Brasswind Innovation and Output of Boosey & Co. in the Blaikley Era
- Arnold Myers (author)
Historic Brass Society Journal
Historic Brass Society
New York, USA
David James Blaikley (b. 13 July 1846, d. 29 December 1936) was undoubtedly the presiding genius of British brasswind manufacture at the end of the nineteenth century. The son of a portrait painter, he worked for Boosey's from 1859 to 1930, interrupted only by the four years prior to 1868 (spent as a railway engineer). He was a practical acoustician, giving 5 papers to the Musical Association (later the R.M.A.) on pitch, tone quality, and wind instrument design; he contributed to Grove's Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians; he travelled abroad, visiting instrument collections in Leipzig and elsewhere, and he formed a collection of historic instruments and set up a museum for Boosey & Co. in 1905 or possibly earlier. As factory manager from 1873 to 1918 he was responsible for many improvements, inventions, and the development of new models by Boosey & Co. In his final years with the company he was in charge of research and development. His son, Arthur Blaikley, was factory manager from 1918.
D.J. Blaikley and his son Arthur Blaikley took out several patents,24 the more significant already having been mentioned. A further important innovation was the use of bronze for valve pistons and trombone slides, successful in reducing friction. After preliminary experiments recorded in the Pistons Books, the term “SOLBRON” for the special bronze pistons was introduced in 1907 and from circa 1926 “SILBRON” was also used. Neither term appears to have been stamped on Boosey & Hawkes instruments.
Arthur Blaikley was also responsible for a number of inventions and developments, including in the 1930s the hydraulic expansion process for forming tubing. His 1922 patent was for “New Valve Action” in which a spring is extended when the valve is operated, in contrast to the conventional compression spring. This appears to have been effective in producing low-friction silent-action valves, and the “N.V.A” logo was a mark stamped on the best comets and trumpets between 1922 and 1946. Boosey & Co, and later Boosey & Hawkes, made trombones to Hutchison's patent25 in which the stocking at the foot of the inner sides is shortened and a bush is provided at the top of the outer slides.