Flutes at the Royal Military Exhibition, London, 1890



In 1890 the British military authorities decided to stage a  major exhibition of military artefacts and current technology, primarily aimed at demonstrating the progressive development of British military equipment and tactics from early times up to the then-present day. The event was staged in London over a five-month period from mid-May through into October of 1890.

The exhibits were centered in the extensive buildings and grounds of the Royal Military Hospital in Chelsea, which served as the location for various displays of historical artefacts, including such gems as a helmet belonging to Sir Richard Warren, a helmet worn by Oliver Cromwell, a silver snuff box made from the breastplates of officers killed at Waterloo, the cloak and sword worn by Wellington at Waterloo and numerous other rarities.  There were also displays of military art by some of Britain’s finest artists.

However, the event was far more than a static display of military artefacts – the intent was also to demonstrate the military expertise and pageantry of the British empire, then at its height. To do this, it would be necessary to attract the interest of the British public by staging active events throughout the Exhibition which would ensure their attendance in large numbers.  A military tattoo was one of the events staged for this purpose, and there were demonstrations of field exercises, drill parades, horsemanship and the like – the kind of spectacle that the Victorian-era London public liked to patronize and be seen doing so!  But there were certainly other avenues whereby public interest could be stimulated, and the performance of military music throughout the event was clearly one of them.  This avenue for popularizing the Exhibition was exploited to the full.

The officers and staff of the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall were assigned the task of making the musical arrangements for the Exhibition.  Primary responsibility for this rested with the Commandant of the School, Colonel T. B. Shaw-Hellier. An ambitious program of performances by military bands from across the United Kingdom was arranged, and no fewer than 74 such bands performed during the five-month duration of the event.  A range of prizes was offered to the various participants, both for performance and composition. This naturally stimulated competition and hence an elevated standard of performance.  

It was recognized at the time that the practise of military music was indivisibly and very directly related to the practise of music on a professional level outside of the military. Indeed, many musicians crossed the line between the two categories. The authorities at Kneller Hall were justifiably proud of their achievements in the field of musical education in Britain and were anxious to demonstrate the close relationship between military and non-military professional music as well as the instruments upon which such music was practised.  Accordingly, they decided to arrange for the assembly of a comprehensive collection of musical instruments of the classes employed in a military context (essentially wind instruments and drums), and to include this collection as one of the featured displays at the Exhibition.

Colonel Shaw-Hellier was no stranger to the task of assembling a musical instrument collection – it was in fact a family tradition. A distant ancestor, Samuel Hellier, had been a personal friend of Handel’s and had acquired a large collection of Handel manuscripts at the family home near Wolverhampton. Another ancestor, Sir Samuel Shaw-Hellier (c.1736–1784) had added a substantial collection of musical instruments, include wind instruments, drums and a tambourine. This collection remained in the family over the years and was added to by Colonel Shaw-Hellier to form the Shaw-Hellier Collection.  Colonel Shaw-Hellier died in 1910, but the collection remained intact.  It forms part of the Edinburgh University Collection today, having been on indefinite loan to that institution since 1993. 

Returning to the year 1890, the collection that was assemble in London during the summer of that year was an extremely significant one from a historical standpoint.  The intention was not merely to display instruments in current use within military band circles but also to demonstrate the stages through which the various classes of instruments had passed on their road towards the state in which they existed as of 1890.  Examples of instruments from the earliest times up to the date of the Exhibition were therefore displayed side by side for interested parties to examine and compare.  There were in fact over 500 individual items on display. It must have been an event of the greatest interest for anyone concerned with the history of musical instruments in general and wind instruments in particular. 

As far as our particular interests go, the display included some 82 distinct exhibits of transverse flutes and fifes. These were lent to the Exhibition by various manufacturers, institutions and private individuals. It is fortunate for posterity that the military organizers recognized the significance of this collection and were keen to record this facet of the event as comprehensively as possible.  To that end, it was decided to produce a detailed Catalogue in book form in which the entire musical instrument display would be recorded in detail.

Circumstances beyond his control prevented Colonel Shaw-Hellier from taking the lead role in the preparation of this work, and he was forced to rely upon a junior officer, Captain C. R. Day of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, to lead this initiative under the general supervision of Colonel Shaw-Hellier.  This was a fortuitous choice, as events proved.

Charles Russell Day was the only son of the Rev. Russell Day, rector of Horstead, Norwich. He was born in April 1860 and received his education at Eton. He entered the Oxfordshire Light Infantry from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Lancashire Militia in January 1882 and was promoted to Captain in July 1889, later advancing to the rank of Major in October 1899.

Captain Day (as he was at the time of the Exhibition) was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was also well known in the musical world. He was thus very well suited to his assigned task both by inclination and experience, and he must have found it to be a very congenial duty indeed!  On the basis of his experience with the 1890 Exhibition, he later served as a member of the English Committee of the Vienna International Musical Exhibition of 1892 and also served in an advance planning capacity for the Paris Musical Exhibition of 1900. In addition, he was the author of a book entitled “Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and The Deccan.”  

Major Day accompanied his battalion to South Africa in December 1899, and was present at the fighting at Klip Kraal, where his field glasses were shattered by a bullet. He also took part in the relief of Kimberley, but at Paardeberg was struck down when going to the assistance of Corporal Knowles, who was wounded and whose life he saved. After he had himself been wounded, and while being attended to, his first thought was for the Corporal, adding “never mind me.” Major Day died of his wounds on 8th February 1900, still not yet 40 years old.  He is buried in Paardeberg.  But his work lives on ………….

Returning to 1890, the then 30-year old Captain Day was faced with a truly Herculean task in assembling a Catalogue covering so many exhibits in the detail required by his orders. In fact, the task was beyond the capacity of a single individual, however well qualified and motivated. Captain Day therefore called in a number of assistants from outside the military.

Among these individuals was none other than Richard S. Rockstro, who had just published his monumental “Treatise on the Flute” during 1890.  Rockstro’s name was therefore in the eye of the musical public at the time, and he would have appeared to Captain Day to be the logical choice to write up the section of the Catalogue dealing with transverse flutes.  He readily agreed to do so – indeed, it would appear that he must have relished the opportunity to reinforce a number of the views expressed in his recently-published “Treatise” as well as to promote his own flute design, the “Rockstro Model” then in production by Rudall, Carte & Co.!

The following material is significant in the context of flute history in that it represents a previously-overlooked piece of writing by Rockstro which actually post-dates the “Treatise” for which he is best remembered.  We hope that fellow students of flute history will enjoy reading this forgotten piece of flute-related literature as much as we have enjoyed uncovering it and bringing it to you! 

At this point, it is best to turn the pen over to those who were directly involved with the Exhibition at the time. All punctuation and spelling are as per the original text, and all emphases are those applied to the original text also. Our own comments appear in the text in [blueline].

The book from which this information was drawn is quite rare these days.  Here is the information regarding the work in question. 

“A Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments Recently Exhibited at the Royal Military Exhibition,
London, 1890”

Issued under the orders of Colonel Shaw-Hellier, Commandant, Royal Military School of Music;
and compiled by Captain C. R. Day, Oxfordshire Light Infantry.

