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Revolutionary War Flute 
 

Revolutionary War Flute

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Revolutionary War Flute    00:21 on Monday, August 02, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jefe86
(3 points)

Hi All!

New member here. I have a flute I was hoping someone could help me with. The family legend is that it belonged to a famous Captain during the American Revolutionary War. There is a lot of documentation linking things to this family (old letters, documents, deeds, etc). Does this flute look period correct from the mid to late 1700's? I have been unable to find any markings anywhere on the flute, I have gone over every spot. Maybe if someone recognizes it they could shed some light on it for me or perhaps I am looking in the wrong spot for markings. See photobucket link for pictures.
http://s1032.photobucket.com/albums/a410/jefe86/Revolutionary%20War%20Flute/
Thanks in advance for all your help.

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Re: Revolutionary War Flute    15:31 on Monday, August 02, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Bilbo
(1327 points)

.......... The family legend is that it belonged to a famous Captain during the American Revolutionary War. There is a lot of documentation linking things to this family (old letters, documents, deeds, etc). Does this flute look period correct from the mid to late 1700's?

Pretty much. They began adding more keys just a few years after this mid-late 1700s flute style. One issue is that there have been a lot of copies of similar flutes from that period made rather recently. On the + side, your flute looks rather used. On the - side there appears to be a crack in the head joint at the tenon and possibly the ivory ring at the head joint tenon is missing. The string idea was used on wood winds some prior to universality of cork joints. One could adjust the string with wrapping or unwrapping of it. One could 'grease' the joint with beeswax or something similar that also served to keep the string in place.

I have been unable to find any markings anywhere on the flute, I have gone over every spot. Maybe if someone recognizes it they could shed some light on it for me or perhaps I am looking in the wrong spot for markings.


Generally, markings wold be in similar places to modern flutes. The head joint should have something just above the tenon(Connecting to the body) on the same side as the mouth embouchure hole OR on the upper body joint between the threads and the first finger hole. There may also be something on the underside of the head joint (opposite the embouchure hole) near to the crown.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

Another issue that isn't representative of authenticity is the pitch.
If it's A=440 (Fingering= 120/000 D# opt.) then I'd tend to believe that it's a good, but modern copy.
If it's in a lower pitch A=395 or A=415 and the joints are warped into oval shapes then it really could be old. But I'm not saying that it is. Another issue is that many of these older flutes of this type had more than one left hand joint so that they could adjust the pitch...somewhat. If yours doesn't have other extra body joints, it means nothing really.
Here is an example of this type of flute with a few keys added:
http://www.soubeyranflutes.com/en/catalog/kirst-classique
If one were interested in playing such a flute, I'd recommend getting a copy as they are fairly well made these days. Information is readily available and there are instructors of the Traverso/Baroque Flutes.
Another question would be, Of what value is this instrument? Probably not much unless it were owned by a very famous historical individual. Someone in my distant family has a spiral-shaped wood cane with G.W.'s initials on it. It was given to an ancestor who was a personal cook at Valley Forge for the General. I never heard if it was of any value.
~bilbo
N.E. Ohio

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Re: Revolutionary War Flute    21:25 on Tuesday, August 03, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

musicman_944
(255 points)

To research your flute, I'd recommend searching the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection at the Library of Congress. I did a quick search for "1 key" and found several similar flutes. Here are a few links with descriptions. They're not an exact match but are similar.

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?dcm:5:./temp/~ammem_6hcv::
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?dcm:11:./temp/~ammem_6hcv::
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?dcm:8:./temp/~ammem_6hcv::
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?dcm:17:./temp/~ammem_6hcv::

If you want to search some more for yourself, start here:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/dcmquery.html

<Added>

As Bilbo points out in the next message, links into specific instruments in the Library of Congress site do not work. Use the search link and type in "1 key". The flutes I was referencing in the query results are: 5, 11, 8, and 17.

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Re: Revolutionary War Flute    06:13 on Wednesday, August 04, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

Bilbo
(1327 points)

I'd recommend searching the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection at the Library of Congress.

Hi Musicman_944,
I would have also suggested the DCM collection but their web setup isn't "Link Friendly". One could mention a few makers such as F.G.A. Kirst for a starting point of a maker of a typical style.

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Re: Revolutionary War Flute    08:34 on Wednesday, August 04, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

JButky
(657 points)

You might find some interesting info here as well.

http://www.oldflutes.com/baroq.htm#4

You might also try and contact someone like Terry Mcgee
http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/classical.html

Or David Shorey
http://www.antiqueflutes.com

Ardal Powell can probably help you identify it also
http://www.baroqueflute.com/baroque.flute.html

Good Luck,
Joe B

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Re: Revolutionary War Flute    11:33 on Sunday, August 08, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jefe86
(3 points)

Thank you! Yes, it does play well. It has a little damage but it doesn't seem to effect it. I do not play the flute, however my father in law does and it sounded really neat. I decided to drop a couple hundred dollars and pay a well known flute appraiser to take a look at it, and perhaps try to help tie it for me to the famous Rev. War captain that it supposedly was owned by. He has lots of manuscript copies and letters/documents from the war so I'm hoping he can find something. I was able to find all of the family lineage information linking their relations to the captain and I have a lot of paperwork showing other items and who owned what, but still searching for that elusisve letter or writing that says "Here's his flute" so that way there will be no doubt. I'll let you guys know how the appraisal turns out.

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Re: Revolutionary War Flute    14:01 on Friday, August 13, 2010 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jefe86
(3 points)

Decided against the appraisal unless I can find more documentation to try to tie it to the Capt, as I was also thinking about getting it restored, like you just mentioned. I do want to sell it, anyone interested in buying it before I drop any more cash on it?

   

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