Dayton C. Miller with 22k and 18k-gold flute which he made in 1902-1905, photograph, 1922. Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, Miller family photographs, no. 66, Music Division, Library of Congress.
Dayton C. Miller (1866-1941), was a professor of physics for fifty years at the Case School of Applied Science (now Case Western Reserve University), in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Miller was a well-respected scientist, inventor and lecturer, much admired by his colleagues. He received his doctorate in astronomy at Princeton in 1890, and began teaching at Case in the same year, at first teaching mathematics and descriptive geometry, then calculus and physics. He was transferred to the Physics Department in 1892, and wrote a textbook on physics in 1903 that served as a standard for thirty years. Dr. Miller was an experimental scientist and was conversant with the latest scientific discoveries. He was an early enthusiast of the x-ray and he traveled to Europe for the first time in 1896 to meet Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen, the German physicist, who had discovered it just the previous year. He also went to the International Congress of Physics in Paris in 1900 to attend a lecture on ether drift given by Lord Kelvin, a British physicist. The subject of ether drift occupied Dr. Miller's researches for many years and was the cause of a collegial rivalry with Einstein and his theory of relativity. Dr. Miller and Einstein did meet in Cleveland in May 1921, the year of Einstein's first trip to the U.S. On another occasion in the winter of 1930-1931, Einstein also visited Dr. Miller. There is a newspaper account of 15 December 1931 from the Oklahoma News of Oklahoma City which describes his visit, though Dr. Miller may have been recalling an incident that may have happened during Einstein's earlier visit in 1921:
Dr. Miller tells of an amusing experience he had with Einstein. Einstein was visiting Dr. Miller, last winter, and made suggestions in connection with Dr. Miller's work, despite the fact that they might be a boomerang for him. On his way out, Dr. Miller asked Einstein to add his name to the list of notables he had collected. Einstein did, and left. Hardly had he gone when the relativist returned and, picking up the pen, said in German: 'I must add my street address. Perhaps you will want to locate me so that you could wring my neck.' And, with a roguish smile, he illustrated his remark with a twist of his two clenched hands.
Dr. Miller was much in demand as a lecturer as he had a gift for speaking about complex scientific ideas in a way that even a layman could understand. In his lifetime, Dr. Miller presented over 500 lectures, and traveled widely in the U.S., Canada and Europe to present his scientific papers or to attend lectures. His early studies in music - he played the piano, pipe organ, as well as the flute, and composed music for voice, piano and flute - led him to specialize in acoustics. He was the inventor of the phonodeik, a device that could record sound waves of the voice and musical instruments photographically. Dr. Miller was an expert in architectural acoustics and was consulted during the planning of many public spaces which are renowned today for their acoustics - the chapels at Princeton and Bryn Mawr, as well as the auditoriums of the National Academy of Sciences and Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.
As mentioned, Dr. Miller was an amateur flute player of whom it was once said: "When Professor Miller plays on a silver flute he is an accomplished flutist, but when he plays on his gold flute, he is an inspired flutist." Dr. Miller was also a collector of flutes and all materials related to the history and development of the flute. He donated his flute collection to the Library of Congress in 1941. The Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection consists of over 1,700 wind instruments and is the largest collection of its kind in the world. The other materials in Dr. Miller's collection include his library of 3,000 books, 10,000 pieces of sheet music composed for the flute, 2,000 photographs of flutists or composers for the flute, American and European (British, French, German and Belgian) patent specifications relating to the flute, an autograph collection of flutists, a small statuary collection, and a collection of about 850 prints containing images of wind instruments. The Miller print collection is often referred to as an iconography collection, so the two terms are used interchangeably here. Iconography simply means "pictorial material relating to or illustrating a subject: a pictorial record of a subject." Basically it refers to images or imagery, which could be of any subject - religious iconography, for example. In the case of the Miller prints, iconography refers to musical iconography, especially images of wind instruments.
Dr. Miller devoted all of his spare time to his researches on the flute and documenting and cataloguing the instruments and materials he collected. He placed a small advertisement in The Flutist, a magazine edited by his friend, Emil Medicus, for which Dr. Miller wrote ten articles on the flute between 1921 and 1925. The advertisement read:
WANTED. Old flutes of wood, ivory, glass or metal. Give full particulars relative to make, keys, peculiarities of construction, condition, etc. Also, old books, methods, etc., pertaining to the flute and flute-playing. Address: Prof. Dayton C. Miller, Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland, Ohio.
