Flute, single key, boxwood / ivory / brass, made by Hermann Wrede, London, England, 1837-1841, retailed by Francis Ellard, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1837-1854
This flute is one of the earliest extant musical instruments known to have been sold in Australia and helps in building up examples of material culture relating to the early retailing and musical life of Sydney prior to 1850.
The instrument bears the stamp of London maker Hermann Wrede who had his premises at 35 Lr White Cross, Cripplegate between 1837 and 1841. The address is also stamped on the flute. Other examples of Wrede's instruments such as flutes and clarinets are found in various museum collections such as the National Music Museum, South Dakota USA and the Horniman Museum, London.
What makes this flute of particular significance to Australia is that it is stamped "Sold by F Ellard, Sydney". Ellard is one of the earliest musical instrument dealers known to have operated in Sydney from his arrival in the colony in 1832 until his death in 1854. He is known to have sold numerous types of instruments including flutes and pianos. The museum's collection also holds two square pianos from around this date. One, probably made by Collard and Collard of London, was sold by Ellard in Sydney in 1838. The other by Wolfe of London was sold by Ellard in 1841. Both these instruments carry Ellard's name and the date sold. The former also carries the name plate "Manufactured expressly for F Ellard, Sydney". Francis Ellard's family comprised singers, musicians and composers and were involved in the musical life of Sydney during the 1830s and 1840s.
W Waterhouse, The New Langwill Index (Tony Bingham, London, 1993)
Curator, music & musical instruments
(updated April 2010)
The flute was made by Hermann Wrede whilst at 35 Lr White Cross Street, Cripplegate, London, England. He resided at this address from 1837 until 1841. This flute was made at a time when many other simple system flutes were acquiring numerous keys in various combinations up to 8 keys. Being a single key flute of this period, made from boxwood and using brass for the key possibly indicates it was a cheaper model of flute.
Herman Wrede is also listed as a Pianoforte Maker at 35 Lower Whitecross Street in the Post Office London Directory 1841 (page 779). He is also listed at this address in the same directory as a maker of guitars, horns, trumpets, bugles and violins (page 767). This variety possibly suggests that by 1841 he was also a musical instrument dealer.
Francis Ellard came to Australia from Dublin in 1832 and soon established, for the most part, a thriving instrument retailing business. After establishing his business in Adelaide Place, Hunter Street he later moved to George Street, next to the silversmith Alexander Dick. After Dick's death, Ellard married his widow in 1846. Ellard, also a musician and publisher of sheet music, and his family were intimately involved in the musical life of Sydney until his death at his Pitt Street residence on 10th July 1854.