Eyre & Spottiswoode, Government and General Publishers, London – East Harding Street, Fetter Lane, E.C.

Published 1891 – 253 pages with illustrations.

Preface – by Colonel Shaw-Hellier, Commandant, Royal Military School of Music

When the Royal Military Exhibition of last year was first promoted [Colonel Shaw-Hellier was writing in 1891 – A.D.], I was requested by those in authority to take entire charge of the musical arrangements, and to provide for the performance of varied programmes of popular music, in the grounds of the Exhibition, during the season. As this seemed to me to offer an opportunity, probably unique, for enabling the public to judge of the capabilities of our best military bands, I thought that by introducing music of a higher class into the programmes, and by arranging for a constant succession of different military bands, brought from all parts of the United Kingdom, instead of employing some half dozen bands only, amusement for the frequenters of the Exhibition would be more amply provided for.  And, in addition to this, music critics would have the opportunity of judging of the present state of military music generally, of the requirements of a military bandmaster and of a military musician, and also of the relative merits and demerits of our present system.  Accordingly, I suggested this plan, which met with the entire approval of H.R.H. the Commander-in–Chief, who issued the necessary orders to enable me to carry it out.  The Exhibition remained open some five months.  During these months no less than 74 different military bands of all branches of the Service were engaged, most of these remaining in London for a week.  By these means it has been possible to form a very fair idea as to the general state of military music in this country, and to gain a large amount of material knowledge as to the present system, which could not have been otherwise  obtained. 

As the development of military music is, like everything else in the army, rapidly progressing, it is becoming more than ever absolutely necessary that military musicians should be in accord and “touch” with the musical profession, and should have some real interest as regards what is occurring in the musical world; and unless this is so, we may look in vain for any real improvement.  That the career of a military musician should offer advantages in a professional point of view must be fully recognised.  And that the curriculum at Kneller Hall, as reconstituted, offers a sound musical education, and one which may, in its special way, be brought to compare favourably with that offered by the Royal Academy of Music, or Royal College of Music, is a point which time alone can show; and that time will show proof of this I venture to believe. 

As there is in England, unfortunately, no Conservatoire as comprehensive as that of Paris, and no Museum of Musical Instruments in which students can see the improvements and various experimental stages through which Musical Instruments have passed, the opportunity offered last year by the Exhibition appeared most appropriate for assembling a large collection.  And as the military musician has chiefly to deal with Wind Instruments, which in their present state are virtually the growth of the present century [that is to say, the class of instruments which had undergone the most significant degree of refinement during the century – A.D.], I proposed that the collection should be principally one of Wind Instruments.  The matter was fully discussed at a meeting held at the Royal Academy of Music, at which representatives of that excellent society, the Wind Instrument Chamber Music Society, and various leading musicians were present.  It was accordingly decided that the aim of the collection should be to set forth the gradual history and development of Wind Instruments from the earliest times to the most recent improvements of the day; a point which appears of the greatest importance and cannot be overrated.  Thanks to the cordial cooperation of Dr. MacKenzie, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, of M. Gevaert and M. Mahillon, of the Brussels Conservatoire, and various other gentlemen distinguished in the musical world, the collection became a fait accompli, and was thrown open to the public in June last [a few weeks after the actual opening of the Exhibition as a whole, which took place in mid-May.  Obviously, they ran a little late!  – A.D.].   

As there is no text book in English in which the theory and construction of  Wind Instruments is treated of, it seemed that a technical Catalogue designed upon the lines of that now issued would be a book of interest, and would also supply a want felt generally among students, too many of whom are, unfortunately, ignorant of anything further than the mere fingering of their instruments.

Unfortunately, the death of Mr. Charles Cousins, the Director of Music at Kneller Hall, which occurred in May last, caused my time to be occupied almost entirely with the affairs of the School of Music, much extra work falling of necessity upon my shoulders. I was therefore unable to devote as much time as I could have wished to the preparation of this Catalogue, and was compelled to place the matter, subject to my supervision, in the hands of Captain C. R. Day, an officer whose services had, on account of his musical knowledge, been placed, specially, at my disposal by H.R.H. the Commander-in-Chief, and whose skill and intelligence more than realised my most sanguine expectations.  Certain considerations, over which I had no control, prevented the publication of this Catalogue before; but as they are now happily removed, the work is issued with the hope that it may prove of interest and permanent value.  

To those gentlemen, and to those firms of Musical Instrument makers, who have so generously assisted us in carrying out this work, I desire to convey my fullest thanks, both for their disinterested help, and for the kindness and courtesy with which they have met us upon all occasions.  The names of these gentlemen, and the nature of their assistance, are more fully explained in a note of Captain Day’s, which I requested him to draw up, and which I therefore judge better to give at length below.

T. B. Shaw-Hellier, Colonel

Commandant, Royal Military School of Music

Note – by Captain C. R. Day, Oxfordshire Light Infantry

In the compilation of this Catalogue much valuable assistance has been received from various gentlemen, many of whom, at considerable personal inconvenience, unselfishly gave up valuable time and devoted themselves to minute examination of the instruments described in the following pages.  I wish especially to thank Mr. RICHARD ROCKSTRO, who very kindly undertook the whole of Section II., relating to Flutes, and who not only furnished the necessary details and “copy”, but contributed the admirable prefatory Essay to that Section, revising and seeing all through the press.  Especial thanks are also due to the Rev. F. W. GALPIN, F.L.S., for his energy and labour in connection with Sections I and IX [end-blown flutes and brass instruments with keys – A.D.]. The details and measurements of almost all the instruments described in these Sections were furnished by him, and his varied and practical knowledge has been of the greatest value.

Of the assistance and co-operation of Mr. J. D. BLAIKLEY, the able manager of Messrs. Boosey and Co’s manufactory, it would be impossible to speak too highly.  His knowledge of acoustics and his unique practical experience he generously placed at my disposal, and the value of his help, not only in one Section alone but throughout the work, cannot be overrated.  The learned and exhaustive Essay upon Musical Pitch, a subject of ever-increasing importance, and printed in the Appendix, is from Mr. BLAIKLEY’s pen and has been written by him especially for this work. [this interesting Essay will be made available separately – A.D.]  

Valuable assistance has been rendered by M. VICTOR MAHILLON, the Conservateur du Musee of the Brussels Conservatoire, and the kindness of this gentleman in coming over, especially, from Brussels was very great.  Thanks are also due to Mr. HENRY CARTE for much important information; and to Mr. GEORGE CASE , whose knowledge in connection with instruments of the Trombone family is well known.  Thanks are also due to Messrs. BESSON and Co. for their courtesy in affording facilities for the examination of various important documents and foreign patent specifications.  Acknowledgement is due also to Mr. KOHLER, to Mr. HENRY POTTER, to Mr. GEORGE POTTER, to Mr. GLEN, and to various others too numerous to mention individually.

In conclusion, I must also thank Mr. A. J. HIPKINS, F.S.A., for the sound criticism and judicious advice so freely given by him upon all occasions, and for his kind help and experience, which has been of the most material assistance.

C. R. Day, Captain

Oxfordshire Light Infantry

Text of Preamble to Section II, written entirely by Richard S. Rockstro for this publication.