He corresponded with flute makers and proprietors of flute-making shops, as well as book, print and music dealers in Europe and in the U.S. In 1896, Dr. Miller made his first trip to Europe and, though he traveled there again in 1900, 1912 and 1926, it was in the 1930s that he and Mrs. Miller traveled nearly every summer or early fall to Europe. In these years, they traveled extensively, visiting England, Scotland, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, Hungary, Germany and France. By 1938, probably the last year Dr. Miller went abroad, he had made at least a dozen trips to Europe. On these trips, Dr. Miller almost always visited the historic flute-making firms in England, France and Germany, and he also frequented antiquarian shops where he might find old instruments, books or music. Over the years, Dr. Miller built up a formidable network of contacts who, knowing of his interest in all things related to the flute, kept him informed as to any instruments or flute-related materials they came across. Dr. Miller even sent out lists of desiderata to flute, book, and music dealers requesting very specific instruments, editions, or pieces of music. Dr. Miller's friends in Europe, as well as his American friends who traveled to Europe each year and visited shops and dealers, kept Dr. Miller's interests as a collector especially in mind. Two of Dr. Miller's friends in England for whom he had a very high regard were Montague George of Rudall Carte, London, and John Finn, in Norwich. Dr. Miller first visited Rudall Carte in 1896, where he met Montague George for the first time. Mr. George had been with Rudall Carte since 1885, and was still there 55 years later in 1940. Dr. Miller, of course, corresponded with Montague George for many years and, beginning in 1912 and into the 1930s, he often kept notes of their conversations whenever they met in London. On Dr. Miller's last visit in 1938, he called on Montague George four times between August and September, the last time accompanied by Mrs. Miller to say farewell. Dr. Miller corresponded with John Finn from 1909 to 1936, but only met him for the first time in 1935, after years of sharing information about flutes.
On Dr. Miller's trips abroad, he applied the same rigor, intensity, and thoroughness to his researches on the flute that he did to his scientific researches. For each city to which he traveled, he made lists of book, music and instrument shops, and searched through years of city directories to discover the histories of flute-making firms. He also met with his correspondents - book, music, and flute dealers, and collectors, such as Canon Galpin, whom he met in 1933 - and often took notes on his conversations. Dr. Miller used the information he gathered to identify more exactly the flutes, books and music from certain periods that he wished to collect. He also used the material he discovered to write articles on the flute. Dr. Miller always intended to write a book on the history of the flute, thus he gathered all this information with that ultimate intention in mind. He also visited museums while abroad to study musical instrument collections, such as those at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, the Museum of the Conservatory of Music in Paris, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, and other museums in Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Nuremberg, Vienna, Milan and Copenhagen.
When Dr. Miller wrote an article on his collection for The Flutist magazine in June 1923, he did not include works of art in the eight categories of his collection. It was only after 1923 that he really began to collect prints and it was only in 1935, with the publication of his catalogue of books, that Dr. Miller listed works of art as one of the principal categories of his collections (by then, condensed to five categories - flutes, books, music, works of art, portraits). The principal dealers in antiquarian books, prints and music with whom Dr. Miller corresponded were the firms Arthur H. Clark Company of Cleveland, Ohio (later Glendale, California), Paul Ritti of Paris, and Harold Reeves of London. He also knew and corresponded with the following dealers in Europe: D.B. Centens of Amsterdam; Henning Oppermann of Basel; Arthur Collignon, Max Harrwitz, and Leo Liepmannssohn of Berlin; Hans Rothschild of Cologne (later Amsterdam); Gustav Fock of Leipzig; Townley Searle of London; and Jacques Rosenthal, Jacob Spaeth, and Karl Seuffer of Seuffer & Willi (whom he met at the shop of Jacob Spaeth), of Munich. The earliest and most frequent correspondents were Arthur Clark and Paul Ritti. From time to time, these two dealers and others sent actual prints, or lists of prints, to Dr. Miller to ask if he was interested in collecting etchings or engravings that depicted wind instruments. Print collecting was not Dr. Miller's primary interest which he made clear to his correspondents. His preference was to purchase instruments, books, and music. Nevertheless, the prints were very inexpensive - many were under $2.00 and most were under $10.00 - and Dr. Miller did make selections from the prints or lists of prints sent to him. Dr. Miller was fortunate in his friendships because the prints he ultimately acquired are wondrously eclectic in subject matter and range from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries. There are some important artists represented in the collection and, though the majority of prints are by less well-known artists or even unknown artists, many of the art works are quite special for the beauty and manner of their execution.
