Monday, 6 September 2010

Chapter 1. Hawkes

To be honest I hadn't paid much attention to the auction until I actually have won it.  After all I didn't know much about it. I knew it was shaped bassoon-like, was allegedly about 80 years old and surprisingly cheap at only £40 at the time; and was manufactured in London by Hawkes of whom I have never heard before. But it all has changed now. Now the main question is no longer 'Why should anyone pay for some old bassoon shaped junk?'. Now it is 'What have I done?' which somehow changes the perspective.

Actually I think I was hoping for some old junk; something I could get for a third of what I have paid. I thought the worst its condition the more fun bringing it back to life will be. Just to get my hands dirty doing some real work as opposed to my usual highly digitalised life. I don't think I had playing it in mind.

Ok, so I own it and it is about time to get interested in details, check the pictures again and do some research.

Mr William Henry Hawkes started his business in 1865 in London selling orchestra sheet music and making brass instruments. I don't know when the company has changed its name from 'Hawkes & Co' to 'Hawkes & Son' but his son was born in 1898  so I guess it wasn't until at least 1915 when he joined the business. It could mean that if the unclear stamp on the instrument really is Hawkes & Son the instrument cannot be older than roughly 95 years. Another important date is October 1930. Then Hawkes & Son merged with Boosley & Co and used Boosley & Hawkes name since.

So far so good. I thought about contacting Boosley and asking them about this particular instrument in hope that they will still hold Hawkes registers but soon I realised that the company ran into some trouble and the instrument making part of it was finally shut down in 2003 or 2005. First I thought that it means a dead end but it turns out to be very fortunate to me. When the company was going under somebody donated all it's instrument callections, technical documentation and registers to the Horniman Museum in London and now it is all available there.

I think I will be going to London soon

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