FAMILY – Transverse flutes;  flutes traversieres, or German flutes, now generally known as “flutes”.

The flute of the present day has little in common with the flote, the schwegel, the flute droite, or the flute-a-bec of early times, these being simply whistles, whereas the distinguishing characteristics of the modern flute, like those of its prototype, the zwerchpfeiff or schweitzer-pfeiff, are the complete closing of the extreme upper end of the instrument, and the lateral mouth-hole, or embouchure.  The flute of our time may be described as a tube closed at one end by a “stopper” of cork or other material (which for the last century-and-a-half has generally been made moveable), and provided with seven or more lateral apertures. These, with the exception of that nearest to the closed end of the flute (the mouth-hole), are governed by the fingers, either directly or with the aid of keys. The form of the mouth-hole has varied greatly at different periods and places.  Oval is now the favourite shape in this country, but on the Continent an oblong, slightly rounded, is often used. In order to sound the instrument it is necessary to blow across this opening, which, always being partly open when the flute is in use, renders the tube, in an acoustical sense, open at both ends, consequently the harmonic sounds of the flute are the same as those of a stretched string, whatever, within very wide limits, the form of the bore may be.  The passing of the breath directly from the lips to the edge of the mouth-hole, without the intervention of the rigid mouth-piece common to all instruments of the whistle type, gives to the skilful flute player absolute command over the tone of his instrument.

The bore of the early flute was invariably cylindrical throughout, or as nearly cylindrical as it could be made.  At a period approaching the close of the seventeenth century the lower portion of the tube was gradually contracted in diameter so that it became conoidal, while for the upper part, or “head joint”, the original cylindrical form was retained.  The advantages of the conoidal bore were so great that it was soon generally adopted, excepting for military fifes; these, until recently, were made entirely cylindrical; hence, for the sake of distinction, the term “flute” came to be applied to transverse flutes of all sizes, with bore wholly or partly conoidal, while the smaller cylindrical instruments of the same genus were, and are, designated “fifes”.  The true fife is, however, almost obsolete, the instruments used in the so-called “drum and fife bands” being flutes of various sizes, with the bore usually described as “conical”.

In the year 1847 an important change was made in the bore of the flute by the late Theobald Boehm of Munich.  This change almost amounted to a complete reversal of the proportions which had been adopted for the previous century and a half, the head-joint being reduced in diameter at the upper part, while for the lower part, or “body” of the flute the original cylindrical shape was restored. The “cylinder flute with parabola head”, the name by which such instruments are generally known, possesses, under certain circumstances, a most decided and indisputable preponderance of advantages over the “conical flute”, and it has become deservedly popular in England, France and America; it is, however, but little esteemed in Germany.

One of the most interesting facts relating to the history of musical instruments is the almost complete immunity from change which has been maintained in the diameter of the cylindrical part of the bore of the “concert flute”, that is, the flute which gives the notes as they are written and fingered. [perpetuating an error which appears in his main “Treatise” – A.D.] The earliest, and the smallest, recorded measurement of the bore of this instrument, that give by Mersenne (Harmonie Universelle, Paris, 1636-37), is .71 inch, and there is no reason to believe that the diameter of the cylinder has ever exceeded .75 inch.  The largest part of the bore of a concert flute of the latest pattern has a diameter of 19 millimetres, .748 inch. 

The primitive flutes were provided with six “finger-holes” only; these, being covered or uncovered successively, gave a descending or ascending diatonic scale of an octave less one note, the open end of the flute giving the key-note.   The second series of notes was formed, as at present, by the harmonic octaves of the first series; the third, or as much of it as was possible, by the higher harmonics, assisted in their production by the opening of certain finger-holes as “vent-holes”.  The holes of the flutes of the sixteenth century were exceedingly small.  No. 44 [referring to an Exhibit number - sixteenth century boxwood flute by C. Rafi  – A. D.]  is a most interesting specimen of these very early instruments.  In the following century the finger-holes were much increased in size, those of the flute described by Mersenne varying from .266 to .444 inch diameter.  Probably with a view to improving what are termed “fork-fingerings” the holes were afterwards reduced in size. Those of the Monzani flute, No. 65, vary from .18 to .36 inch. The size was again increased by the celebrated Nicholsons, father and son, the largest hole (that for f#) of the Nicholson flutes being often .45 inch in its exterior diameter.  The best modern concert flutes, in the writer’s opinion, have equal-sized holes (with the exception of the highest three) of .64 inch. [a crafty puff for the Rockstro model – the first of several!! – A.D.] The main advantage of this increase and uniformity is the preservation of perfect intonation in the several octaves. 

In the times when Mersenne, Hotteterre and Quantz wrote, 1636 to 1752, the compass of the flute was considered to extend for about two octaves and a half; we have now three octaves of good notes, with a few higher sounds of inferior quality of tone. 

About the year 1660 the first step was taken in the direction of rendering the flute a chromatic instrument.  This was the addition of a seventh finger-hole, giving d#, governed by a closed key which was opened by the little finger of the right hand.  The name of the inventor of this key is unknown, but no great ingenuity had been exercised in its application to the flute, as similar keys had long previously been applied to other wind-instruments.  We are told by Quantz that about the year 1722 the flute was lengthened in order that c # and c natural might be obtained.  The holes for these notes were governed, as at present, by open keys.  No. 50 [boxwood concert flute by Biglioni of Rome, ex. Quantz c. 1725] is an early example of a flute with the c# key.  The well-known keys for F natural, g# and b flat were coming into use at a period not far removed from 1774.  The precise dates of their invention cannot be determined, but there is certain evidence that they were made in London by Richard Potter, the grandfather of the renowned Cipriani Potter, before the above-mentioned year.  It is also proved by Dr. J. J. H. Ribock, a German doctor of medicine, that these keys were made, at a period before the year 1782, by Tromlitz of Leipzig and by Kusder of London, the maker of the two hautboys numbered 178 and 179.  The long key for f natural was invented by Tromlitz before the year 1786.  The history of the c” key (which was at first an open one, similar to that on most of the modern flutes) is extremely interesting, but too long to be inserted here.  The ordinary c” key of the “eight-keyed flute” was invented prior to 1806.

The first systematic attempt to battle with the imperfections and difficulties caused by the union of open holes with closed keys, and the adaptation of the positions of the former to suit the convenience of the fingers instead of in accordance with the requirements of the musical scale, was made by Tromlitz, and described by him in 1800.  A more important and ingenious effort was made by a German doctor of medicine, named H. W. Pottgiesser, in 1803, but little notice seems to have been taken of either of these attempts to improve the flute, and even a letter from the illustrious C. M. von Weber, in the Leipzig Musical Gazette, concerning a new flute by Capeller of Munich, received scant attention, although on this flute was placed, for the first time, the now almost universally adopted key for d”.  A further experiment by Pottgiesser, in 1824, met with no better reception, and, notwithstanding numerous minor improvements, the flute remained in its old anomalous condition until 1826, when the unfortunate Captain Gordon of Charles the Tenth’s Swiss Guards, an amateur passionately devoted to the flute, began to apply himself to the task of devising a rational system of open holes and open keys, founded on the schemes of Tromlitz and Pottgiesser.  How Theobald Boehm modified the machinery, while retaining the principal features of the system of Gordon; how he asserted that the invention was, ab initio, his own, and that Gordon was utterly ignorant of the principles of flute-construction, are matters which have been amply discussed, and which need no more than a passing allusion here.  [may as well put the boot to Boehm while the chance offers!! – A.D.] The “ring-key” (see No. 97)  [a Rudall & Rose rendition of Boehm’s 1832 design, made c. 1844 - A.D.] for closing an open key and an uncovered hole by the same finger, an invention often attributed to Boehm, was first applied to a flute by the Reverend Frederick Nolan in 1808.  Pottgiesser, in 1824, and Gordon after him, employed a crescent, partly surrounding the hole, for the same purpose.  Many of the subsequent improvements and modifications are illustrated by the specimens hereafter described.

