Extant Siccama flutes
As an aid to understanding the extent of Siccama's direct contribution to the flute world, and in understanding how his flutes may have changed during the period, I've opened a list of Siccama flutes that remain extant. Further down, we'll look at some of these flutes.
Let's all make sure we're talking the same language:
Extant Flutes by Siccama
So far, we've tracked down these Siccama-made flutes
that still are known to exist:
|Metal||Collection & Cat No|
|208||572.3||431||RNCM MPL 34|
|227||252||N||P||H||S||Private UK collector|
|5(6?)75||575||431||N||P||H||S||Edinburgh University (ex Sir Nicholas Shackleton)|
|930||570||N||P||H||S||Sold on Ebay|
Siccama seemed to use a range of C#-D# lengths, suggesting he was aiming at different pitch ranges. I've marked the shorter lengths orange and the longer ones green in the chart above. As you can see, the shorter ones are distributed throughout the serial number range, while the longer ones are closer to the start.
400, 405, 742 - Block mounted with saltspoon-styled keys, see below.
515 - ornately engraved lip plate and wide rings. Shield on barrel (usually for engraving owner's initials)
672 - Appears to have a L thumb operated c-key independent of the R1 c-key. An additional touch between holes R1 and R2 appears to operate a duplicate G#.
1032 - four equidistant incised lines on the tuning slide; cork/stopper mechanism similar to the one below but with wood rather than ivory screw, and three equidistant incised lines on the protruding metal pin rather than one.
Examples of Siccama Flutes
The flute below is an example of a Siccama flute with keys understood to have been made by Hudson. The flute is fully post-mounted and the keys are unusual in that their semi-cylindrical cups screw into a boss at the end of the key-shaft. This is a little reminiscent of the arrangement Monzani used, although his cups were designed to float and thus pick up the best seat. These cups screw up hard and have no apparent additional purpose other than to excite speculation in 21st century flute enthusiasts (see the flute fitted with Brille below for a closer image of the keys) . It seems likely that Siccama was following the appearance of the keys fitted to Boehm's 1832 conical ring-key flute.
Siccama Flute No 321, McGee Flutes Research Collection
Block mount with saltspoon keys
While other Siccama flutes seem all to come with post-mounted "Hudson keys", here's one with the more traditional block mounts (except on the Siccama keys for L3 and R3) and with saltspoon-style cups. Presumably for a customer who preferred the traditional appearance.
This image, kindly provided by David Levine, also offers us a closer look at the pewter plugs on the lowest two holes, and the offset Short F key fitted to Siccama flutes. On the 8-key flute, the gap between R2 and R3 is reduced to what the hand can take, and there is just room to squeeze in the short F key and block between them. On the Siccama flute, the R3 key enables the holes to be where they should be. Siccama clearly wanted that to apply to F natural as well, hence the offset needed to operate it from where the touch has to be.
Siccama No 400, David Levine
While relocating the open finger holes did great things for the general intonation of the flute, c# (fingered ooo ooo) remained flat, due to inadequate venting. Opening the c key provided the additional venting required, but who had time for that in the middle of a torrid scherzo? The "Brille" (German for spectacles) could fix that automatically. In c# (ooo ooo), it opened to provide the needed additional venting. In any other fingering, it remained closed.
We see again, in the image above, the style of key-work ascribed to former Siccama employee, John Hudson.
A foot with card-backed pads
Eight key style flutes tended to cling to the old pewter plugs for the lowest two or three notes. Pewter plugs would keep their shape while pursepads were unworkable on large holes and especially on normally-open keys. Early Siccamas used pewter plugs, but note the foot below employs card-backed pads on all holes.
Siccama Flute No 1104, Royal Northern College Of Music
The Stopper and the Cleaning Rod
Not particularly fashionable parts of the instrument normally, but Siccama's attention to detail is evidenced here too. Siccama's stopper (which you can see below) is a piece of ivory which passes right through the cork and terminates in a silver facing plate at one end and a silver indicator rod at the other. This is handy for us as it means that even after the cork has been replaced, the stopper length will be the same. And this keeps the incised mark on the rod that protrudes through the hole in the cap meaningful.
But still not enough for Siccama. Obviously of a "belts and braces" mentality, he also puts a stopper setting mark on the end of the cleaning stick supplied with the instrument. As you can see, when the stopper is set so that the incised mark is flush with the face of the cap, the mark on the cleaning rod appears central in the embouchure hole. And this is no mere speculation, as he mentions all of this in an addendum to his "Theory of the Patent Diatonic Flute". Very Siccama.
The embouchure of Siccama flute #833 showing the mark on the cleaning rod central in the embouchure. I am indebted to UK flute owner, Ray Castell for these cleaning rod images.
More Siccamas Sought!
If you have or know of a Siccama flute not listed here, or that appears significantly different from those shown, do let us know! We'd like to know:Serial Number:
Speaking length:Body + foot length:
Brille? <Y/N>Key Mounts? <B/P/M>
Key type: <O/H/R/A/F>
Touches dished or domed:Metal: <S/N>
Collection & Cat No:
(and remember, the definitions appear at the top of this page.)
You might also be interested in seeing Siccama-style flutes by other makers.