons, &c., can be theoretically constructed.  Secondly, he has invented a mechanism for the keys which gives facility and precision to the execution, and by which the former difficulty of reaching or stopping the holes at great distances, or of large size, is now surmounted.  As by these means the holes can be made correct in size and position, Mr. Boehm has acquired not only a perfection in tone and tuning never before attained, but also a great facility in playing in those keys which were hitherto difficult and defective in sonorousness or intonation”. 


Comment:  This design was basically the same one that is still in use today as the standard concert flute.  It has evolved somewhat in detail over the years, but all of the essential design concepts represented on today's Boehm flute were present or suggested on this groundbreaking model.

It is important to note that Boehm did not win the prestigious Council Medal merely for his flute, as is often assumed, but for his successful development of a system  of acoustical improvements which were applicable not only to the flute but also to other instruments, as demonstrated by Boehm with respect to the hautboy or oboe which he displayed alongside his flutes.  The detailed commentary in the Final Report of the Jury makes this abundantly clear – the word “flutes” is mentioned only once as part of a listing of wind instruments to which Boehm’s improvements are applicable.  


Breton, ---- 28, Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, Paris - Manufacturer

France, No. 1555

Wooden clarionet, on Boehm's principle; crystal flute; wooden flute on Boehm's principle; common flute.

Award:  Honourable Mention for his "clarionet on Boehm's principle".


Comment:  This is obviously J. D. Breton, who is listed in Langwill at the above address from 1844 through 1867. He specialised in glass flutes, having been C. Laurent's pupil and later his successor.


Buffet, jun., 4 Rue du Bouloi, Paris - Manufacturer  

France, No. 442

Clarionets, on an improved principle; flutes, oboes, and bassoons, for military bands.  

Award:  Prize Medal for workmanship for "Oboes, clarionets, flutes, and a "corno-Inglese"".


Comment:   This must be Auguste Buffet jeune, although he is listed in Langwill as only working at the above address until 1844.  It would seem that he actually continued to use this address for some time thereafter. 


Card, William, 29 St, James' Street - Designer and Manufacturer  

Great Britain, Class x, No. 546

Silver flute, with rods, rings and levers, equal to twelve keys. Stirling's British gold flute.  Electro-silvered flute.  Congas [probably they mean cocus] wood flute, with silver mountings and keys.

Award:  Honourable Mention for "flutes"


Comment:  Card (1788 - 1861) was a well known London-based professional flautist who held a number of very prestigious appointments in his day. 

Card's flute design was a rather odd hybrid arrangement which combined a simplification of the right hand of Boehm's original 1832 design with what was in essence the standard left hand arrangement of the old 8-key flute, applied to the conical bore. It thus combined elements of both the closed and open keyed concepts.  It did away with the need for the long F key, but otherwise retained most of the closed keys of the old flute.  Card appears to have exhibited this flute in both gold and silver versions - the reference to "Stirling's" flute is perhaps a misprint for "Sterling" (which was the gold standard used for British coinage and can also mean "excellent, outstanding", etc.). 


Clair, Godfroy,  63 Rue Montmartre, Paris

France, No. 454

Wooden and silver flutes on different systems.  Patent Boehm flutes.

Award:  Prize Medal for workmanship, awarded for "flutes"


Comment: The list of exhibitors gives the name incorrectly as reproduced above - this was actually Clair Godfroy, senior, usually referred to as Clair Godfroy aine.  And he had actually died in 1841!!  But the firm was continued by his successors Vincent Hypolite Godfroy (1806 - 1868) and Louis Espirit Lot (1807-1896) , who continued in partnership to use the Clair Godfroy trade name.  This must be their entry under the company name.  By the time the awards were announced, the organisers had corrected their earlier error and the Prize Medal was officially awarded to Clair Godfroy, sen.   Godfroy had made early examples of Boehm's 1832 flute and the firm manufactured the 1847 Boehm flute under license from Boehm, which was presumably the "patent Boehm flute" displayed here.  Langwill gives the firm's address at the time as 67 Rue Montmartre, so the number given in the list of exhibitors may be another misprint, of which there seem to be many in the list of exhibitors. Louis Lot quit the partnership in 1855 to go on his own.


