A. G. Badger flute in case

Engraved gold plate on headjoint

A. G. Badger
c.1868-1880; New York; Boehm system; soldered plated body & mechanism to low B-flat, closed G#, Briccialdi Bb; metal clad wood barrel embouchure and crown; A~446; sl 667mm; 488g; .013"h .014"b

Alfred G. Badger (1814-1892) was a flute specialist who opened his Buffalo shop in 1838, moving to Newark in 1844 to manufacture flutes and finally relocating operations to New York in 1848.  A great admirer of his contemporary Louis Lot, Badger was perhaps the most important 19th century proponent of the new cylindrical bore Boehm system flute in America, and the first licensed by Boehm to produce his flute in the New World. 

Badger also collaborated with Charles Goodyear to develop an ebonite (vulcanized rubber) suitable for instrument making, acquiring the patent rights in 1859 to use the material in flute manufacture.  Through the end of the century ebonite became widely used in flutemaking due to its appearance, resilience, and comparative imperviousness to fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Barrel engraving

L4 to low Bb mechanism

Body/foot clutch for low Bb

Footjoint venting adjustment screw

Above you can see that the low B-flat is actuated by the long L4 mechanism (sorry about the photo splices) that clutches to the footjoint at the tenon to connect to the even longer Bb shaft.  The venting of the Bb tonehole is adjusted by means of a kicker under the D# touch opposite the clutch.  The venting of the B, C and C# toneholes is set with a knurled adjuster incorporated onto the B connector.  The C and C# pad cups open until stopped by the B touch in the R4 cluster. 

Functional end of thumb touch; G# tone hole and pad cupNote the very long dapped key arms and raised nipple pad cups. This motive carries throughout the flute except two pointed keys used for G# (to fit under mechanism) and low Bb (to maintain alignment with D# tonehole). A good flute for comparison would be one by Badger's New York contemporary, Theodore Berteling.

Topside viewNostril View
Underside view
Navel View

Threaded wood crown and cork indicator

Beneath the metal plating the wood crown is female threaded to mate with the wooden screw cork adjuster and perforated for the metal cork position indicator.

Oval embouchure

The wood barrel embouchure is sandwiched between the headjoint tube and a metal sleeve. The wood is visible here looking into the very oval blow hole.  Not as smooth and polished as it was 130 years ago, but it still generates a sweet sound.

G# touches for L4 and R1

A R1 trill touch for G# is created with a fluid continuation of the L4 touch as it passes beneath the in-line G pad cup.    The other R1 touch is a B-C shake.

This flute passed from father to son to grandson -- and then grandson got the dang fool notion that girls were more fun than flutes, and into the closet it went for the next 35 years!

A special thanks to Peter Spohr's article on early American Boehm flutes in the Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society (Volume XXV) for his description and commentary on another Badger flute, and to Jim Gleason of Old World Music for his assistance in bringing the flute back into playing condition. Check the similar A. G. Badger flute on David and Nina Shorey's Field Guide to Antique Flutes (and enjoy their double-tongue-in-cheek speculation as to its provenance)!

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Images © J. W. Sallenger