Sunday, 28 December 2014


Well, first of all, a Happy Xmas to all my readers, or as we'd say around here nollaig shona díbh go leir.
Finished a set of whistles the other day using a new material, well new to me anyway. In fact it's a very hard vulcanised rubber, dating from 1839, which was used for all sorts of purposes, including flutes, in its day.
Rockstro, he of  "A Treatise on the Flute "fame, was a keen advocate of the material:

Ebonite embraces more good qualities than any other material ever used for the manufacture of flute tubes.  This valuable and well known compound, often called vulcanite, consists of India -rubber, sulphur and lead, mixed with a black pigment and subjected to great heat.  Its first employment in the construction of flutes is not of recent date, for in the great exhibition of 1851 I saw one that was made of it.  This was however, but a very rude instrument and it attracted little attention.  About twenty years afterwards Messrs Rudall, Rose Carte & Co. undertook the manufacture of ebonite flutes, and these instruments are now more popular in England than any others.  If we compare the qualities of ebonite with the list of requirements of a flute-tube, we shall find that it leaves little to be desired.
Firstly, then in the matter of endurance it may be pronounced perfect for it is practicably indestructible.
Secondly, as it is absolutely non-absorbent of moisture no change in the dimensions of the tube ever occurs, and a metal head-ling is unnecessary.
Thirdly, an ebonite flute invariably improves by judicious use.
Fourthly, this substance possesses just the amount of rigidity necessary for the retention of the enclosed air-column in its proper shape and dimensions, while its own vibrations sympathise so readily with those of the air within, that the sound is produced with as little expenditure of the breath as on a metal flute.  This latter circumstance renders ebonite flutes particularly suitable for the use of ladies, and for whom none is better adapted.  The excellent and brilliant performer Miss Cora Cardigan ( Mrs. Louis Honig ), known as the "Queen of Flute-Players," always plays on an ebonite flute.  The charming quality of the tone that this talented lady elicits from her instrument is too well known to need any panegyric in these pages.
Fifthly, this material is so bad a conductor of heat that ebonite flutes are far less affected than any others, in their pitch, by alteration of temperature.
Sixthly, its appearance excels that of the finest ebony, and it generally retains its original lustre with very little attention, though sometimes it loses its extreme blackness.
The practical consequences of all these theoretical perfections is that a flute made of ebonite possesses great endurance combined with capabilities for producing power, softness, volume, brilliancy, sweetness, clearness, flexibility, and general variety of tone, in a greater degree than one of any other material, a slight reservation being necessary in the case of the single quality of power, and if this is a trifle less than that of a cocus wood flute with metal head-lining, the other advantages so immeasurably outweigh the exceedingly slight inferiority in this respect, that ebonite must be pronounced the veritable beau ideal of the material for the tube of a flute.

Not sure that I agree with all of that, (especially the length of the last sentence!), and it would make one wonder if Rockstro had a commercial interest in ebonite. It is a useful material though, and the samples I was sent by Schonberger Ebonite I've been experimenting with. First attempt is the whistle heads, which look great. ( I think anyway ). Here's a couple of pics:

At this stage the plug, which you can't see in this photo, is still delrin, but I've been modifying the brass pin which keeps everything together, so that it's pushed into place and held there by friction.
This enables me to make each end slightly domed and polished, and makes a much simpler job of tuning the outside of the head to an even, cosmetic, finish.
I'm considering making a post mounted flute from the black sample I've received.
I'll keep ye posted...

Sunday, 2 November 2014

New Machines, at last!

Summer has a habit of overtaking one in various ways, and this summer was no exception. Here, in the south West I'm looking out the window at the first wet day ( in the sense of it raining continually all day) since the middle of April. It's been the finest, and driest summer for many, many years.
The up shot of all this is that I spent a lot more time in the garden and doing outside work in general than would normally be the case. We also had the problem of four large trees which were blown down on Stephen's day last year, and which brought down a large garden wall with them when they went.
 The dry summer allowed us to bring in the necessary machinery to clear all this and replace the wall.