It has been the immemorial and almost universal custom to consider the fundamental note of the simple transverse flute as d’, whatever its actual sound may have been.  The flutes on which the note d’ (and of course every other note of the scale) sounded as it was written and fingered, were called d’, or concert, flutes.  Those of other sizes were named after the note actually given when d’ was fingered.  For example; a flute giving f’, with the fingering of d’, was called an f flute, or a flute in f, and the music for such an instrument was written a minor third lower than the actual sounds of the notes. This custom still prevails, and has been followed in the descriptions of the flutes in this Catalogue.  It should be understood that although a “c’ clarionet” gives the actual notes, as written and fingered, a “c’ flute” gives sounds a full tone lower.  The names of piccolos and fifes follow the same rule as those of flutes, excepting that those instruments sound an octave higher;  the d” piccolo, or octave flute, sounding an octave higher than the d’, or concert, flute. 

The pitches of the flutes described in the following pages are reckoned from a standard a’ with 452 double vibrations to the second, corresponding to c” with 537.5 vibrations.  [Equivalent to A = 452Hz.  Bands and orchestras at the time using English High Pitch.]



The Catalogue of Transverse Flutes Displayed at the Exhibition

[The following is a complete listing of all transverse flutes which were on display at the Exhibition.  In total, there were 82 individual exhibits in the transverse flute category.  We have provided a very brief description of each instrument and indicated its ownership at the time of the display.  We also provide an [indication] when an illustration (either a woodcut or a photograph) is included in the book.  In the case of a number of some of the nineteenth century flutes which relate closely to our own interests, we have reproduced Rockstro’s own descriptions verbatim in their entirety.  These are clearly broken out of the main listing and their exhibit numbers given in red. Details of the others must be obtained through reference to the actual Catalogue or to the instruments themselves if they can still be located today.  We can answer individual inquiries too if necessary – we own the book in question!]. 

15th and 16th Centuries

Exhibit No. 42 – One-piece keyless fife in b’ natural, dark brown wood (unspecified), maker unknown.  Lender - Brussels Conservatoire.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 43 – One-piece keyless cylinder flute, precisely similar to the above but tuned to f’. Wood unspecified, maker unknown. Lender - Brussels Conservatoire. [Photograph included]

Exhibit No. 44 – One-piece keyless cylinder flute of box-wood, in b’ flat, made by C. Rafi.  Lender - Brussels Conservatoire.  [Photograph included].

17th Century

Exhibit No. 45 – Model [copy] of a one-piece keyless cylinder flute, in f #, wood and maker unspecified.  Lender - Brussels Conservatoire.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 46 – Model [copy] of a two-piece keyless cylinder flute, in f natural, wood and maker unspecified.  Lender - Brussels Conservatoire.  [Photograph included].


Exhibit No. 47 - Model [copy] of a two-piece keyless cylinder flute, in e’ flat, wood and maker unspecified.  Lender - Brussels Conservatoire. [Photograph included].

[The originals of Nos. 45, 46 and 47 were preserved in the Musee Communal at Verona at the time.]

Exhibit No. 48 - Copies of a pair of fifes in g’.  Material and maker unspecified. Lender - Brussels Conservatoire. Original preserved in the Carolino Augusteum at Salzburg at the time.

18th Century

Exhibit No. 49 – Box-wood one-keyed concert-flute [i.e., flute in d’] having four joints.  Tuned at A=440.  Former property of J. J. Quantz.  Made by F. Boie c. 1725.  Lender - Mrs. Carli Zoeller.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 50 – Box-wood two-keyed concert-flute having four joints.  Former property of J. J. Quantz.  Made by Biglioni of Rome c. 1725.  Lender - Mrs. Carli Zoeller.

Exhibit No. 51 – One-keyed concert-flute of decorated ivory, having four joints.  Maker unspecified. Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 52 – One-keyed boxwood concert-flute.  Maker unspecified, but probably made in Germany. Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 53 – One-keyed boxwood concert-flute, having four joints.  Tuned to A=400.  By Thomas Lot, c. 1756. Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin (who obtained it from the Carli Zoeller collection, then in the process of being dispersed).

Exhibit No. 54 – One-keyed flute d’amour of box-wood, having four joints.  By Oberlender, date unspecified.  Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 55 – Four-keyed ivory concert flute by Cahusac of London, c. 1780.  Tuned about a semitone below the “present” English pitch [A=452 at the time] Has a screw stopper, but no tuning slide. Lender – Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 56 – Keyless walking-stick flute of ivory. Originally intended to feature a flute at one end and a piccolo at the other, but it had been damaged.  Maker unspecified. Lender – the Grossherzogliches Museum, Darmstadt, Germany.

Exhibit No. 57 –  Four-keyed walking stick flute of unspecified light-coloured wood.  Keys disguised as twig stumps.  Maker unspecified.  Lender – Messrs. Henry Potter & Co.

Exhibit No. 58 – One-keyed concert flute of ebony, having four joints.  By Hoffmann, date unspecified.  Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 59 – Eight-keyed concert flute of ivory, with screw stopper and tuning slide. By Richard Potter of London, c. 1783.  Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 60 – Fife in a’ flat, of unspecified German manufacture and unspecified date.  Material also unspecified.  Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck

Exhibit No. 61 – Box-wood six-keyed concert flute, with graduated tuning slide and screw-cork. Pewter plug keys throughout.  By Richard Potter at his Johnson’s Court address, c. 1785 [the year in which he patented the pewter plugs and moved to Johnson’s Court] Lender – Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 62 – Four-keyed concert flute of box-wood, with screw stopper and tuning slide. Pewter plug keys throughout. By Richard Potter of London, p. 1785.  Lender – Messrs. Boosey & Co.

Exhibit No. 63 – Four-keyed flute in a’, probably a b flat flute of its day [given the lower pitch then prevailing], with screw stopper and tuning slide. By Richard Potter of London, c. 1783.  Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin

19th Century

Exhibit No. 64 – Five-keyed concert flute of cut glass, in four pieces.  Has neither tuning slide nor screw stopper. By Laurent of Paris, c. 1806.  Lender – G. Donaldson, Esq.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 65

11-key concert flute by Monzani of London, c. 1807.

