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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:56 am 
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Just about to tumble into bed (I'm at the bottom of the world, remember!) and I see a headline:
"US shopping icon Sears goes bankrupt in face of Amazon onslaught"

and I remember just how far back Sears, Roebuck goes in the flute world (1897):

http://www.oldflutes.com/catalogs/sears/index.htm

Good grief!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:18 pm 
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Prices like that! it's no wonder they're closing up shop. Just kidding. Interesting post.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:49 pm 
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Wow, look at those prices. I've opined before about the lack of Irish flute and pipes influence in the tunes that migrated into Appalachia and became OldTime and Bluegrass standards on mainly stringed instruments. I thought it might have been the availability of inexpensive guitars and banjos from the Sears catalog. But look at all those flutes at very affordable prices!

So I guess it's back to a city vs. country paradigm for the reasons flutes (and pipes) survived and prospered in places like Chicago with O'Neill's club, and didn't make it into the Appalachian string band traditions. There is a history of fife playing in Appalachia but it didn't make it into OldTime and Bluegrass as a standard instrument.

On a personal note, I won't miss much about the Sears I grew up with, except for the Craftsman line of tools. The clothing and appliances weren't that great, but the Craftsman line of tools were always reliable and well-made before everything at the "affordable" level was outsourced to China.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:33 pm 
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Note that Sears supplied what we know and tend to disparage as German flutes. Churned out cheaply and offering fairly poor performance compared to craftsman-built flutes of the same time.

Of course those days are far behind us. We are now inundated with Pakistani flutes - often far worse than the Sears products of over 120 years ago!

There is a technical term for this. Progress. Sigh.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:46 pm 
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Interesting catalog! I see that flutes made from cocoa wood (presumably cocuswood) were
consistently less expensive than those made from grenadilla, and not much more than boxwood.
The relative cost and availability of these woods today is quite different.

I was also interested to see that they sold not only copies of Meyer flutes, but also "genuine
Meyer" flutes.

And then on the third page there is a flute that has a "genuine American ivory" head. Since there
were no elephants native to America in those days, I wonder what "genuine American ivory" refers to.
Mammoth? Walrus? Whale? ...


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:08 pm 
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Sears was basically the Amazon of it's era. Chicago was the doorway to the newly-opened West, and Sears was just one of several, large, mail-order warehouses.

Of course, MBAs have figured out how to split the non-performing assets off from the performing ones. Sears as a store-front is dead, but once you get rid of that albatross, Sears is a real-estate goldmine, with a portfolio of properties, centrally-located in many cities across the US, ripe for gentrification and redevelopment.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:36 pm 
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I wonder when they come to have their closing out sales, if they'll find any of that 1897 stock still on the shelves. With the old price tags, even?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:03 am 
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paddler wrote:
And then on the third page there is a flute that has a "genuine American ivory" head. Since there were no elephants native to America in those days, I wonder what "genuine American ivory" refers to.
Mammoth? Walrus? Whale? ...


I wonder if that was simply a typo, Paddler, although I know it comes up more than once. "Genuine African ivory" would make sense. African ivory is generally preferred to Asian ivory as it's bigger.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:42 pm 
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Sears Canada went bankrupt last year. It's sad, but I think they have themselves to blame as instead of continuing to offer low to moderately priced goods the way they did for so many years, they chose to focus on upper end clothing and merchandise despite having the examples of Simpsons and Eatons (2 Canadian department stores a bit like Macy's in the US) which went bankrupt).

I have one of those $1.98 Sears German flutes which I bought a number of years ago (for a little but not much more than $1.98) at a local shop which repairs band instruments for schools in the area. It needed new pads and cork stopper, a broken tenon repair and some other odds and ends and is not completely straight, but it plays well. A pleasing but small sound. Intonation not very good. The tuning slide is brass and only goes part way up the headjoint. 4 keys of which the Eb key is a later replacement and is of better quality than the other keys. Workmanship quite good to my non-maker eyes. Mouth-hole undercut quite a bit on the far side.

A bit off-topic, but does anyone know what kind of flute Patsy Hanley is playing in this clip from many years ago? I was told it was a German flute, but it doesn't look like mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwZ9dFUSDCs


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:10 pm 
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cac wrote:
A bit off-topic, but does anyone know what kind of flute Patsy Hanley is playing in this clip from many years ago? I was told it was a German flute, but it doesn't look like mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwZ9dFUSDCs


That's quite clearly an English block-mounted 8-keyer with German Silver keys. The grasshopper foot keys are typically English.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:15 pm 
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I think that must have been the 19th century usage of "German flute" (meaning the transverse flute as opposed to the English flute, the recorder), because that looks like an English 8-key to me.

Note it's right-handed, and he's playing left handed. Note also the stylish blue (electrical?) tape binding up the barrel, presumably to render a crack airtight.

It's certainly not holding back his playing, is it?

Interesting your "German flute" has a partial head slide. Sure it's not French?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:16 pm 
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The last time I was at a Sears - a couple of years ago, I think - I was struck by these things: few customers, fewer employees, a much sparer selection than I would have seen in the past, and bizarre sights such as a rack of pillows in the electronics section. It was entropy before my very eyes, and I thought it did not bode well. Turns out I was right.

As it should happen, the store didn't have what I was looking for - simultaneously a surprise and no surprise at all - so I had to leave without making a purchase, adding momentum to the downward spiral.

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