Other things, getting around to flutemaking, also conspired to hold things back, and possibly explains the absence of any post since the middle of July.
Major among these was the replacement of the two major machines in the workshop.
At some stage, early in the year, I came to the realisation that my old workhorse of an engineering lathe, the Colchester Chipmaster, was going to have to go sooner rather than later. Working with tools over a long period, it's really hard to see the gradual deterioration in accuracy and efficiency that occurs little by little day by day. It wasn't until I used my neighbour's Harrison M300, for a reason that I now can't remember, that I saw the degree of deterioration in my own machine.
Around the same time I was increasingly frustrated with the performance of the small mill/drill, and also the fact that my large mill, although wonderful in every other way, had no quill, and therefore couldn't be used for the accurate drilling that the small machine wouldn't do.

Buying second hand machinery, and I can only speak of the Irish experience, can be a bit of a dose to be honest. There's lots available, but mainly through auction and on-line selling sites sites. This usually means that you have to buy sight unseen, and very often are not able to see a machine running. The other problem, this time particular to flutemakers, or at least those working on the same scale as I am, is that most of the machinery available is too big, if not for the type of work, then for the workshop space available. By means of an inquiry to one of the on-line buying/selling sites, I came across a place in Longford which had exactly what I was looking for in terms of a large selection of second hand machines that could be seen, many in operation.
As it happened I was scheduled to go to Leitrim for the launch of the John McKenna project, so I took the opportunity to call to the village of Kenagh on my way, it not being a place on the way to anywhere really, or at least not any where that I'd normally be going. To my delight, I discovered that they were expecting to get in the two exact machines that I had been looking for. These were the Excell Pinnacle Top Aid Turret mill, and the Harrison M300 lathe.
Cutting a long story short, I managed to sell my own machines, and buy the two "new" ones and get them installed in the workshop by late August.
Here they are... the mill

 and the lathe...

and that's my Harrison Union Graduate wood lathe in the background. You can't beat Harrison!
By coincidence the people I bought the machines from were the Harrison brothers whose company is Kenequip.
I couldn't recommend these guys highly enough, they were a delight to deal with, sourcing the machines, delivering them, and even helping with the installation.
I don't know myself.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Mick Woods-The Forgotten Virtuoso

What with all the to-do about the John McKenna book and CD release, Conal mentioned to me a recording that we had often talked about, by a player who is often mentioned in connection with John McKenna, and no wonder since the recording is called "A Tribute to John McKenna". I thought I had a  copy of the original vinyl LP, but a search failed to turn it up, so Conal gave a me a CD copy of it that Sean Gilrane had given him.
Small world.
Anyway, I hadn't listened to it for years, and now I wonder why? It's an amazing album of wonderfully rhythmic and technically accomplished playing, and it's a damn shame that it's no longer available. A quick search on the net shows no copy available for sale anywhere currently.
 I wonder what it would take to organise a re-release?

The full details of the recording if you want to try and track a copy down are:

MICK WOODS with guitar A Tribute to John McKenna, Inchecronin, England, INC 7420

Searching in the ITMA online catalogues shows up another few recordings where he played with others or on individual tracks. See those here. I don't think they have any sound files online, but of course you can here them all by visiting Merrion Square.

I started to make a few enquiries about the man himself, with the intent of writing a short biog, but on consulting the flute playing oracle Sean Gilrane, he referred me to a detailed account of the man that was published in the Leitrim Guardian, which you can find here.

Mick Woods is still alive, although not playing anymore, but is still in excellent health, and drinking a few pints!

On a different tack, I finally got around to dipping my toe into the social media world in the form of Twitter. It's more of a personal account but does have occasional  musical/flute content

Follow me @CuilAodhaHammy

Monday, 2 June 2014

Cruinniú on the Radio

God! What's come over me...three posts in one day!
There was a nice little mention for the Cruinniú on an RTÉ Radio program called Sunday Miscellany on Sunday past. You can listen to it on the Radio Player, it's about 40 mins into the program.
 Just one point, Cruinniú na bhFliúit runs from the first, not the third, Thursday after Easter each year.