Eisenbrandt, C. H., Baltimore, Maryland - Maker

United States, No. 481

Flutes &c.  Printing machine for the blind.

Award:  Prize Medal for workmanship, awarded for "clarinets and flutes"


Comment: This was Heinrich Christian Eisenbrandt (1790 – 1860), who had been born in Gottingen, Germany, and fled to the USA in 1808 to avoid conscription during the Napoleonic Wars. After a brief return to Gottingen in 1816-1819, he settled in Baltimore and remained there until his death in 1860.  He was the first US-based maker of the 1832 Boehm conical bored wooden flute. 


Felchlin, Charles, Berne - Manufacturer

Switzerland, No. 80

Bass clarionet, of improved construction, made of boxwood, inlaid with ivory, having 17 brass keys, the nib of grenadilla wood, the binding plated.

Boxwood clarionet (C. B flat), inlaid with ivory, 13 plated keys, improved construction, with two nibs, and plated binding, in a case. 

Ebony flute, inlaid with ivory, silver groove, 190 plated keys, in a case.  

Award:  none.


Comment: This was Josef Karl Felchlin (1800 - 1855), who was known outside Switzerland as Charles Felchlin.  He was a member of an extended family of Swiss instrument makers.


Fontina, Andrea, Carrara -  Inventor and Manufacturer

Tuscany, No. 122 

A clarionet and a German flute, made in white marble.  The tones produced are of great mellowness and perfection.

Award:  none.


Comment: Fontina also exhibited a vase in white alabaster as well as a tazza and a bust in marble. He seems to have been primarily a sculptor.


Gautrot ainé , 60 Rue St. Louis (au Marais), Paris  - Manufacturer

France, No. 844

Musical instruments: horns, cornets, trumpets, clarions (chromatic), counter bombardons, ophicleides, trombones, etc.

Award:  Honourable mention for bombardons


Comment:  Gautrot was not specifically listed as having displayed flutes, but he was one of the largest manufacturers in France and was certainly making flutes at this time.  He definitely displayed flutes at subsequent exhibitions in 1855 and 1862, and it thus seems likely that he did so also in 1851, possibly part of the "etc.".  Hence his inclusion here on the basis of probability. Any flutes displayed would have been of the old 8-key conical-bored pattern, since Boehm’s 1847 cylindrical design was protected by a French patent at the time.  Certainly, the flutes displayed by Gautrot in 1855 were of the old pattern.  Gautrot was not known for innovation in design terms but rather for his successful pioneering of the application of mass-production techniques to wind instrument production. 


Glier, Gottleib, Markneukirchen - Manufacturer

Zollverein (3), No. 21

Wind instruments,  Sax horns. Bugle of copper, with eight keys of argentan.  Bugle of brass, with the same.  D flute of ebony, with keys.

Award:  none.


Comment: Glier appears to have been a maker of budget flutes for the mass market - his price list states that his keyed D flute in ebony sold for the princely sum of 2 pounds 14 shillings!! 


Koenig & Pask, 441 Strand  

Great Britain, Class x, No. 504

A complete set of brass horns with valves (soprano to contra bass).  French horn, trombones and trumpets. Trombones with slides. Ophicleide with keys. Euphonion with four valves.  Cornet a pistons in various designs.  Clarionets, from a new design, and in metal.  Flutes, on a new system.  Drums - bass, tenor and side, for military purposes. 

Award:  Prize Medal for workmanship, specifically awarded to John Pask [not Koenig & Pask] for "clarionets and brass instruments".

Location:  EUCMI, if a "Ribas Improved" (see comment).

Comment: This was a very short-lived partnership (1849-1851) between the well-known flute and brass instrument maker John Pask and the virtuoso cornet player Koenig, who played in Jullien’s orchestra. Presumably Pask wanted the "name" connection. Obviously, at this time the brass instruments predominated!  Based on the citation of the Prize Medal awarded, the Jury knew very well who really made the instruments!!  Koenig quit in 1851, possibly in a huff over being left out of the Medal citation or perhaps prior to its award (which would explain the fact that only Pask was named in connection with the award).  