Another important contact for Dr. Miller was Harold Reeves, a London dealer, with whom he corresponded from 1917 to 1940. Over the years they developed a warm and collegial friendship, as Dr. Miller did with many of his contacts. Dr. Miller purchased mostly books, music and prints from Harold Reeves, but it was through Harold Reeves, also, that Dr. Miller purchased many instruments from the late Dr. Southgate's collection in 1922, as well as a large collection of instruments from the C. Van Raalte Collection, Brownsea Castle Sale, 21 June 1927, in Bournemouth, England.
In January 1925, Mr. Reeves sent Dr. Miller a framed eighteenth-century color print. He had just purchased it from a collector and described it in his accompanying letter of 14 January 1925, as an "old colour print [a Gillray] showing a concert party, where the flute player occupies a prominent position." Mr. Reeves explained that he had taken the liberty of sending it to Dr. Miller, with its "old English contemporary gilt frame," as he thought Dr. Miller should have it for his collection. He thought it would look particularly fine in his study.
Dr. Miller responded, with gratitude, on 9 February 1925, writing:
I have received the color print showing the flute player which you sent me.... I am very glad indeed to add it to the collection and I thank you for taking the trouble to purchase it, for as you say, such specimens are apt to be lost on account of the time required for correspondence. I am enclosing a bank draft for the amount, £3-6-9. With kindest regards, I am Yours very truly [Dayton C. Miller].
A photograph of Harold Reeves was reproduced in the 29 September 1937 issue of Vogue, which Reeves sent to Dr. Miller who was delighted to receive it as it was "a pleasant reminder of our many visits." The photograph shows Reeves seated in his shop at 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, surrounded by his books and music collections. The caption beneath it describes Reeves and the ambiance of his shop and its many treasures:
Music hath charms and archives, too, at 210 Shaftesbury Avenue where Harold Reeves houses his world-famous collection of music, mediaeval Mss, rare instruments, polyglot critical and biographical studies, plaster casts of Chopin's hand, silhouettes of Paganini, photographs of Toscanini. In a maze of narrow alleys methodically crammed, Mr. Reeves, that genial velvet-jacketed enthusiast, faintly Dickensian, faintly Olympian, will find you a Berlioz letter, or Armstrong on Swing, before you have turned the first page of a Debussy Ms., or realized you are standing on Gregorian chants to reach sea-shanties. Courtesy of Vogue/Condé Nast Publications Ltd.
The iconography collection was formed, then, in a more random, serendipitous manner. Dr. Miller did not purchase the prints with the same specificity and requirements he demanded of the flutes, books and music he collected. He did not seek certain artists, certain impressions, or even a chronological or geographic range of prints from different centuries. The only criterion in his selection process was that the print should include a wind instrument, preferably a flute. Although the collection includes such important artists as Dürer, Burgkmair, Goltzius, and Hogarth, Dr. Miller was just as happy to include in his iconography collection covers of popular magazines such as Puck, American Boy, Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, and The New Yorker, and photographs of paintings in European collections in which wind instruments were represented. It simply sufficed that the prints complemented his flute collection, that they were very inexpensive, and that they added another dimension to his overall collections on flute-related materials. The collection ranges, then, from the fifteenth-century artist, Albrecht Dürer, to twentieth-century magazine covers of The Saturday Evening Post by Norman Rockwell.