The Ivory Ban

There's been quite a bit of caffuffle about this recently, but I've been trying to find out a few hard facts about it, since it affects me both as an instrument maker, and a musician who travels with instruments that might be affected.
Basically the US Government is on the point of introducing legislation which will control the movement of certain animal and plant products in and out of the country. ( and within the US, in some states, the right to trade in such materials )
These are basically materials derived from species that are listed under CITES...Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.   
Of course the basic idea behind this legislation is sound and morally unimpeachable. We must protect all species that are endangered, especially those that are being exploited for monetary gain.
The problem arises, for musicians in the way this new legislation might be interpreted.
From the flute players point of view, the two materials which may give difficulty are ivory and rosewood, and it doesn't require that the whole instrument is made from rosewood or ivory... a small piece of either, even as inlay, incurs the ban...the ban being that unless you can prove that the material in question is antique ( over 100 years, verified imported through certain ports, and authenticated by a qualified appraiser), or that the material was legally acquired before a certain date ( for ivory it's Feb 26th 1976 ) then you cannot import or export the instrument to the US, and if you can't meet these criteria then there is a possibility of the instrument being confiscated and destroyed.
You can find the relevant information as put out by the authorities here, and if you google it, there are lots of discussions on music blogs, discussion boards and lists ongoing.
The solution to this is that one is supposed to be able to get a passport for individual instruments, which will allow a musician to travel with an instrument made from or containing the banned materials.
Forms for the passports are available here.
If you read the above links, there are lots of issues that remain unclear. It seems that you may need a separate passport for animal and plant material...they don't seem to have taken into account that they will occur together in many instruments. Verifying that it is antique or pre CITES would seem to be very difficult, many people would not have the relevant documentation, even if it existed, and who is a qualified appraiser? Also the forms seem to be set up for US citizens and no one else.
I E-mailed them at the contact provided seeking clarification a few weeks ago but got nothing back.
Finally, I think what frightens most musicians is that it will be the customs officials at the point of import who will decide if an instrument is legal or not.
 Can you tell the difference between the twenty of so species of rosewood, only one of which is banned? I can't, and I'm working with such timbers for the last 35 years. Can you (or they) tell the difference between elephant ivory, which is illegal, and mammoth ivory which is legal.
Until a few days ago I couldn't do that I can! Have a look here.
For the moment, I'd advise anyone who has any instrument which might possibly incur the ban to leave it at home, until this gets sorted out, and I greatly fear that it is going to take the loss of a very valuable and possibly historically important instrument, to get to that point.
Of course, as traditional flute players playing mainly modern instruments it's not as relevant to us as it is to pipers...they're in big trouble.

More RTTAtuner

A bit more about the RTTATuner which might be of use to readers. Dan mailed me the other day after seeing the last blog with a few tips about using the tuner for flutes which in thought I'd pass on as hopefully being of use to all flute players.

"...................... an updated version of the RTTATuner app is now available, with an added “export” function. It exports an expanded view of the tuning display, showing all the octaves that you normally might have to scroll to get to. Text is also included in the export, in case you need to cut and paste the results into another program. Another things it improves on is that it stops the iPhone from going to sleep while recording. I’m about to announce it on some of the newsgroups.

I also wanted to give you a “heads up” about something. In your blog, the screenshot shows four octaves, starting with octave number three. I’m assuming the flute is a standard “D” flute and not for example a cannon going down to low A… The convention I use for octaves (there are a couple of different ways of numbering them) is that D4 is low D on a flute. So here’s what I’m seeing in your screenshot: an octave, from low D (D4) to middle D (D5), was played on the flute. The tuning is excellent and consistent. There are also some notes apparently registering in the 3rd octave. They must have been something else - I find that the male voice kind of spans a lot of the third octave, or maybe some outside noise of some kind. You can see from the thickness of the bars that there is a lot more variation in the pitch than was picked up in the flute itself; the noises were less “musical".