The "flute on a new system" exhibited by John Pask seems likely to have been his rendition of the design variant known as "Ribas' Improved", since this is currently the only non-standard model known to have been made by Pask during the period in question. This was a minor design variant of the old 8 closed-key conical bored flute which was developed by the eminent Spanish flautist and long-time London resident Jose Marie del Carmen Ribas.   It seems rather a stretch to designate this design variant a "new system". 

It is a 9-key - the extra key this time is a D trill, operated by R1.  Note that pressing the D trill appears to open the C key, for extra venting.  Note also the Bb is no longer the typical English down-the-side key, but has been put more "in-line" with the thumb.  The G# key and its mountings are missing from this flute, but it's hole can be seen just to the right of the third finger hole.  It presumably followed the German angled approach.

Apart from the slightly unusual keying arrangements, the most significant improvement was a bigger bore than those commonly in use.  Note the apparent lack of a serial number.

Ribas's Improved, by John Pask.  Edinburgh University Collection of Musical Instruments.  
Image T. McGee, 2002.


Lampferhoff, J. & A., Essen

Zollverein (1), No. 485

New constructed solo clarionet.  Solo flute.  Military band clarionet.

Award:  none.


Comment:  A note by the compiler of the exhibitor's list states that "Solo is used here in contra-distinction to "military", there being peculiar clarionets and flutes used in concert for martial music.  The "solo" clarionet, so called, is always used in concert for regular orchestral music".  The price list attached to the exhibit states that the "solo" flute (presumably a standard orchestral instrument) cost 4 pounds 10 shillings.


Peaff, G., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

United States, No. 526


Award:  none.


Comment:  Peaff is not listed as a maker in Langwill. This is presumably yet another  misprint in the list of exhibitors.  The individual concerned is almost certainly Johann (John) Pfaff, who worked in Philadelphia between 1843 and c 1888.  He was a flute specialist who was apparently an early experimenter in all-metal construction of flutes and clarinets. 


Pfaff, Michel, Kaiserlautern - Producer 

Zollverein (2), No. 35

Bombardon ophicleide in C, with four valves and mouthpiece. Trumpet in B flat, with three valves, four crooks and mouthpiece. (Langwill credits Pfaff with having also exhibited a flute in gutta-percha, but this does not appear in the official list of exhibitors.  However, we have included him here on the basis of Langwill's notation).

Award:  none.


Comment:  This is Georg Michael Pfaff, who abandoned the music trade in 1864 to found the famous sewing machine company of G. M. Pfaff AG.  He was the brother of Johann Pfaff of Philadelphia (see earlier entry).


Potter, Henry, 2 Bridge Street, Westminster - Manufacturer 

Great Britain, Class x, No. 538

Clinton's flute, on acoustic principles, being the only one with the old fingering throughout, with equality of tone and perfection of tune.  

Award:  none.

Location:  Adrian Duncan collection - playable.

Clinton flute as made by Potter (this one fitted with a Rudall Rose Patent Head)

CommentThe flute in question was basically a standard  8-key wooden conical bored instrument with the holes correctly sized and placed from an acoustical standpoint.  Control over those holes was maintained by the use of simple closed-key mechanism which retained the 8-key fingering throughout. It also had a special provision built in to make the effective size of the C# hole variable depending on its function in producing the desired note.  This was the main functional difference between it and the Siccama model.  Tests on our own example show that it was a very fine flute indeed, with a powerful tone and excellent intonation. Despite this, it does not appear to have subsequently made a significant impact on the marketplace, although Welch states that it was still in production by the Potter firm in 1882 when he wrote the first edition of his "History of the Boehm Flute".

