These illustrations are taken from the German Æolian Tutor, published in 1830 by I. Willis and Co., who were importers and manufacturers of the instruments. The upper illustration shows just how stylish one can look whilst playing what is essentially just a reedplate; the lower illustration gives some idea of the range of different aeolians (also known as aeolinas) that were available: from the four reed version that merely sounded a simple major chord, to the Chromatic Pandean Aeolian with a one and a half octave range. The pandean aeolians were built on a comb much like a modern harmonica and the chromatic versions had keys that prevented the sharps and flats from sounding until they were pressed by the player.
The unnamed author of the booklet said that the instrument was first brought to the UK in 1827 and had its public debut at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, played by a Mr T. Cooke. The booklet lists no less than 32 different models of aeolian available from Willis & Co., with the cheapest ones starting as 2s/6d (12 1/2p in modern British currency). Although that does not not sound particularly expensive, that would be equivalent to approximately £80 (US$120) today.
A Brief History of Mouth Blown Free Reed Instruments
What Is A Free Reed?
Origins Of The Free Reed
Eastern Free Reed Instruments
A Selective Discography Of Asian Free Reed Instruments
Western Free Reed Instruments
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