Why did this happen, and what can you do about it?

Firstly, the “min clarity” setting should be on 0.90 or 0.95. The higher it is, the more “musical” the tone needs to be before it is registered. I think I had 0.9 as the default. If you go much lower than that, then the program starts picking up random hums and noises, and registers a lot of notes that weren’t played, especially in the lower octaves. 0.95 should work OK with the flute, and I think might then filter out any talking, etc.

Secondly, for flutes, you can set the “Min Displayed Octave” setting to 4 and “Max Displayed Octave” to 6 - in which case all that extra noise won’t be picked up anyhow because octave 3 won’t show up.

Thirdly, you can set the “Min Readings” setting to 10, or even 20, or more - this will require that a note needs to register a fair few times before it shows up on the display. It stops little “blips” from showing up e.g. if you do an ornament or something.

Fourthly, you’re obviously better off avoiding noisy environments.

Finally, you’re better off it you don’t leave the thing running: press record, play something, and then press stop.

I just wanted to clarify this, as I don’t want any flute makers to be given the wrong idea! I’ve tested the app using an iPhone 4, iPhone 5S and iPad - all work pretty consistently, no problems and I’m happy with the results. If you find that you can’t get it to work well, I’d start worrying about the mic on your phone, I guess… But from what I see, the app does pick up the flute nicely, it’s just picking up other stuff as well, in that particular screenshot.

I'm wondering about what Dan said about the third octave notes being "something else". I think there my be a possibility that they may be overtones or other harmonic components? I'll find out and report back.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


What! Two posts only days apart! But I just had to let people know about the new tuning app which Dan Gordon has designed for iPhone, and which I've been playing with for the last few days.
There are already many good tuner apps, such as Cleartune, which I use, or used pretty much all the time, but they only allow you to measure the pitch of one note at a time.
The danger with this is something that I've harped on about in workshops for years. With the flute, pitch is such a volatile thing, so easily changed by temperature, humidity, blowing pressure, and embouchure, that to simply blow a note into a tuner and declare yourself in tune is not really an option.
Commonly, in traditional music circles anyway, the player asks for an A, ( not the best option as a pitch centre for Irish music at the best of times), tunes to it, and then discover that when they begin to play that they are still not in tune. This process can be repeated several times with no better result, because the basic error is that the player is blowing the note differently ( commonly with a different blowing pressure) when tuning than when playing.
The great thing about the RTTATuner is that it samples the notes as you actually play a tune, many times per second, and then gives you a read-out which shows how the pitch of each note (octaves are distinguished) averages out over the time played.
Here's a sample using a keyless flute I was working on yesterday:

This is a screenshot from the phone, which at the moment is the only way you can export the data visually. You do this by pushing the home button and the on/off button at the same time, which saves the screen in photos, and you can then mail this to yourself.
You can see from the above that this flute is fairly much bang on in tune, bar the A and B in the lower octave, which require a little work. Promised updates will make export of data much easier.
There has been a lot of discussion about this app both on Chiff and Fipple and the Earlyflute discussion list, but I think the best thing to do is simply to get it and play with it, and learn more than you ever thought possible about:

How your tuning when you play can vary from day to day, and even tune to tune. With a simple system flute you'll see that internal tuning varies according to what key you're playing in.

with old flutes, just how horrific the internal tuning actually is!

How much slide movement affects the pitch of different notes differently

How by varying your embouchure you can improve the internal tuning ( and overall pitch) of certain flutes

the realtime effect of cork position on octave tuning and pitch.

in short, endless hours of fun....