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of cocus-wood, in three pieces only.  The tuning slide is formed at the junction of the head with the second joint.  In addition to the ordinary eight keys there are a small key near the a’ hole, the purpose of which is doubtful; a g# shake key; and a lever for making the shake with the b flat key by the first finger of the right hand. [as often seen on later German flutes as well as on some of Clinton’s models – A. D.] The finger holes are unusually small for an English flute, the largest open holes being only .26 inch in diameter. On the foot joint is the number 1811, but the date of manufacture is probably c. 1807. [not clear how Rockstro reached this conclusion – A.D.]

Exhibit No. 66 – Eight-keyed concert flute of boxwood, with pewter plugs on all keys.  Identical to No. 61 above except that it has the long f’ and c” keys added.  By William Henry Potter, date unspecified.  Lender – Messrs. Henry Potter & Co.

Exhibit No. 67 – Six-keyed concert flute of boxwood, with pewter plugs on all keys.  Similar to No. 61 above, but the keys are all missing. By William Henry Potter, date unspecified.  Lender – Messrs. Henry Potter & Co.

Exhibit No. 68

6-key alto flute by Wigley & MacGregor, 1811

Lent by the Rev. F. W. Galpin,  M.A., F.L.S.

Flauto di voce”, an alto flute of box-wood, with ivory tips and cap, and six keys on knobs, in a’ flat.  MacGregor’s patent of 1810.  The head-joint is turned back so as to bring the mouth-hole more easily within reach, the double bore being cut in a single block of wood of oval exterior. There is the usual screw-stopper, but no tuning slide.  In addition to the four ordinary closed keys, for d#, f natural, g# and b flat, there are open keys for the e and c”# holes, for the purpose of reducing the stretch of the fingers.  The keys have their original pads, which are covered with leather, and are probably stuffed with sponge according to the terms of the specification.

A thin skin, stretched over a large opening at the side, almost opposite to the c”# hole, imparts a reedy tone.  No mention is made of this in the specification of patent, but it is known that some old flutes were thus made, in order to give a sympathetic tone somewhat like that of the hautboy, hence the name, voice flute”.- F. W. G.

Exhibit No. 69 – Eight-keyed bass flute (flauto di voce) in D, an octave lower than the concert flute, of boxwood, with knob-mounted brass keys.  McGregor’s patent of 1810. By Wigley & McGregor, 151 Strand, 1811-16.   Lender – Brussels Conservatoire.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 70 – Eight-keyed bass flute (flauto di voce) in D, identical to No. 69 except that the screw stopper is replaced by a solid ingot of gun-metal. McGregor’s patent of 1810. By Wigley & McGregor, 151 Strand, 1811-16.   Lender – Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 71 – Six-keyed concert flute of cut glass.  By Laurent of Paris, c. 1812.  Very similar to No. 64 except that it has the long f’ key added. Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 72

8-key flute of ivory, by James Wood of London, c. 1815

Lent by G. Donaldson, Esq.

Concert-flute of ivory, elaborately ornamented, with eight silver keys mounted on “knobs”, six of which have flat, circular flaps with leathers. The keys for c’ and c’# have metal plugs.  The head-joint, which is furnished with a screw-cork, is in one piece, the tuning slide being at the junction of the head with the second joint.  This slide is a “double cylindrical tube” of silver, which was patented [by Wood] in 1814.  The specification sets forth certain apocryphal advantages alleged to accrue from the application of such tubes to all the joints of a flute, but this specimen has only the one above mentioned, the other joints being united by the ordinary “pin and socket” with thread “lapping”. The pitch of this flute is about a semitone below the present English pitch [which was A=452 at the time – A.D.]  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 73 – Fife of boxwood in b’, no doubt a c” fife of the period [given the rise in pitch in England which had taken place during the 19th century – A.D.] Maker and date unspecified.  Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck 

Exhibit No. 74 – Fife of brass in e”, no doubt an f” fife of the period [given the rise in pitch in England which had taken place during the 19th century – A.D.] Maker and date unspecified.  Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck 

Exhibit No. 75 – Fife in g’, by Carl Sattler, date and material unspecified.  Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck 

Exhibit No. 76 – Nine-keyed concert flute of ebony.  Has the usual eight keys plus a touch for giving b flat with the first finger of the right hand. [once again, as often seen on later German flutes as well as on some of Clinton’s models – A. D.] By Monzani, 1815.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 77 – One-keyed concert flute of boxwood.  A single brass key. By Willis of London, 1815.  Willis was the maker of the first flutes that were branded with the name Rudall.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 78 – Four-keyed concert flute of box-wood.  By Wafford, date unspecified.  Wafford is an obscure maker, not being listed in directories, but a flute of his make survives in the DCM collection. Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 79 – Four-keyed flute d’amour of boxwood.  Generally similar to exhibit No. 54 (above) but is in three pieces only and has four keys.  By Clementi & Co., 1819.  Lender - the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 80 – Eight-keyed concert flute of cocus-wood.  Made by Cornelius Ward, who was working at the time for Louis Drouet during the latter’s short period in the flute-making business in London. 1818.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 81 – Fife of boxwood in g’, in two pieces. By Christian of Amsterdam. Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck 

Exhibit No. 82 – Fife of boxwood in a’ flat. By Key of London. Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 83 – Fife of massive iron, in g’. “Evidently the work of a person totally unskilled in the construction of musical instruments” – Rockstro.   Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck 

Exhibit No. 84

8-key concert flute by Clementi, London

Lent by Messrs. Boosey & Co.

Concert-flute of cocus-wood, with eight cupped keys of silver, and an extra Bb lever for the first finger of the right hand [yet again, as often seen on later German flutes as well as on some of Clinton’s models – A. D.], all on knobs.  This instrument is branded: “C. Nicholson’s Improved”, but it has not the large holes of most of the Nicholson flutes.  The head-joint is turned in rings, like the rails of an “early English” chair, and the narrow silver bands are all embossed.   

Exhibit No. 85

6-key concert flute by Astor and Horwood of London

Lent by the Rev. F. W. Galpin, M.A., F.L.S.

Concert-flute of box-wood, with ivory tips, screw-stopper, tuning slide, and six keys with metal plugs, including the “c’ and c’# keys”.  The elder Nicholson preferred the flutes of Astor to those of any other maker,  and his son, the celebrated Charles Nicholson, considered them superior to those of Potter [i.e., William Henry Potter – A.D.].

Exhibit No. 86 – Six-keyed concert-flute of cocus-wood, with pewter plug foot keys. By Key & Co., 1820.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 87 – One-keyed concert-flute of boxwood, in four pieces. By Millhouse of London, date unspecified.   Lender – Mr. E. Cawley, Bandmaster and Royal Scots.


Exhibit No. 88

13-key flute,  by Koch of Vienna, ante 1827.

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of ebony, with thirteen silver keys, descending to the g of the violin.  The extra five keys of the foot-joint are given: one to the little finger of the right hand; two to the little finger of the left hand, and two to the left thumb.  All the keys are furnished with metal plugs.  The lower end of the flute is turned back, the reverse portion extending from below the b natural hole almost as far as the d’# hole.  Once the property of the well-known Sedlatzek. [see No. 98 below – A.D.]

