Sold on Rare 19th century eight-key flute

Popular in the first decades of the 19th century, the eight-key flute is something of a transitional instrument – one which retained much of the characteristics of the earlier baroque flute but also featured elements of the modern instrument.

Eight-key flute

A rosewood and white metal eight-key flute by Rudell & Rose, £1800 at Burstow & Hewett.

Among the best-known makers at the time was Rudell & Rose, a partnership between the London flute player and instructor George Rudall, and Edinburgh wind instrument maker John Mitchell Rose that thrived from 1821-50.

Interest in the eight-key flute as an orchestral instrument waned in the Victorian period in favour of the ‘modern’ flute based on the designs of Theobald Boehm of Bavaria. However, the eight-key flute did remain popular with folk musicians.

Since the revival of Irish music in particular in the 1970s they have been eagerly sought after.

Rosewood and white metal eight-key flute

A detail of the rosewood and white metal eight-key flute by Rudell & Rose that sold for £1800 at Burstow & Hewett.

Only occasionally are Rudell & Rose eight-key flutes seen at auction. The example here, in rosewood and white metal with the Rudell & Rose Patentees boss to one end, was offered Burstow & Hewett on January 8 with an estimate of just £30-50.

Plenty of bidding followed before it went to an internet bidder using at £1800.

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