Organization of the Print Collection
Dr. Miller, being a scientist, was very thorough in documenting and cataloguing his various collections. For the flutes and prints, he kept ledger books and he also cross-indexed every item in card files. He also created cross-indexed card files on every book and piece of music. For the iconography collection, Dr. Miller even devised his own subject categories by assigning the letters A to Z to different groups of prints. For example, A - Animals; B and C - Caricatures and Cartoons; E - Exotic Instruments; F - Title Pages - Plates from Books - Initial Letters; G - Greeting Cards and Magazine Covers; H - Pan; K through O were described generally as Works of Art with the following breakdown: K - Early Subjects; L - Single Players; M - Groups of Musicians including Processions; N - Groups of Musicians - Indoors; O - Outdoors and Pastoral; P - Photographs of Paintings including Still Life; Q - Miscellaneous - Tapestries - MS - Line Drawings; R - Colored Prints; S - Costumes; T - Miscellaneous Art - [including] Statues; U - Mythological; V - Works of Art; W - Japanese and Chinese; X - Exhibition [meaning finer prints of exhibition quality]; Y - Miscellaneous Art (large); Z - Instruments - Plates. There is sometimes a crossover among the categories. For example, if an image has a mythological subject (U category), it might also be placed in K (Early Subjects) or Y (Miscellaneous Art - large). Nevertheless, Dr. Miller's categories serve fairly well in identifying the subject areas of the print collection. In the catalogue record for each print, there is a number, followed by a letter. These refer to the number and subject category assigned to each art work by Dr. Miller. For example, Euterpe by Goltzius, is 61/K, meaning that it was the 61st print acquired by Dr. Miller as numbered in his ledger, and that he assigned it to his subject category, K, for Early Subjects.
Review of the Print Collection
During the initial review of the collection in the spring of 2004, the first priority was to build a database to document the prints and to enter into it the minimal information for each art work from Dr. Miller's ledger and card files, which included Dr. Miller's original catalogue numbers and subject categories. The prints had been matted in Conservation in the 1970s and had been organized since the seventies by size and by conservation numbers assigned to them at that time. Thus, the prints first had to be reviewed and sorted to identify them by Dr. Miller's original numbers and categories, and they were then placed in map drawers according to Dr. Miller's original categories. Dr. Miller's principal sources for the prints were also identified and the relevant invoices and correspondence from dealers were photocopied in order to verify provenance and to glean any further information about the prints that might have been provided at the time of their purchase.
Once the prints were organized into Dr. Miller's original categories, a more careful review of each of the art works was begun. Each print was studied in detail. Each was measured with both the sheet and platemark dimensions being taken. Any inscriptions were noted that may have identified the artist (engraver, etcher, lithographer) and the original artist (usually a painter) if it was a reproductive print. Other details such as title, date, and printed or handwritten inscriptions on the recto and verso were also recorded. Most of the prints are in good condition, having already been reviewed and matted in Conservation thirty years ago, but any stains, small tears, or other details, such as the sheet being trimmed unevenly, were noted. Each print was described along with the scene or subject represented in it and, if possible, the source from which the print was derived was identified, such as a book illustrating proverbs, poetry, excavations at Herculaneum, or travel to India, China or Africa. Short biographies on the artist or artists were also provided.
Since the summer of 2004 and until December 2006, about 300 of the 850 prints have been carefully studied. Thus far, the engravings, etchings, and lithographs seem to fall into three basic categories: 1) original prints by painters-engravers such as Dürer and Hogarth; 2) reproductive prints, that is, prints by engravers after well-known painters such as Watteau, Rubens or Teniers; and, 3) book illustrations. The 850 "prints" also include a sizable collection of black and white photographs of paintings in European museums, a large collection of twentieth-century magazine covers, and a small group of greeting cards - all of which contain images of wind instruments.
The review of the prints in the Dayton C. Miller iconography collection is very much a "work in progress." In the long run, the value of this collection may be simply that it is a large print collection in which wind instruments are represented almost exclusively. Only when the entire collection has been catalogued will it be possible to identify the strengths of the collection. Only then will the richness of the collection become fully evident to specialists in prints or musical iconography. The prints need to be studied more closely - with print specialists as well as instrument specialists - so that their context is better understood and their importance can be put into a proper perspective. It may take several more years before the prints are fully documented and scanned, but searchable fields have now been created in a database on the prints. It seemed a worthwhile endeavor, then, to present online the essays and biographies of artists and authors of illustrated books associated with about one hundred and twenty prints as a "preview" of the Miller iconography collection.
