Soliciting thoughts on this fife, its price, its provenance. . . [picture is gone, dang!]
Yikes, it went for how much??? ($398.00) This is what the seller said:
FIFE-CIRCA SECOND WAR OF 1812
I purchased this fife in about 1985 at an auction in Bucks County, Penna., where I worked as an auctioneer. The family, the Hellyers, were selling antiques of their father’s estate in which this fife was included. With the fife came a note written by one of the Hellyers (I beleive the deceased Mr. Hellyer). I have included a photo of the note which reads as follows.”This fife was played in the 1812 Second War with Great Britain by Alexander Hellyer, when 16 years old. Father of Myron B. Hellyer who died at the age of 91 in 1924, and Granfather to S. Helen Wismer Hellyer.”
I have no reason to question the legitimacy of it. As I remember, the Hellyers were fine, reasonable people who were selling a variety of quality items.Mr. Hellyer, dec’d, owned a garage in Willow Grove, Pa. I have done a cursory family search and have found Hellyers in England as well as Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Perhaps you may want to do a more complete search.
Condition: Seems to me to be in very nice condition. I see no cracks in the wood. One ferrel is missing and, judgeing by the patina, has been missing for generations.I’m not sure of the wood. Looks a lot like maple but, I have found out that many early American fifes were of boxwood.I will leave it to you to decide. Patina looks just right throughout.
The fife measures appr. 16 3/8 inches in length. About 7/8 inch diameter at the blow hole, and 5/8 inch at the ferrel.
I am a French Horn player, not a fluteist or historian, but I have every belief that this fife to be an authentic piece of American military history and was ,indeed ,used in the 2nd War of 1812. And, this being the Bicentennial of that war, makes the timing fitting. Perhaps a Civil War reinactor could use a genuinely old fife for performances this season!
I offer this fife at ABSOLUTE AUCTION, with NO RESERVE! Included is the hand written, pencil on paper, note as quoted above.Please contact me for any reason. I will respond to the best of my ability. Thank you for your interest.”