And of course wearing my makers hat, this is a dream come true.
I should add that the Flutini program did just about the same thing, but written as it was for PC, the Mac version was a source of endless frustration, which didn't have all the features, and was constantly thanks, Dan Gordon, the flute world is beholden to you.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

McKenna's Flute

Progress on both fronts, restoration, and provenance of the McKenna flute.
When it first arrived, and in fact even before that from the photos that I had of it, one idea I had was that this might well be a composite instrument, with ivory head a later edition.
Closer examination soon disabused me of that idea. The mounts on the head matched those on the rest of the flute. The diameter of the head was unlike that of the "German" flutes that I had thought might be it's source. The embouchure, although now distorted by the crack also appeared different to those of the German flutes.
In response to my appeal on this blog, several people got in contact with useful leads, most notably American maker Jon Cornia, and Italian afficionado Francesco Collissimo.
Jon had alerted Francesco, via Facebook,  to the work of the American maker Asa Hopkins, and his apprentice and successor Camp, and produced these photos of their work.

The similarities between the instrument to the left and the McKenna flute are remarkable.
The mounts, the silver sheathing of the head cap, the pewter plug on the Eb key, and the general lines and style of the keys and block work all point in the direction of a flute from this workshop.

Also this image of a flute by Hopkins, confirms the general impression.

This flute again points to the Hopkins/Camp workshop with the shape of the key touches on the short F and low C and C# identical to the McKenna flute.
Again note the similarity of the squarish blockwork.

Although of course it is impossible to state definitively that the McKenna flute is a flute from this workshop, at the moment it's certainly the best guess, and I have a gut feeling that it's correct.
I'd like to see one of the original Camp/Hopkins flutes in my hands though before I'd be absolutely sure.

The New Langwill index gives the following entry:

Hopkins, Asa ( b Northfield / CT 2 February 1779; d New Haven / CT 27October 1838)
WWI fl Litchfield / CT 1829-1837.

From c1810 a successful clock-maker, developing water-powered machines for mass production methods, using interchangeable parts; 1829 established WWI workshop at a locality neat Litchfield, building a dam and factory on the Naugatuck river, which 1830-75 became known as 'Fluteville', where large quantities of flute, clarinet, later fife, flageolet were produced; 1832 in partnership with J.M Camp; 1837 retirement of Hopkins; 1837-39 Camp proprietor, now as Camp and Hopkins; 1839-67 Firth & Hall proprietors; bought by J.A. Hall. 1955 Fluteville village was raised by flood and subsequent Government requisition of the area for a flood control project.

ADDRESS: 1829-37; shop along Naugatuck river.

The mystery remains, if it is a flute from this source, why did it remain unstamped?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

John McKenna's Flute

Some times it's not the flute itself, but who owned it that's important.
For all Irish traditional flute players the name John McKenna jumps out at them in the same way as Michael Coleman does for fiddle players. He is one of the great sources of traditional music, not just on the flute,  and his many recordings, made in New York between 1925 and 1934 are still referenced by all the great players of today. You can find out more about the man himself here, and in fact it was when I was in contact with Sean Gilrane of the John McKenna Traditional Music Society, that the following story emerged.
In 1985 In paid a visit to the US, and one of the people I met, and who showed me great hospitality, was a Kerryman, long resident in upper NY State, called John McAuliffe, a man with a passionate interest and deep knowledge of traditional flute playing.
Fast forward to 2009, when I got an E-Mail from John telling me about a flute that had belonged to his uncle Joe, and which he had gotten from John McKenna.
Here's a photo of John's father and two uncles, flute players all.

