Article: F.A.Heckel of Dresden
Originally written November 11th, 2015; Re-published: December 30th, 2016.
Special-order Heckel Rotary for Austria
When I first dipped into the world of rotary trumpets one of the first things I came across was the Heckel trumpet. The legendary horns were made by an ‘Instrumentenmacher’ located in Dresden, Saxonia. These instruments were frequently used by the Vienna Philharmonic and a few players of the Berlin Philharmonic until the Bernstein and Karajan era. Today the Heckels have been replaced by Lechner, Monke and Schagerl instruments. But what made these instruments so popular so that they became collectors’ items or even used till today?
Johann Adam Heckel (1809-1866):
Friedrich Alwin Heckel (1845-1915, son of the former):
Ernst Theodor Alwin Heckel (1883-1954, son of the former):
F.A. and Th.A. Heckel had a few co-workers/trainees from time to time, but F.A.H and Th.A.H were the only master craftsmen and did most of the manufacturing (i.e. bells, mouthpipes, tubes, slides etc.) themselves. Only some minor parts such as braces and the rotary valve sections were provided by other companies. I once was told that F.A.H.’s year of death (1915) is not 100% certain and that he actually may have worked for some years longer together with his son, but I could not find out so far whether this “rumour” is correct. There are Heckel trumpets in Bb, C and D; also trumpets in low-F, Eb and high-G have been built, but only a very few of them! Most trumpets have the characteristic bell garland, but there are also quite some trumpets without. The latter, for instance, were favoured in Vienna.
Above:Meister Arno Windisch
After the sudden death of Theodor Heckel, his widow sold the Heckel workshop to Arno Windisch, who briefly worked for Theodor Heckel. Arno Windisch was a meister from Klingenthal/Vogtland and did an apprenticeship in Markneukirchen near the Czech border. Windisch started the ‘Heckel’ tradition in 1953 using the ‘Heckel’ tooling. His trumpets were rated highly but were not to be thought as good as the Heckel trumpets. Windisch stopped manufacturing in 1991 and handed the workshop to Berndt C Meyer of Dresden in 1995. Arno Windisch was one of the honorary members of the Dresden Musical instrument manufacturing guild.
Left: B.C.Meyer, Right: A.Windisch
Walter Singer, developer of the Yamaha Heckel and a long time trumpet player in the Vienna Philharmonic was sent to Dresden to buy a set of Heckel C trumpets for the orchestra but only Windisch C trumpets were available. Singer tried the trumpets and stated that they were very well made trumpets but he said that they did not reach the standards of Heckel. So the unsatisfied trumpeter went back with nothing.
Many brass manufacturers, notably Gustav Wagner, Schopper, Miraphone, Yamaha and Windisch attempted to make copies of Heckel trumpets. Even Heckel’s own students could not reach the standards of their meister.
Identifying unmarked Heckel copies
Military band issue unmarked Heckel
Some Heckel copies are unmarked which leaves a significance of, would this be a ‘real’ Heckel? Well, most unmarked Heckels were made by apprentices(students) of Heckel and checked by the meister himself. Most were UNMARKED and issued for military and band use.
Finale:Leave a comment if you have a question or contact me via the contact page.
Fun Fact: The Heckel man placed the ‘Heckel’ bell when no one was around!
Sources/Special thanks to:
Maarten van Weverwijk
Above: Billing & Edmonds retailed Harrow Hat
Great Britain is home of many public schools. Including Eton College, Harrow School, Charterhouse, Winchester, Radley and many more.
One of these schools have a long tradition of wearing a special straw hat, the school is Harrow School. The Harrow hat has been a part of the Harrow uniform for centuries. Here is an article dedicated about the Harrow Hat.
Chapter 1. Lets get the name right.
There is a thing going about that the Harrow School hat is a ‘boater’ and frequently called the ‘Harrow boater’. What I want say is that, the harrow hat is not a boater.
Here are the reasons why.
- The Harrow hat crowns are very low compared to a regular boater’s crown.
- The brim is 3 times wider than a regular boater
- The two main reasons really make it a ‘Harrow Hat’ not a ‘Harrow Boater’.
- How about ‘Harrow Straw’ or ‘Harrow Matelot’? (Matelot is French word for boater. Doesn’t it sound better?)
Left: Olney Harrow Hat, Right: Olney Boater
The differences are very obvious, when put 1 to 1.
Chapter 2: Who made them?
Above: Circa 1920s, Harrow Hat Maker
Although the Harrow Hat manufacturing was passed on to Olney Headwear of Luton, Bedfordshire. It is a question who really made them before Olney. Above photo is an anonymous man making the Harrow Hat. Some Harrow Hats were made with a combination of blackened straw and some were made with plain straw. According to a seller of a 1950s Harrow School Boater, the name of Gieves LTD is on the harrow hat but I doubt that Gieves was the maker but it was rather the distributor. One strong manufacturer could be Tress & Co of London, please look under for Tress & Co boaters to draw your own conclusions.
Left: Black-straw Harrow Hat
I do not think no much black straw boaters survive to this day.
Above: A.E.Olney Factory in Luton, *Note that the Harrow Hats are in the middle. Circa. 1952
Above: Tress & Co. Black Straw Boater
Above: Tress & Co Boater
Chapter 3: Who retailed them?
Above: Gieves LTD Ad from Old Lyonian Issue of 1962
It clearly states that Gieves LTD, were the offical outfitters for Lower School of John Lyon (John Lyon School) and Harrow. Now Steven Billings & Edmonds are the official outfitters along with Harrow School Outfitters.
Above: Gieves LTD Harrow Hat, worn by Mark Thatcher
Chapter 4: Variations of hats
Above: Recent School Monitor Harrow Hat
There are 3 variations of the Harrow Hat. One would be the standard plain blue ribbon Harrow Hat, the second would be the black straw variation and the last would be a School Monitor Harrow Hat.
I believe that only school monitors can wear the Harrow Hat with the School Logo stitched onto the middle of the ribbon band.
One mystery is that if this rule was not applied ONLY to school monitors these years. Here is an old photo of the Phil-athletic club of 1930.
Above: Harrow School Phil-Athletic Club of 1930
Note that how nearly all members except for two, have the logo on their hats. Maybe back then it was applied to everybody or special teams?
(Sir Terence Rattigan is one of the members above, located right hand end of the second row, the famous Harrow Rattigan Society is named after him.)
Above: Miniature Harrow Hat
One of the other variation is the Miniature Harrow Hat, made by K.R Snoxell & Sons of Luton. K.R.Snoxell & Sons were the makers of the Luton Civic Boater.
Above: Gieves LTD Top hat
I thought I might end the article with this cool little item I found ‘sold’ online. It was a Tress & Co. Top hat sold by Gieves LTD. It was also found with a Lord’s Cricket Ground Score Card from 1935! What a historical item. As you may know, Harrow V Eton cricket matches have been happening for centuries and there is a score card for 1935! I suppose a pupil stored the card with his hat (was put in a hat box) and really forgotten, until now.
I wish to collect some Harrow hats, they are cooler than normal boaters.