5-key Clarinet C, N. Curtiss, Connecticut, 1800

 In Must See


5-key Clarinet in Bb
Attributed to Nathan Curtiss
ca. 1800
Fruitwood, brass keys


This vernacular clarinet speaks to the proliferation of wind instrument making in early nineteenth century New England. Possibly made by a self-taught maker, the clarinet is attributed to craftsman Nathan Curtiss, who moved between Woodbury and New Haven in Connecticut. Little is known of Curtiss’s work and life, but at least two clarinets and one bassoon exist bearing his name.


The exuberant design on the bell is a provincial example of federal-era iconography, with star-shaped stamps arranged in a neoclassical swag.

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