Although Clinton's flute did not win an award, it was one of only two flutes (the other being Boehm's) specifically mentioned in the text of the Final Report of the Jury for Class Xa. This is one of the real oddities regarding the outcome of the 1851 Exhibition!  The citation reads as follows:

"It should also be mentioned that several improvements are illustrated in Mr. J. Clinton's flute exhibited by Mr. Potter, in which the facilities of other modern flutes and the ordinary system of fingering are combined and their defective parts avoided.  In this instrument, the tone and tune are rendered equal by the same means that Mr. Boehm has adopted, namely, an equality of size and distance in the holes.  It has likewise claims to consideration for comparative cheapness, the mechanism being so simple that its price does not exceed that of the old eight-key flute”.


Rudall, Rose & Co., 38 Southampton Street, Strand - Proprietors and Manufacturers

Great Britain, Class x, No. 536

Richard Carte's Patent Flutes, with new and old fingering, made of silver or other metal, or of wood; possessing all the latest improvements arising from equidistant and equal-sized holes and open keys.  The arrangement of the holes, and contrivance of the mechanism are available either with Boehm's parabola and cylinder bore, or Rose's improved conical bore.

Patent flute, constructed on the principles first introduced by Boehm, viz., equidistant and equal sized holes, and open keys.  The patent was granted for a parabola-shaped head-joint, and cylindrical body joints.

Improved ordinary flute - its merits are said to consist in the improvement of the tone, arising from the novel proportions of its conical bore.  The fingering and arrangement of holes and keys remain as usual.   

Award:  Prize Medal for workmanship, awarded to Rudall & Rose for "Carte's Boehm patent flute"  

Location:  Adrian Duncan collection - playable.

Comment:  The flute mentioned in the award citation is the all-metal cylindrical (Boehm patent) version of the Carte 1851 design.

Carte's system of fingering was aimed at freeing up the left hand little finger and thumb and otherwise restoring as much as possible of the old 8-key fingering.  However, like Boehm's design (and unlike those of Card, Clinton, Siccama and Tulou), Carte's model was based throughout upon the open-keyed system. Carte applied his system of fingering both to the cylinder and Rose's revised conoidal bore, and claimed that the relative tonal merits of the two bores were such as to render the choice merely a matter of individual taste, although he personally favoured the sound of the cylinder bore. The mechanism used to achieve his goals was more complex and "finicky" than that of the standard Boehm instrument, but both the 1851 model exhibited at the Exhibition and the later 1867 derivation proved very popular, the 1867 model surviving in use well into the 20th century before finally being submerged, like all of the rest, by the all-conquering Boehm design. 


Seidel, Joseph, Mentz - Manufacturer

Zollverein (6), No. 26

Clarionets of boxwood, mounted with ivory, brass keys; flutes and piccolo of the same materials.

Award:  none   


Comment:  This is Josef Franz Seidel (1806-1872), who was a Court maker for a time at Hesse-Darmstadt.


Selboe, Johann Christoff, Copenhagen - Manufacturer

Denmark, No. 31

Ebony flute, B flat, with eleven silver keys and an Archimedean bore.  Clarionet, in B flat, on J. Van Muller's construction, with two mouthpieces, the one with a metal covering inside.  Hautboy, or oboe, with keys of German silver, on the older Dresden pattern.

Award:  none   


Comment:  the "Archimedean" bore of this flute must have been something to see!!  Selboe (1807 - 1873) had apprenticed in Germany, but worked in Denmark after 1837.


Siccama, Abel, 135 Fleet Street - Inventor, Patentee and Manufacturer 

Great Britain, Class x, No. 535

Diatonic flutes, retaining the old system of fingering while affording numerous additional fingerings, on a system strictly based upon acoustic principles.  Their tone is said to be powerful and brilliant.  They are easier of execution, and therefore require less exertion to play than the ordinary flute.  There are three middle C's on this flute, all of the same quality and perfectly in tune.   

Award:  none   

Location:  McGee Flutes Research Collection - playable.


Siccama Flute, by Siccama

Comment:  Siccama was well established by 1851 and had a number of high-profile players using his flutes, including the celebrated Joseph Richardson and Robert Sidney Pratten. His flutes were made for him at the time by the talented maker John Hudson. He advertised his Diatonic flutes as costing between 10 and 16 guineas with case, and also advertised piccolos on the same principle for prices ranging from 4 to 6 guineas. 

