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Historic Bassoons

The Trust’s holdings are held within the premises of Double Reed Ltd., and the Trust warmly welcomes visitors by appointment to view and study the items in the collections and, where practicable, to play the instruments.

English Bassoons

Milhouse, England

Double Reed Collection (D001)

Instrument: Bassoon

Maker: William/Richard Milhouse

Region: Newark, England

Era: Baroque style, classical era*

Manufacture date(s): 1780s

Keys: 5

Stamp: Milhouse / Newark

Veriam Music Trust's Milhouse baroque bassoon, England, Double Reed Collection (D001)

The Milhouse family made musical instruments from C1763-1840. Richard Millhouse (senior) began in 1763, and his two sons Richard (junior) and William continued after he died in 1775. Richard senior spelled his surname 'Millhouse', whereas his sons spelled it 'Milhouse' with only one 'l'. The 'Milhouse / Newark' stamp indicates that this instrument was made in the Newark workshop, which was the earlier location for the makers, subsequently closing and/or moving to London around the late 1780s/early 1790s. Which of the brothers ran the Newark workshop before it closed is unknown, but many of the subsequent London workshop instruments were stamped with William’s initials. Polling data continued to list Richard as a musical instrument maker at various points up until 1837. As the Newark workshop was inactive C1790, Richard may well have worked with William at the London workshops until he retired (1). 

*The Milhouse brothers, who learned their craft from their father Richard, continued to make some bassoons in the baroque style well into the classical period. This bassoon, although made in the early classical era, is baroque in style. It either pre-dates the maker’s transition to making classical style instruments, or was built in keeping with the baroque style intentionally.

Ref: (1) William Waterhouse, 'The New Langwill Index' (1993), p. 264

M002 - diag_edited.png

John Hale, England

Millyard Collection (M002) - newly listed, 09/05/24

Instrument: Bassoon

Maker: John Hale

Region: London, England (Covent Garden)

Era: Classical

Manufacture date(s): 1785 - 1804

Keys: 8

Stamp: I. Hale / London / I /(Fleur de lis icon)

John Hale, based in Covent Garden, London, worked for musical instrument maker Thomas Collier, and by 1785 had succeeded Collier in making instruments. Langwill states that Hale flourished in this endeavour between 1785 and 1804. His keys are stamped underneath with his initials, and examples of them are found on many other maker’s instruments from the period (55). Like John Green, the initial for Hale’s first name, John, is designated with an ‘I’.

This instrument has an historical crook with it.

Donated by Tony Millyard, historical musical instrument collector and maker.

Ref: (55) William Waterhouse, 'The New Langwill Index' (1993), p. 157

Preston, England

Boston Collection (B002)

Instrument: Bassoon

Maker: John (Johannes) Preston

Region: London, England

Era: Classical

Manufacture date(s): 1774-1798

Keys: 8

Stamp: Preston / London

Veriam Music Trust's Preston classical bassoon, England, Boston Collection (B002)

John (Johannes) Preston started his London musical instrument making workshop in 1774(4). He made wind instruments, but was also a highly regarded luthier and maker of baroque and classical guitars and pianos (and other musical instruments)(5). He was, in addition, a well-known printer, seller and publisher of music (6).


His son, Thomas Preston, took over the business after his death in 1798 (7), and the business continued until 1834. The ‘Preston / London’ stamp indicates an earlier date for this bassoon, being made before John Preston’s death (8).

Ref: (4, 6) William Waterhouse, 'The New Langwill Index' (1993), p. 311

Ref: (5) Wikipedia contributors, 'Wikipedia' (2023), p. name John Preston (luthier)

Ref: (7) 'The Monthly Magazine and British Register, Part I' (1798), p. 69

Ref: (8) William Waterhouse, 'The New Langwill Index' (1993), p. 311

Photos coming soon (D011)

John Preston, England

Double Reed Collection (D011)

Instrument: Bassoon

Maker: John (Johannes) Preston

Region: London, England

Era: Classical

Manufacture date(s): 1774-1798

Keys: 9

Stamp: Preston / London

See duplicate description for B002.

Astor & Co, England

Boston Collection (B003)

Instrument: Bassoon

Maker: Astor & Co

Region: London, England

Era: Classical

Manufacture date(s): 1799-1826

Keys: 6

Stamp: Astor & Co / London / 79 / Cornhill / London

Veriam Music Trust's Astor & Co classical bassoon, England, Boston Collection (B003)

Brothers George and John Astor founded their woodwind instrument workshop in London in C1778, which traded until 1831. George’s wife continued the business after his death in 1813. Astor & Co partnered with 'C. Gerock' between 1824 and 27 (see our C. Gerock bassoon M003). The inclusion of Cornhill on the stamp indicates this instrument was made between 1799 and 1826, when they were at the 79 Cornhill address (11).


John Astor moved to America in 1783(12), where, through various business ventures, he became one of the richest people to have lived in modern history. His great grandson famously died as the wealthiest person aboard the Titanic when it sank in 1912.

Ref: (11 & 12) William Waterhouse, 'The New Langwill Index' (1993), p. 12