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Flutes by Richard and William Henry Potter, ca. 1785-1814


NMM 4337.  Flute by Richard Potter, ca. 1785-1800 NMM 4440.  Flute by Richard Potter, ca. 1785-1800

Left: NMM 4337. Flute by Richard Potter, London, ca. 1785-1800. Conical. Five sections. Stamped on tuning slide barrel: 6 / POTTER / IOHNSON'S COURT / FLEET STREET / LONDON; on upper section and heart piece: POTTER / LONDON; on foot: PATENT / POTTER / LONDON. Ivory, unmounted. Tuning slide and screw-cap, both graduated (six concentric rings stamped with Arabic numerals). Metal lining in head joint and tuning slide. Six silver keys fitted with patented pewter plugs. Closed keys: B-flat, G-sharp, short F, D-sharp. Articulated keys: c'-sharp and c' (lever vaulted over c'-sharp). Lowest note c'. Total length, 666.5 mm. Sounding length, 594.9 mm. Ex coll.: Ellis Houghton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Right: NMM 4440. Flute by Richard Potter, London, ca. 1785-1800. Conical. Five sections. Stamped on tuning slide barrel: 6 / POTTER / IOHNSON'S COURT / FLEET STREET / LONDON; on upper section and heart piece: POTTER / LONDON; on foot: PATENT / POTTER / LONDON; on ivory ring adjacent to barrel: PATENT. Boxwood, ivory mounts. Tuning slide, screw-cap, both graduated (six concentric rings stamped with Arabic numerals). Metal lining in head joint and tuning slide. Six silver keys fitted with patented pewter plugs. Closed keys: B-flat, G-sharp, short F, D-sharp. Articulated keys: c' and c'-sharp. Lowest note c'. Total length, 667.2. Sounding length, ca. 591.4 mm. Arne B. Larson Estate, 1988.


NMM 2357.  Flute by Richard and William Henry Potter, ca. 1790-1814

NMM 2357. Flute (composite) by Richard and William Henry Potter, London, ca. 1790-1814. Conical. Five sections. Stamped on tuning slide barrel: 6 / POTTER / IOHNSON'S COURT / FLEET STREET / LONDON; on middle section and heart piece: POTTER / LONDON; on foot: PATENT / WILLM. HENY / POTTER; on ivory ferrule adjacent to barrel: PATENT. Boxwood, ivory mounts. Tuning slide, screw-cap, foot register. Tuning slide and register graduated (six concentric rings stamped with Arabic numerals). Metal lining in head joint and tuning slide. Six silver keys fitted with patented pewter plugs. Closed keys: B-flat, G-sharp, short F, D-sharp. Articulated keys: c'-sharp, c'. Lowest note c'. Total length, 661.3 mm. Sounding length, 587.8 mm. Ex coll.: Philip A. T. Bate, London. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

These three flutes were produced following the awarding of Richard Potter's flute patent No. 1499 on October 28, 1785. Although some of the features of Potter's patent were not original to him, he was able to claim patent rights to all of them in England, simply because no one else had previously done so. Richard Potter's patented features include the following:

  1. keys for B-flat, G-sharp, F, and D-sharp;
  2. pewter plug keys;
  3. a tuning slide (the pitch of the instrument could be adjusted by pulling apart or pushing together two sections of a metal-lined head joint);
  4. a screw cork adjuster (by moving a screw projecting through the head cap, the position of the cork inside the head joint could be adjusted);
  5. a register foot (telescoping metal tubes inside the foot joint allowed the player to adjust the length of the foot joint to adjust the flute's pitch. This patented foot joint was only supplied to flutes without low C and C-sharp keys); and,
  6. projecting stem of screw, tenon of tuning slide, and tenon of foot register marked with incised concentric marks, each of which is numbered. According to the patent, to achieve optimal tuning, the exposed numbers on each piece should be identical.

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