Like the Potter/Clinton model mentioned above, this was in effect a standard 8-key wooden conical-bored instrument with the holes correctly placed and sized from an acoustical standpoint and simple closed-key mechanism being provided to retain control of the rearranged holes using the standard 8-key fingering.  It was thus philosophically similar to the Potter/Clinton model, but lacked the provisions made in Clinton's design to deal with the well-known problem of the tuning of C natural and C#.  Its mechanism was also somewhat less sturdy than that of the Potter/Clinton and was more prone to derangement through careless use.  Nonetheless, tests on our own playable example show that it was a very useful instrument indeed, and it did achieve quite widespread popularity for quite a long time following the Exhibition. 


Triebert, Frederic, 132 Rue Montmartre, Paris – Musical Instrument Maker 

France, No. 1510

Musical instruments:  horns, flutes, hautboys, English horns; clarionet mouthpieces with moveable sound board; newly invented reeds, for various instruments.   

Award:  Prize Medal for oboes and a “corno-Inglese”.  None for flutes.


Comment:   The official 1851 guide book “The Crystal Palace and its Contents” stated that “M. Tribert (sic) exhibited flutes and clarionets, highly finished, and a clarionet in tortoiseshell and silver”.


Tulou, ---, 27 Rue des Martyrs, Paris - Manufacturer  

France, No. 398

Improved flutes, with a key in C, in which are introduced important modifications.  The keys are arranged so as to enable the player to produce correctly and with ease certain generally defective notes.  The springs are of gold and never require oiling.

Award:  Honourable mention for "flutes".

Location:  McGee Flutes research collection - playable.

 Variant of Tulou's System Perfectionee by Buffet Crampon

Comment:   This was the famous flute soloist Jean-Louis Tulou (1786 - 1865), who had entered the manufacturing field in 1831 in partnership with Jacques Nonon.  Tulou's System Perfectionee flute was essentially a small-holed French-style 8-key with a few trills and an additional lever for bringing the dismally flat F# up to pitch.  It is rather hard to see why he would have received an Honourable Mention for what was really a patched-up design at the end of its life.  One is tempted to believe it was organised by Berlioz (a French member of the jury) either to assuage French pride, or as a mark of respect for Tulou, or both.


Uhlmann, Joseph, Vienna - Manufacturer

Austria, No. 155

Various wind instruments of wood and metal (including flutes).

Award:  Honourable mention for "F, E and A clarionets, oboe and corno-bassetto".


Comment:  Uhlmann's Exhibition price list includes flutes at 100 florins. Hence his inclusion in this list. 


Ward, Cornelius, 36 Great Tichfield Street - Inventor, Patentee and Manufacturer

Great Britain, Class x, No. 527

(Most of Ward's exhibit consisted of various drums. But he did exhibit his patent flute as well as a bassoon)

Flute, with the natural proportion of tube required for each note of its scale.

Bassoon of new construction

Award:  Prize Medal for workmanship, awarded for "newly-constructed bassoon, and a pair of kettle drums

Location:  private collection, England - playable

Comment:  Ward (1796 - 1872) was a consummate craftsman.  By this time, his patent flute had more or less run its course and had failed to make any impression upon the market.  He probably entered it out of sheer stubbornness or in the hope of winning a Prize Medal for workmanship in connection with the instrument. As it transpired, his flute was the only one of his products not cited in his Prize Medal citation!!  By the time of the Exhibition he seems to have moved away from woodwind manufacture into the drum-making business for the most part.

We have so far been unable to test a Ward flute - the few that appear in museums being unplayable.  This has lead to the view, possibly correct, that the major weakness of Ward's system of "bell cranks" was that it was too easily deranged.  Ward discusses his design (and much much more) at Cornelius Ward.


Ziegler, Johann, Vienna – Manufacturer 

Austria, No. 156

Flutes and clarionet

Award:  none.


