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Research into early nineteenth-century woodwind making

The initial data recorded here pertains to a number of makers or manufacturers in the first half of the nineteenth century who began to give their instruments individual serial numbers. From this information it is possible to estimate survival rates of instruments, suggest dates or sequences of production, and to identify trends as instrument designs or the demands of the market change.

The first dataset to be published here relates to the output of the Charles 'Nicholson's Improved' model of flute, made initially under the supervision of Thomas Prowse senior and sold by Clementi & Co. When Clementi - by then in his late seventies - retired as senior partner in the company in 1831, he handed responsibility to Collard & Collard, who further divested the publishing related parts of the Company in 1834. At about this time the production of flutes moved to the Hanway Street flute manufactory established by Thomas Prowse junior. The records of extant 'Nicholson's Improved' flutes are available here:

Extant Nicholson flutes

Thomas Prowse junior made flutes which were not 'Nicholson's Improved' model, some of which exhibit some similarities to the official 'Nicholson's Improved' instruments, but many of which were cheaper, and less well-made. Prowse also made other wind instruments, particularly clarinets, and bought in yet other instruments, such as accordions, from other makers (such as Lachenal) which were 'rebadged' as Prowse products.


I will shortly supplement these records with similar ones for the workshop established by John Willis, initially at 3 Angel Court, The Strand, and subsequently at 25 Villiers Street. This was one of the most important manufactories of the first half of the nineteenth century, involving the businesses of Willis & Goodlad, Goodlad & Co, Henry Wylde and Ingram & Morland. These businesses in turn supplied a number of other flute dealers and music sellers with instruments. The list of extant instruments by Willis and associated companies is here:

Extant Willis instruments

At some point in the near future records will be posted for the manufactories of Monzani & Co, whose business was continued by Henry Hill. 

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