Recorder, soprano (descant), plastic, made by Frank Aman & Co. United States of America, 1938
This is thought to be one of the earliest plastic recorders known to exist and is therefore significant to the history of the use of plastics in musical instrument production generally and the development of the recorder in particular. Of the thousands of recorders that have been used in schools around the world most are or have been plastic. This example marks the beginning of plastic recorder mass production and also marks the point where a cheap and relatively tuneful musical instrument could be distributed throughout the world to enable basic music making to be taught, a phenomenon that continues to the present day. It is also rare to find a recorder such as this complete with its original box and fingering chart in good condition.
Described by the maker as "a modern moulded product, combining excellent design, permanence of construction and improved musical qualities with very moderate cost", the Aman recorder set the scene for what would become one of the most widely played instruments of the 20th century, made possible with the use of plastics rather than wood for its construction. The company was confident in using a new plastic material called Durez which they claimed "will not crack, check or change dimensions." This instrument is also of interest together with the development of a simplified pitched whistle called the tonette. Both were marketed by the Tonette Company which was a subsidiary of the Gibson guitar company in the USA.
Julius Bellson; The Gibson Story. (Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, 1973).
Walter Carter; Keeping the flame alive! Amplifier 1, 1991, (cached by Google, 30 May 2008.)
Edgar Hunt; The Recorder and its Music. (Revised and enlarged. Eulenburg, London. Reprinted by Peacock Press, Hebden Bridge, 2002).
Nicholas S. Lander; The Recorder: Instrument of Music or Instrument of Torture? (1996Â?). http://www.recorderhomepage.net/torture2.html
Alec V. Loretto; "Plastic recorders" in Recorder & Music 13(1): 3-4, 8, 1993.
Ann Martin; Musician for a While: A Biography of Walter Bergmann. (Peacock Press, Hebden Bridge, 2002).
Curator, music & musical instruments
These recorders were possibly the first type of plastic recorders made as the copyright date on the fingering chart is 1938 which pre-dates other companies which made plastic recorders such as Schott, which began production in 1941 and Dolmetsch in 1947.
Made by Frank Aman & Co. using Durez plastic possibly supplied by the Durez Plastics Company who were established in about 1923 in Tonawanda, New York, USA and who sold phenolic resins. Marketed by the Tonette Company, Chicago, USA which was a subsidiary of the Gibson guitar company.