We exchanged E-mails about this and some old recordings that he had, for sometime, but then in the way that things have a habit of doing, it got put on a longer and longer finger...until late last year when, wearing my Cruinniú na bhFliúit hat, I was talking to Sean Gilrane, who was telling me about the JMTMS project on John McKenna, and I happened to mention that I knew where McKenna's flute was. Cue extreme excitment, until I realised that I had lost all contact with John, and due to computer crashes, had no record of his E-Mail or the photos that he had sent me. However thanks to Mac and TimeMachine ( and Steve Jobs, to be fair) I eventually retrieved the mails and we were able to re-establish contact with John. Here's what he says about the flute in his own words:

" About that flute, well I will try to explain, The flute belonged to my uncle Joe Mc Auliffe, He was a close friend of Jack Mc Kenna, Mc Kenna spent many nights up at Joe's  place in Kingsbridge road in the Bronx, playing music.
Joe was a flute player, as was my father John and also Tim, (actually if you look in the search engine for Moyvane you will see an old picture of the three of them with flutes, taken in the Bronx in the late fifties) Anyway, when Joe's flute was stolen after a music night in a bar in Queens NY, he pestered Mc Kenna (who had a few flutes) to sell him that flute after he had it on loan from him for a few months. Mc Kenna wasn't inclined to sell as it was one of his better flutes and one that he had used on his recordings, but finally Joe got the flute. My father relayed all this to me when I asked him about that flute, he got the flute from Joe in 1970 when Joe was in poor health and not playing anymore, my father was living in the Bronx at that time, Joe and his wife moved back to Abbeyfeale in 1972, and he passed away in 1973. My father moved back to Moyvane also in 1972 and took that flute with him. He also had another flute that he got in London years before that. Anyway my father passed away, and I brought that flute back here to the US. a few years ago"

To cut a long story short, the flute even though playing well when John got it originally, was beginning to suffer from a few problems mainly caused by a bad crack in the head, and the head liner coming unsoldered, so I proposed to restore it, so that it could be used in connection with the launch of the McKenna CD, and also Cruinniú na bhFliúit.
The flute arrived to me in March, and here it is....

So for the moment there are two things that interest me about the flute. Firstly, how to repair that nasty crack in the head, and secondly who made it. It's a very good quality flute, cocus wood, silver keywork, and excellent workmanship. But it has no maker's stamp. 
I'll follow up with the progress on both fronts, and would welcome any input from anyone who might have any insights.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Flute Prices...and another Monzani

I'm happy to be able to say that I'm so busy in the workshop and with workshop related projects that finding the time to do these blogs is difficult.
 That said, there are some things that you just have to blog about.
I've been talking about the prices of flutes, old and new, but mainly old, as something which doesn't appear to have much logic to it. I've recently come across a couple of sources which give us more evidence of just how expensive or cheap flutes were at certain periods. The first source is a CD of old flute catalogues that I found on the internet. They're mostly late 19th century continental catalogues, with a few English ones thrown in. Here's a page from Samuel Barnett & Sons catalogue from 1911.

What's interesting about this, to me anyway, is the fact that English companies were still offering cone bore flutes as late as this, ( Rudall Carte were as well) and note that Pratten and Siccama models were still available. Also note the difference to the price that having sterling silver keys made. ( last item on page )

So although it's difficult to accurately estimate the value of money in those days as compared to our own, I think one could safely say that £15 10s 0d was a considerable amount of money in 1911...and this for a flute from a very minor maker. ( Samuel Barnett were the manufacturers of instruments stamped John Grey & Sons "Dulcetta")

So have a look at this from just under 100 years earlier.

I didn't think this was readable in a smaller size, so forgive the large image.
Anyway you can see that, for example, a six keyed flute was 12 guineas, which I would argue was considerably more, proportionately, than the £15 10s in 1911. I must do some further research to try and put these prices in context, but it is difficult. A recent article I read gave two totally different values for the comparitive value of the currency in a specific year, without apparently noticing!

But this is all just a teaser allow me to describe another Monzani which I've come across recently, and which is the source of the price list above. Flutes which have their original cases are reasonably common, if those cases have their fittings much less so, but flutes that have their original documentation are as rare as a fulfilled election promise.
This flute came with the price list above which also describes Monzani's patent for joints using cork lapping and silver linings to the sockets. The other side of the page reveals this:

As far as I can make out, the cheaper prices on this side of the page are for flutes lapped with thread, without the silver lined joints.