Exhibit No. 89 – Six-keyed concert-flute of boxwood, with pewter plug foot keys. By Rudall & Rose, c. 1830.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 90 – Eight-keyed concert-flute of cocus-wood, with very small holes. Pewter plug foot keys.  By Sax pere of Brussels, date unspecified. [father of the illustrious Adolphe Sax – A.D.]  Lender – E. Hooker, Esq.

Exhibit No. 91

8-key concert flute by Rudall & Rose, c. 1840.

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of box-wood, with silver tips and cap, and eight silver keys on knobs, five of which have cups with pads, while the three foot-keys have plugs and square plates.  This flute is of Charles Nicholson’s model, that is a “large-holed flute” of its time, about 1840.  There is an excavation for the reception of the left hand first finger, as always used by Nicholson. Although the flute has the ordinary tuning slide and screw-stopper, the cap is embossed in the same manner as that of the “patent head”, which, by means of double screws, enabled the slide and the stopper to be adjusted simultaneously by merely turning the cap.  This patent is dated 1832.

Exhibit No. 92 – Flute of boxwood, in a’ flat, in three pieces, with conoidal bore. By Collard & Collard of London, date unspecified.  Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck

Exhibit No. 93 – One-keyed flute in f’, of boxwood, with one brass key. Maker and date unspecified.  Lender – the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 94 – Flute in a’ flat, in three pieces, with conoidal bore. By C. E. Purday of London, date unspecified.  Lender – M. Cesare Snoeck

Exhibit No. 95 – Fife of brass, in c”.  By Potter, London [precisely which Potter is not specified, but we can probably assume Henry]   Lender – Messrs. Henry Potter & Co.

Exhibit No. 96 – Keyless flute in c”, of boxwood.  Externally looks like a fife, but has a conoidal bore.  By Potter, 30 Charing Cross, London [which makes him out to be Henry Potter and definitely dates this instrument to p. 1858 – A.D.]   Lender – Messrs. Henry Potter & Co.

Exhibit No. 97

1832 ring-keyed conical bored Boehm-system flute by Rudall & Rose, c. 1844.

Lent by H Veysie, Esq.

Concert-flute of cocus-wood, with conoidal bore, silver keys, &c.  This is almost an exact copy of the so-called “Boehm flute” as made by Th. Boehm between the years 1835 and 1846.  It bears little resemblance, either in the positions of the holes or in the fingering, to “Boehm’s newly invented patent flute” of 1831–32  [the “Gerock & Wolf" model, that is – A.D.] , but it differs from Gordon’s flute very slightly in either respect, the arrangement of the holes being on a similar principle, while the fingering is only changed in the following particulars: - Gordon retained the old fingering for G#, at the same time preserving intact his system of open keys; Boehm adopted the “open g#” of Tromlitz and Pottgiesser.  Gordon employed an open d’# key and governed the “c’ and c’# keys” by the little finger of the left hand; Boehm retained the old fingering for c’, c’# and d’#. The d” key, so useful for shakes, was invented by Capeller of Munich, Boehm’s instructor, in or before 1811.  The valuable d”# key, which is not shown in the annexed wood-cut, was invented by Victor Coche of Paris, in or before 1838 (see No. 108).   The machinery of this flute, notwithstanding the old-fashioned screw cups of the keys and the flat brass springs, is an indisputable improvement on that of Gordon’s, but those parts of it which were designed by Boehm have long since fallen into disuse. [may as well kick Boehm again!! – A.D.]  Four of the open finger-holes are furnished with rings instead of the crescents used by Gordon.  [Woodcut included].

Exhibit No. 98

Ward’s Patent Flute, by Cornelius Ward, c. 1845

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of cocus-wood, with conoidal bore and silver fittings.  Ward’s patent of 1842.  The inventor’s object was to construct a flute, on the “open-keyed” system, with greater mechanical facilities than had previously been obtained, but although there are many points of excellence in this instrument, it is not equal, as a whole, to the inventions it was intended to supersede.  In some respects it bears strong resemblance to the flutes of Pottgiesser, particularly in regard to the four open holes for the fingers of the right hand, and the d’# and g# levers for the left-hand thumb. These keys are closed by traction-levers similar to those known to have been employed by Captain Gordon. Ward “in 1839, began to make what is called the Boehm flute in London”, and he was the first in this country to make the valuable and now well-known “needle springs”.  The flute here described has an extra b natural lever for the first finger of the left hand, and extra g# levers for the third and fourth fingers of the right hand.  These additions were suggested by the writer in 1844.  A lever precisely similar in its object to the extra b natural lever of this flute is now in use on the instrument numbered 108. [again, the Rockstro Model (puff! puff!). This is an interesting point – here Rockstro is saying that a design feature of his much later Rockstro model had its origin in a suggestion that he made to Ward in 1844!   – A.D.]  The “stopper” of Ward’s flute is moved by means of an eccentric disc, within the head, which is connected with an index-lever outside. This moves on a dial furnished with numbers which correspond to others on a graduated tuning slide.  [Woodcut included.]

Exhibit No. 99

Ward’s Patent Flute, by Cornelius Ward, c. 1845

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Flute of cocus-wood, in c’, descending by means of two extra keys to a nominal b flat, or a flat as in sound.  The foot joint is turned back on itself similarly to that of the flute numbered 88 [the thirteen-keyed flute by Koch of Vienna – see above.  A.D.].  In other respects, the instrument resembles No, 98 [see above – A.D.]

[This is a most interesting description.  As far as I know, no-one has previously reported the existence of such a flute by Ward.  The lower pitch (c’ as opposed to d’) and the extended foot with its turned-back layout are previously unreported aspects of Ward’s work.  Where is this flute today?? At the Horniman, as part of the Rudall Carte collection presumably? – A.D.]

Exhibit No. 100 – Keyless concert flute of unspecified light brown wood [the examples in the DCM collection are all mahogany – A.D.] with open finger holes arranged chromatically.  “An experiment of the late Dr. Burghley” – Rockstro.  Burghley was “an intimate friend” of Rockstro’s, according to a passing comment in Rockstro’s 1890 “Treatise”. However, Rockstro did not comment in his “Treatise” upon Burghley’s flutes.  Made by Dr. Burghley, 1840’s.  Lender - the Rev. F. W. Galpin

Exhibit No. 101 – Six-keyed alto flute of unspecified light brown wood, having a’ flat as its lowest note. Head joint bent back upon itself to bring the embouchure within reach of the player.  Keys made of ebony. “An experiment of the late Dr. Burghley” – Rockstro.  Made by Dr. Burghley, 1840’s.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 102 – Eleven-keyed bass flute of unspecified light brown wood.  Like No. 101, head joint bent back upon itself to bring the embouchure within reach of the player. Keys made of ebony. “An experiment of the late Dr. Burghley” – Rockstro.  Made by Dr. Burghley, 1840’s.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 103

Boehm cylinder flute, made by Theobald Boehm, c. 1848

Lent by Alfred Hayes, Esq.

Concert-flute of metal, with silver mouth-plate, the so-called “cylinder flute”.  For the restoration of the original cylindrical form to the lower portion of the bore, and the union therewith of a head-joint tapering towards the stopper, Boehm obtained an English patent in the name of John Mitchell Rose (one of the founders of the firm of Rudall, Carte & Co.) in the year 1847. 

