Berteling badge
Berteling trills

Theodore Berteling
c.1865; # 30; New York; Boehm system; Grenadilla body, plated nickel silver(?) mechanism; A~448; sl 588mm; 459g

From 1855 until 1890 Theodore Berteling (1821-90) made various keyed system flutes in wood, ivory and metal. An inventor as well as a craftsman, in 1868 he took out the first American patent for improvements specifically to the Boehm system flute.

The finish on this flute is aged and darkened, but in the right light the color and luster of the wood still shines through.  Unfortunately, most of these low resolution images must be color balanced for the reflective mechanism.

Characteristic of his work are the "eye" shaped name plaque (this one with the number "30" stamped into the center) and  the "raised nipple" pad cup design with fairly long "Y" hinge arms.  In addition to the Grenadilla palm crutch is a tiny, elegantly turned box for cork grease.

The upper R1 trill touch is B-C rather than Bb.  The lower touch duplicates L3 for G-A or G#-A trills.  G# is (thankfully) closed.

Berteling crown/head
Berteling w/ Grenadilla Palm Crutch & Cork Grease Container

Berteling thumb axels/palm crutch
Berteling back connector
Several of Berteling's innovations can be seen in the images here.

To the left notice the separate axles for the thumb key and the Briccialdi Bb lever.  This is a much more stable and durable arrangement, greatly reducing the "slop" that comes with wear.  You can also see where the B-C trill touch connects to the end of the thumb key arm.

Above the thumb mechanism is the palm crutch.  The previous owner (who also did finish work on Roy Seaman piccolos) removed the crutch receiver, and filled in the holes with tiny Grenadilla dowels.  This appears to be the only modification made to the flute, and luckily the hardware and crutch were retained.

Berteling moved all clutches for the coupling of the keys to the back side of the flute.  The back connector with adjusting screws is at lower left.  On the right are the F# clutches to the R2 and R3 kickers.  Below is a side view closeup of the R3 kicker in the raised position, showing a cushion embedded in the Grenadilla body to silence the action.  In later flutes Berteling inserted a leaf spring between the kicker and the end of the adjusting screw, resulting in less concentrated wear and more stable action.  Even without these, this flute has not needed adjustment after several generations of neglect.

Berteling F# clutch
Berteling F# clutch close-up
Berteling Crown The dome crown is female threaded to mate with the wooden screw cork adjuster and perforated for the metal pin cork position indicator.

Trill key spring arrangement is unique, with the attachment point being an extension of the upper post of the left hand mechanism which also stabelizes the trill rod.

Tone holes are countersunk and beveled to a sharp rim at the pad seat.

Berteling Tone Hole
Berteling Trill Springs
Berteling tenons/receivers This flute has spent most of its life in "suspended animation" in a closet in Arizona.  A student brought this, his grandfather's flute, to the attention of his flute teacher, who then acquired it.  Although familiar with wooden instruments (being an oboe player and piccolo final assembler), the teacher did not recognize some of the features; and since the flute played well as-is, he made no adjustments.  The only alteration was the removal of the palm crutch receiver and filling of the screw holes.  For all we know, the pads may even be original! 

Berteling headjoint
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 a most detailed description and commentary on a later flute of Theodore Berteling.

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Images © J. W. Sallenger