Comment:   This is the Hungarian-born maker Johann Joseph Ziegler (b. 1795, d. 1858) who became established in Vienna in 1821. The “Catalogue Advertiser”  (in which manufacturers could provide information on prices, etc.) stated that Ziegler was offering “a flute of cocoa-nut wood, in case, 120 florins ………Ditto of ebony, in case, 100 florins …… A clarinet of ebony, in case, 100 florins.”  Gian Luca Petrucci reports that during the Exhibition the Italian virtuoso Giulio Briccialdi showed Ziegler an example of a new flute design of Briccialdi’s own invention, which  Ziegler subsequently manufactured for a time.


Some additional flute family instruments

These makers also included flute family instruments and are included for the sake of completeness.

C. G. Herold (Zollverein, no. 19) – mostly brass instruments, but did exhibit a 10-key piccolo in ivory. 

John Kohler (Great Britain, no. 540) - the catalogue reflects an all-brass exhibit.  But the very long and detailed price list that he filed with the organisers does include flutes – some odd ones too, one with 8 “elastic plug”  keys and sets of 4-key flutes (8 to a set) with brass keys, presumably for band use.

S. Theisz  (Austria, no. 152A) – exhibited a French Horn and a fife. 


The Awards

It appears to be a common misconception that the Prize Medal award to Rudall & Rose for Carte's Boehm patent flute was the only such award granted for flutes at the Exhibition - certainly, that award is generally the sole flute-related Prize Medal to which reference is made in the literature.  A review of the above list makes it clear that this was far from being the case - Buffet, Eisenbrand and Godfroy also won Prize Medals for flutes.  Further, the Prize Medal to Rudall & Rose was awarded for excellence of workmanship, not for the design of Carte's flute as he himself claimed, nor indeed for any flute design.  It should come as no surprise to find that manufacturers other than Rudall & Rose should have demonstrated their manufacturing skills just as effectively at an international exhibition of this stature. Indeed, Carte's printed claim in the second edition of his "Sketch on the Successive Improvement Made in the Flute" to have won "the only Prize Medal obtained in England" is found by reference to the above list to be also in error - his fellow London flutemakers John Pask and Cornelius Ward both took Prize Medals for workmanship.  Although their awards were granted specifically for wind instruments other than flutes (among other things), their demonstrated skills in woodwind manufacture were judged to be equal to those of all their fellow Prize Medalists and were of course directly transferable to their flutes.

The misconception that Rudall & Rose were singled out from among the other flute exhibitors on account of Carte's flute as opposed to the excellence of their workmanship appears to have arisen from a tendency to simply accept Carte's own statements in the Postscript to the second edition of his "Sketch" without checking the facts on the basis of original sources.  As a businessman, Carte was clearly trying to sell the merits of his own flute over those of competing designs, and this very likely explains the inaccuracies in his published claims. 

Matters of interest

Interesting to note that the only designs which used the cylinder bore were those based directly on Boehm's 1847 model - Boehm's own entry, that by Clair Godfroy (which were both standard 1847 Boehm models) and Carte's model.  All of the rest were conical bored flutes.  Not surprising as the design was patented in Germany, France and England, and so only available to the patentees or their licensees.  But a reminder that the cone flute was still the lingua franca of the flute playing world at this time.

The same can be said for the keying systems, most being still based on the older "closed" system of keying.


The information from the jury's report comes from "Musical Instruments in the 1851 Exhibition" - A Transcription of the entries of musical interest from the Official Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Art and Industry of all Nations, with additional material from contemporary sources [authors' overview].  Edited by Peter and Ann Mactaggart, Published by Mac & Me Ltd, Welwyn, Herts, England  AL6 9EU.


What a remarkable collection of instruments, and what perfect timing for an exhibition - right in the middle of the turmoil whipped up by the release of Boehm's cylindrical flute. The most famous makers and minds in the flute world vying for attention in front of an international audience and a well-qualified international jury. 

And as mentioned above, if you happen to have a playable example of any of these instruments secreted away in a bottom drawer somewhere, get in touch!

Adrian Duncan, Terry McGee


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  Created , 3 February 2006; last edited 25 May 2006.