The cylindrical part of the bore has a diameter of .748 inch.  The diameter of the head-joint at the mouth-hole varies considerably in different specimens, but Boehm laid down a rule that it should measure .669 at the centre of the mouth-hole, and he considered that the lines of the interior of the head should form a portion of a parabola.  The specimen shown here is of the original pattern, and was made by Boehm, probably about the year 1848.  The fingering is the same as that of the flute numbered 97 [the ring-keyed conoidal Boehm model – see above.  A.D.], but this bore is only adapted for holes of a larger size than the unaided fingers could conveniently cover, therefore it was necessary that every hole should be covered by a key.  Boehm’s machinery for effecting this object is of the rudest construction, and extremely uncertain in its action [may as well clobber the haplessly incompetent Boehm yet again!! A.D.], but, by the successive improvements of various constructors of Paris and London, the “stopping” of the keys has been rendered perfect.  The holes vary irregularly in size from .46 inch, for the c” hole, to .54 inch, for the d’ hole.  The c’# hole measures .535 inch.  The distances between the holes are also extremely irregular, and appear to have been arranged on no system whatever. [again, Boehm was an “ignorant impostor” who knew nothing about flutes and never took any steps towards actually arranging his holes on any rational basis!!  Remember, this was written nine years after Broadwood had finally published Boehm’s own account! And Rockstro had read that book – in his Articles 600 – 603, he included extracts from it relating to Boehm’s  experiments - A.D.]  Until the year 1864 [when the Rockstro Model rendered all other flutes obsolete!! A.D.] the best flutes of this pattern were made with holes, from that for c” natural downwards, of the uniform diameter of .52 inch.

The “crutch” for the left hand thumb is a contrivance invented by Boehm for the purpose of rendering the instrument steady during performance.  It is absolutely unnecessary, and has long been discarded in England, even by the few who ever used it. 

A flute similar to this gained, in spite of its imperfections, the Council-medal of the Great Exhibition of 1851.  [Photograph included].

Exhibit No. 104

Boehm cylinder flute, by Theobald Boehm, c. 1850

Lent by Alfred Hayes, Esq.

Concert-flute, of metal.  Crutch wanting.  Excepting that it has a rude imitation [when did Boehm ever make anything original or elegant?? A.D.] of the “Briccialdi b flat key”, and a hollowed mouth-piece of ivory entirely surrounding the head-joint, this instrument exactly resembles that numbered 103.

Exhibit No. 105

Carte 1851 Patent flute, by Rudall & Rose, undated

Lent by Messrs. Rudall. Carte & Co.

Concert–flute of cocus wood, with improved “cylinder bore”  and silver fittings.  All the finger-holes are covered by keys.  Carte’s “1851 flute”.  The object of the inventor of this flute was to “design a mechanism which should retain the open keys ……of Boehm’s flute and yet secure a greater facility of fingering”, and he claims in his specification that “the fingering is easier than that of the Boehm or of the old system.  It is, at the same time, a smaller departure from the latter”. Mr. Carte gained a prize-medal for this instrument at the Exhibition of 1851. [Either Rockstro was hoodwinked by his friend Carte, or was prepared to go along with him in the general deception.  Carte did not win a prize medal; Rudall & Rose gained a medal for fine workmanship on one of Carte's 1851 model flutes.  Carte appropriated the medal for subsequent promotion of the instrument.]  The construction of the flute will be best understood by an examination of the woodcut (see page 47).  The now well-known “open d” ” first appeared on a flute, patented in 1850, which was the immediate precursor of, and which did not differ greatly from, the flute of 1851.  In this same year, a well-known amateur suggested a nearer approach to the fingering of the old flute, and to this end he had an instrument made with a “closed g# key” and without the open d” key, in place of which he substituted the ordinary closed shake-key, but in other respects the same as the 1851 flute.  In this form, the instrument is still made, but it may be considered to have been superseded by the flute of 1867 (No. 106), which is vastly superior to it. [Rockstro is carefully avoiding mentioning the Radcliff flute here]  [Woodcut included.]

Exhibit No. 106

Carte 1867 Patent flute, by Rudall, Carte & Co., undated.

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of silver, with improved “cylinder bore”.  All the finger-holes are covered by keys.  This instrument, which is generally known as the “1867 patent” (see page 47) combines, in its fingering, the principal features of Mr. Carte’s flute of 1851 (see No. 105) with many of the best points of the so-called “Boehm system”.  [he really has trouble mentioning Boehm without qualification, doesn’t he!??  A.D.]  Its greatest advantages over the flute of 1851 are gained by the abandonment of the long F# key of that instrument (see the engraving), and the substitution of the f natural of the “Boehm flute”.  In tuning and tone it does not differ from other well-constructed flutes of the period.  [Woodcut included.]

Exhibit No. 107

Bass flute by Rudall, Carte & Co.

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

“Bass Flute”, or, more correctly, alto flute, of silver, in a’, descending by means of the “c’# and c’ natural keys” to the G of the violin.  The bore of this flute was designed by Boehm.  The position and size of the holes, as well as the entire mechanism, have been arranged and most ingeniously designed by Mr. Henry W. Carte.  The fingering is that of the flute of 1867.  Length, from the face of the stopper to the open end, 31.63 inches, diameter of the cylindrical part of the bore 1.035 inch.  Diameter of the narrowest part (at the stopper) .906 inch. The finger-holes, with the exception of those for c”# and d”, have a uniform diameter of .744 inch. [it seems that Rudall, Carte & Co. were really into uniform hole sizes at this time – A.D.]  [Woodcut included.]

Exhibit No. 108

Rockstro-model flute, by Rudall, Carte & Co, 1889

Lent by Miss G. M. Rockstro

Concert-flute of ebonite, with improved “cylinder bore” and silver fittings.  “Rockstro’s model”.  All the finger holes are covered by keys, but five of these are perforated in the centre, an old French custom, so that partial opening may be effected when desired. The writer’s chief object in designing this flute was to perfect a system of tuning which he initiated in 1852 and improved in 1858.  The system could only be carried out by giving all the holes, but the three highest, a uniform diameter of approximately .64 inch, and this was done in 1864. This method of tuning is now constantly employed, though not in its full perfection, on flutes with smaller holes. [he’s claiming that his system of equal-sized holes has been generally adopted!  A.D.]  The general fingering of this model is precisely the same as that of the flutes numbered 97 and 103 [the two designs of the incompetent and ignorant Boehm, in other words, and rejecting the “simpler” fingering of his mate Carte!  A.D.], but there  are changes in, and additions to, the mechanism which afford certainty in action and facility in execution.  Chief among the additions are the following: an extra f# lever for the third finger of the right hand [the infamous key that Broadwood and Welch accused Rockstro of having lifted from Boehm’s 1851 oboe – A.D.]; an extra b natural lever for making that note without use of the thumb [the feature that Rockstro claims to have originated with his modifications to Ward’s Patent flute – see 98 above – A.D.]; a large hole, with a closed key connected with the ordinary d” key, which is useful in alternations of d” and d’’’ with certain notes below them; a lever partly closing the c” natural hole by the action of the second finger of the left hand, and thus giving an easy f ’’’# in alternation with e’’’, besides other important advantages.  The instrument exhibited has the latest addition to the flute, namely, “the tubular extension of the c”# hole”, which was contrived by the writer in 1889. The advantages of this may be thus summed up shortly:  the enlargement of the hole greatly improves the c”# as well as the c’’’#, and the added tube renders the hole more generally useful than before, while there are no resultant disadvantages.   [Woodcut included.]   