As if this wasn't enough there was also this:

And when I looked carefully in the case, what did I find but:-
the original screwdriver designed to allow the player to unscrew the pad washers and install new pads.
There was also the original wax box made of cocus wood with a screw top, holding what could possibly be the original wax...but that's impossible to say for sure.

One of the things that attracted me to this flute in the first place was the amount of original documentation that came with it, in particular the final document, which while obviously not part of the original documentation, is almost contemporary, dating from 1834 ( I'll discuss the date of the flute itself later). It's a copy of a little booklet (the photo below is almost exactly the actual dimensions ) which was produced by W.N. James, better known as the author of " A Word or Two on the Flute".
 I thought it was a bit strange that I hadn't come across this before, and a little online research soon showed why. There is only one, possibly two copies of it listed in all the major libraries that I could get access to online ( which is the vast majority of them, I believe [ see Worldcat ] ) The one definite copy is in the British Library, the possible one is listed as among a collection of personal papers held in an Ivy league college in the US, but searching in the actual listing of the collection fails to reveal it. I must write to them to try and pin that down. Neither is there any copy currently available through any of the antiquarian booksellers accessible through Bookfinder, nor has any copy been sold at any of the major auction houses since the mid seventies (not that a copy was sold then, the data is just not available)
When I actually got my hands on the flute, I discovered, as you can see below that in fact this copy is the second edition of 1834. The first edition is 1829. Checking again, I discovered that this may be the only known copy of the second edition, as the searches outlined above failed to locate any copy.
Always dangerous to be too definitive, I think it's probably safe to say that this is the only copy that has come to public notice.

Now to the flute itself. The original pics I had of it showed what appeared to be a fairly standard seven keyed flute of the period, even if the case was unusual.

What I couldn't figure out was what were the wooden rings/plugs at the left hand end of each joint?
Next photo explains all.

You can see here that in fact there are wooden plugs which fit into the end of each joint, and from the hemp lapping on each of them, I conclude that they were meant to fit snugly, if not airtightly ( if that is a word, as Ross O'Carroll-Kelly would say!) Each plug hinges on the edge of the case for ease of removal of the flute. Function? Currently unknown, I'd have to say. I've never seen the likes before. Could it be possible, and the idea just came to me as I write this, that the function was to prevent the flute from drying out too quickly in the case, by sealing the end of each section of the bore. Seems a bit far fetched though.

In my first examination of the flute, I gradually became aware that the dimensions were a bit odd. It seemed, in comparison to the other couple of Monzanis that I have, thicker and less elegant. The early Monzanis are known for their fine workmanship and lines. Out with the calipers, to discover that the head diameter was 29.72mm in comparison to the 27.4 of the "standard issue". The bore of the head is 20.4/19.64 at the tenon. My first instinct was...this is a Bb...but the length seemed wrong, only slightly longer than the standard. So out with the tuner, which showed a "bottom D" slightly sharp of approximately the same extent that the concert pitch flutes are sharp of modern a=440.

I have to admit I'm totally mystified by this. Looking at the pitches listed in the price list that came with the flute, it doesn't seem to match any of them. The most obvious possibility is the Bb tenor flute, but as far as I'm aware the Bb flutes of the period had a six finger note of Bb, and the nomenclature which calls a concert pitch flute a flute in C because of it's lowest playable note using the foot joint keys was not in use at this period. Using that type of description, this would be a flute in Bb since that's the lowest playable note. ( taking historic pitch difference into account)
Against this is the appearance of existing Monzani flutes that are listed in collections as being in Bb, which have totally different proportions. ( see the DCM collection catalogue).
I'm very open to suggestions about any of this, but for the moment it seems that like the Flutists' Catechism, this flute appears to be unique.
When I get the time ( hah!) I'll post further measurement and pitch details.
One final nerdish detail. The address on the flute is 24 Dover St. and the name Monzani and Co., but Langwill lists the Dover St address as being under the name Monzani & Hill.