Before Rudall met Rose

When George Rudall returned to London from the Napoleonic wars he took up as a flute teacher.  That meant he needed a supply of flutes for his students.  He turned to established maker John Willis for these.  The flute below is marked Geo. Rudall, Willis Fecit (Latin, literally: Willis made it.)  Willis also supplied similarly marked flutes to dealers such as Thomas Williams and Clementi & Co.

George Rudall, Willis Fecit, c 1820.  
(From the McGee Flutes Research Collection)

The flute is in cocus, with silver rings and keys.  The head and barrel appear a little lighter in colour, probably due to the finish being impaired after attention to cracks in these lined sections.  

The head was probably originally unlined, as the maker's mark:

Geo Rudall
5 Clement's Inn

appears just above but partly obliterated by the lower ring.  The customary "London" is missing from below the address.  

An otherwise very similar instrument in the Horniman Museum in London has an unlined one-piece head, while one in the Bate has a slide where the maker's mark is suspiciously close to the top of the barrel, perhaps again suggesting that the head and barrel were once one.   Examples in Edinburgh and Washington appear to have original slides.

The embouchure hole is almost round at 10.5mm by 11.  The cap may not be original and does not seem to fit particularly well the dimensions and style of the rest of the instrument.

Willis' mark can be seen at the end of the foot (right).

First or second generation?

This is a flute that could be argued to be a first generation design.  Supporting that view we have very small finger holes, leather flap pads (albeit round and not square) and the vaulted linkage to the low C key.  Cocus, metal rings and a shorter scale argue for the later category.  "Transitional" would be a fair reading, and would fit the date well.

The footjoint, showing the vaulted link to the lowest key.  Note also the use of flat leather key plates for the lowest two notes, whereas pewter plugs were becoming more common.  The flat leather flaps close onto flat bottomed recesses.  The silver slot liners are an attractive feature.

A close-up of the low C pad shows how prettily the keywork is contrived. Of interest is the crystalline brown substance where the two shafts meet.  An attempt to quieten the action?

Note also the pin near the base of the block, presumably intended as a strengthening device.  This feature is often seen on later Rudall and Rose flutes.  In this case the pin appears to be silver and is certainly unaffected by a magnet.

View of the upper c and Bb levers.  Note the unusual additional support block close to the pad on the c key.  Note also that the c hinge block is a replacement and does not have the slot liners featured elsewhere.  A difficult to explain feature is the neatly flattened area below the middle of the c key, visible here just above the Bb key pad.

Overall, a most attractive and interesting flute.  I will be bringing you more information when I get to analyse the operation of the instrument.

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