Exhibit No. 109 – Flute of cocus-wood, with four brass keys, in f’.   By Rudall, Carte & Co., date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 110 – Piccolo of cocus-wood, with four brass keys on knobs, in f”.  Maker and date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 111 – Piccolo of cocus-wood, with six German silver keys on pillars. In e” flat.  Made by Rudall, Carte & Co. at 23 Berners Street. [date unspecified, but the address proves that it was made after 1878 – A.D.]  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 112 – Piccolo of cocus-wood, with six German silver keys on pillars. In f”.  Made by Rudall, Carte & Co. at 23 Berners Street. [again, date unspecified, but the address proves that it was made after 1878 – A.D.]  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 113 – Piccolo of cocus-wood, with six German silver keys on knobs.  In e” flat.  Made by Rudall, Carte & Co. at 23 Berners Street. [once more, date unspecified, but the address proves that it was made after 1878 – A.D.]  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 114 – Octave flute (piccolo in d”) of cocus-wood, with six German silver keys on pillars. Made by Rudall, Carte & Co.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 115 – Octave flute (piccolo in d”) of cocus-wood, with six German silver keys on knobs. Made by Rudall, Carte & Co.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 116 – Piccolo of cocus-wood, with four brass keys on knobs.  In e” flat.  Maker and date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 117 – Piccolo of ebonite, with six German silver keys on pillars. In e” flat. Maker and date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 118 – A set of two flutes and a piccolo, of cocus-wood, with conoidal bore.  “Boehm fingering” (sic), with the open g’# key. By Rudall, Carte & Co. at 23 Berners Street [therefore post 1878 – A.D.].  Lender – Colonel Shaw-Hillier. 

Exhibit No. 119 – Flute of cocus-wood, with eight keys on pillars, in e’ flat.  Conoidal bore. Maker and date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 120 – Flute of ebonite, with four brass keys, in b’ flat.  Maker and date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Exhibit No. 121 – Flute of ebonite, similar to that numbered 120 (above).  Maker and date unspecified.  Lender - Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

[Numbers 109-121 appear to represent a wholesale display of the various “flat key” flutes then being offered by Rudall. Carte & Co. for use in military bands.  The e’ flat “Guards Model” of the 1867 flute had yet to be introduced  – A.D.]

Exhibit No. 122

8-keyed cylinder flute, by Rudall, Carte & Co, undated

Lent by Messrs. Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of cocus-wood, with “cylinder” bore and eight keys on pillars.


Exhibit 123

Radcliff-model flute, by Rudall, Carte & Co., undated

Lent by Rudall, Carte & Co.

Concert-flute of cocus-wood, with conoidal bore.  “Radcliff model”.   This flute is described thus by Mr. John Radcliff: - “The fingering is a near approach to the old system (eight keyed) but it carries out the modern method of venting; through the B and C shake being made by a separate lever, the C hole can be opened when the first finger of the right hand is down.  It is contrived that the duplicate G# hole shall be closed in making the top E natural, so as to prevent the breaking of that note.  This flute was first made in 1870”.  The woodcut upon page 47 shows a silver flute of this model.

[An extremely important description!  It confirms that at least a few wooden Radcliff flutes were made with conical bores, as were their Carte 1851 predecessors. More importantly, this was the version that Rudall, Carte & Co. elected to display at the Exhibition!  Welch tells us that Radcliff himself played a conical bored example into the 1880’s. This evidence supports Welch’s report. A.D.] 

Exhibit 124

Boehm flute, by Boosey & Co, 1890

Lent by Messrs. Boosey & Co.

Concert-flute, “Boehm Model”, of ebonite, with German silver keys, closed G#.  By Boosey & Co., who have kindly supplied the following description:-

“The novelty in this instrument consists in the style of pad.  Hitherto the centres of the pads have been prevented from bulging by being screwed down against a boss in the cup screw carrying a large flat washer.  The pads in this flute are kept in shape by rivets and washers of aluminium, and the boss in the cup is dispensed with.  By this means the pads are kept both very light and very air-tight”.  

[End of the catalog]

So Where are they Now??

It will be seen that the majority of the instruments described above were lent out to the Exhibition by individuals or organizations having substantial collections in their possession at the time.  By far the most significant lenders were undoubtedly Rudall, Carte & Co., who maintained an extensive “museum” of historical flutes at their premises at 23 Berners Street.  It would appear that as major suppliers to the military, Rudall, Carte & Co. took full advantage of the opportunity to display their current product lines as well as the very interesting historical flutes then in their possession.  They were also well represented in the other wind instrument categories, although that does not directly concern us here. 

The main collections represented are as follows:

Rudall, Carte & Co:

Items 55, 61, 65, 70, 71, 76-78, 80, 82,  86, 88, 89, 91, 98, 99, 101, 102, 105-107, 109-117, 119-123 (35 items)

The Rev. F. W. Galpin:

Items 51-54,  58, 59, 63, 68, 79, 85, 93, 100 (12 items)  

Brussels Conservatoire:

Items  42 – 48,  69 (8 items)

M. Cesare Snoeck:

Items 60, 73-75, 81, 83, 92,  94  (8 items)

Henry Potter & Co.

Items 57, 66, 67, 95, 96 (5 items)

Boosey & Co:

Items 62, 84, 124  (3 items)

There were a few additional items lent by private individuals, and the present whereabouts of most of those instruments would now be difficult to determine.  For instance, the formerly-extensive and highly significant Carli Zoeller collection which had been drawn upon extensively by Rockstro when writing his 1890 ”Treatise on the Flute” and which contributed a few items to the Exhibition was in the process of being dispersed at this time following the death of Mr. Zoeller. Tracing the majority of those items today might be a very challenging task.  

But all is not lost!!  The collections of Boosey & Co. and Rudall, Carte & Co. (representing almost half of the items listed above) were subsequently combined when Boosey & Co. (by then Boosey & Hawkes) took over the assets of Rudall, Carte & Co. in 1944. In turn, the historical collections of the Boosey & Hawkes interests have since been consolidated and placed in the keeping of the Horniman Museum in London.  As of 2002, when Terry McGee was in London, the collections were all packed up, but they should hopefully be available for examination at some point.  It will then be possible to re-visit some of Rockstro’s descriptions given above and see just how accurately he described the various exhibits.  Some of the instruments described appear to be almost unique and will handsomely repay study!

The Shaw-Hellier collection (from which a good number of items in other instrument categories were drawn) now forms part of the Edinburgh University Collection and can be studied today in Edinburgh.

The Galpin collection was acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and can be seen by entering Galpin into the search box on their website.


Thanks to Adrian Duncan for introducing us to this rare catalog of flutes, and further opportunity to experience Rockstro's strong views on flute development.



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  Created 7 Oct 2006