C. G. Conn Boehm System Wonder Metal Flute
Serial # 10210; Elkhart; 1906; silver plated unibody
with standard and
ebonite headjoints, gold wash mechanism; R1 G and B-C trills; knuckle
and (replacement) palm crutch; union label; min sl 587mm/573mm;
C. G. Conn & Co. was founded in 1879.
company grew over the next several decades, becoming the first industry
of its kind to be exclusively union labor in 1906; but it really
in size in 1915 when bought out by C. D. Greenleaf, a flour mill
Serial number records (only approximate, having been reconstructed
following factory fires) indicate this flute was made in 1905, but the
(see image at right -- "OUR LABEL / MPB / PIU / FACTORY 34") was first
used in 1906 -- so I'm dating this puppy to 1906.
Most early Conn "Wonder Metal Flutes" use
adjustment screws within
the hinge arm as above. Notice the configuration of the low C
screw as well. And the unibody construction allows overlapping keywork,
but you can't adjust placement of the R4 key cluster (and you just
rub the side of your pinky raw on the post below the D key).
Neither of these R1 trills does what you
The upper one duplicates the L3 key for fast G-A or G#-A trills.
The lower one is a B-C trill. And look, Ma, lots more adjustment screws
on the back connector, too!
Above on the left is the ebonite and
LH knuckle rest and the receiver for the missing palm crutch. To
the right is an intact palm crutch on a similar flute.
The very resistant oval embouchure of the
ebonite head gives the flute a dark but not particularly wooden timbre,
with a very sweet upper register. This combination of ebonite head and
metal body was called the "Howe Model" on earlier Conn flutes, made
according to the specifications of Charles T. Howe, flute professor of
Columbus, Ohio. He pronounced the combination produced "a richer
quality of tone, especially in the lower register."The more rectangular and freer blowing
embouchure of the .011" metal head sounds positively tinny in
is actually about what you expect from a modern student
headjoint. Often these flutes were provided with a metal tube
headjoint and ebonite lip plate. Ebonite continued in use through the
found this flute in a flea market in the Philadelphia area. When
you pick this up to play, you can can have tons of fun AND be confident
that the 8th grader up the street isn't playing a flute exactly like