In the future, when more of the prints have been researched and scanned and have been added to this Web site, it is hoped that the prints in the Dayton C. Miller iconography collection will be a source for more in-depth study by researchers in musical iconography - particularly for specialists in wind instruments. In the meantime, now that a selection of the prints is available online as a "preview," the interested researcher will have more access to the Miller print collection and will have the additional capability of being able to sort the images by artist's name, artist's nationality (Dutch, French, Italian, German), century (15th to 20th), instrument (bagpipe, flageolet, recorder, panpipes, flute), media (woodcut, engraving, etching, lithograph), or subject matter (caricature, genre, mythology).
Here are some possible avenues for exploring the Dayton C. Miller iconography collection online – By century: 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th; By artist's nationality: Dutch, Flemish, German, French, Italian, British, Japanese; By subject: Classical/Mythological, Genre, Pastoral, Literary Source, Travel or Exploration, Reproductive Prints after works by well-known artists, Religious, War, Political Satire, Theater, Music Lesson, Musical Group, Musician - Single Player, Flutemaking, Instruments/Plates, Still Life, Caricature/Cartoon, Animals, Magazine covers.
- A slightly different version of this essay was presented under the title, Ars Musica, as a lecture at a conference of the National Flute Association in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 13 August 2006. This text of The Artful Flute also appeared in Pan, the journal of the British Flute Society, in March 2007, but the essay has been slightly expanded here to include more information about Dr. Miller's scientific background and his manner of documenting the print collection. Also, additional selections from the Miller iconography collection are included in this online version, perhaps about one hundred and twenty images in all. Each art work is accompanied by a catalogue record giving the media and dimensions of the print. Descriptions of each print as well as short biographies on the artists are also provided. The greatest advantage to the online version will be the ability to search the prints by artist's name, artist's nationality, century, media, instrument, and subject. I am very grateful to Robert Bigio, editor of Pan, for permission to reprint The Artful Flute in this Web site, though it appears in this presentation with a few modifications as noted above. [back to article]
- The sources cited in this essay regarding Dr. Miller's biography are: 1) Robert S. Shankland, "Dayton Clarence Miller: Physics Across Fifty Years."American Journal of Physics 9(October 1941):273-283. LC call number: QC1.A47. This is an excellent essay on Dr. Miller as a physicist, academic, inventor, musician and collector. It contains an extensive bibliography on the scientific addresses and publications of Dr. Miller. Much of the biographical material contained in this article, especially that of his early childhood, was derived from Dr. Miller's own recollections. The quotation regarding Dr. Miller and his gold flute is credited to Professor Michelson, a physicist at Case School of Applied Science from 1883-1889, who made early experiments in ether drift with Professor Morley in 1887. Dr. Miller succeeded Professor Michelson at Case. The quotation is given in Shankland, page 278. Reprinted with permission from American Journal of Physics 9(October 1941):278. Copyright 1941, American Association of Physics Teachers. My thanks to Susann Brailey and Terry Williams of the American Institute of Physics, Melville, New York, for granting this permission. I also wish to acknowledge the gracious consent of Mrs. Eleanor Shankland, Cleveland, Ohio, to quote from this article by Robert S. Shankland. 2) William J. Maynard, "Dayton C. Miller: his life, work, and contributions as a scientist and organologist." Master's Report, Palmer Graduate Library School, Long Island University, Brookville, New York, 1971. A copy of this thesis is housed in the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress. It is also available online in the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection Web site. [back to article]
- The quotation regarding Einstein comes from an article by Israel Klein, "Savant Walks 120 Miles to Prove Einstein 'Dizzy.'" Oklahoma News, Oklahoma City, 15 December 1931, pages 1-2. This clipping is in the biographical file on Dr. Miller in the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress. Reprinted with permission from The E.W. Scripps Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. [back to article]
- The two Miller sources referenced herein are: 1) Dayton C. Miller, "The Dayton C. Miller Collections: Notes by the Collector." The Flutist (June 1923):997-1001. 2) Dayton C. Miller, "Foreword," in The Dayton C. Miller Collections relating to The Flute. II. Catalogue of Books and Literary Material relating to The Flute and other Musical Instruments with Annotations by Dayton. C. Miller. Cleveland: Privately Printed, 1935. [back to article]
- Quotations from the letters of Harold Reeves and Dr. Miller, as well as a photograph of Harold Reeves from [British] Vogue, 29 September 1937 (not reproduced here), come from the Reeves/Miller correspondence files in the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection. The caption from Vogue is reprinted here courtesy of Vogue/Condé Nast Publications Ltd. [back to article]