Friday, November 1, 2013

A Look Back at Powell: 1989

Looking through some of our archival materials here at Powell, we found a pricelist from 1989.  Obviously, the prices were very different then, but that is true for just about anything.  Remember when gas was less than a dollar per gallon?  The 1989 pricelist is now almost 25 years old, so it makes sense that it would be quite different from today's!

What we found particularly interesting were the product offerings.  You'll notice Series 7000 flutes, which were what we would currently call "Handmade Custom" flutes.  These flutes were available in a couple of different metals: sterling silver, Aurumite® I, Aurumite® II, 14K gold, platinum, and Platinum*4™.  The Aurumite® I was the same as our current Aurumite 14K -- sterling silver on the outside and 14K gold on the inside.  Aurumite® II was comprised of three layers: 14K rose gold on the outside, a layer of sterling silver in the middle, and then a layer of 18K gold on the inside.  The Aurumite® II was rather difficult to work with and was later discontinued.  Platinum*4™ was another combination metal which consisted of four different elements -- one layer of a combination of paladium and ruthenium on the outside, and one layer of a combination of platinum and iridium on the inside.  This Platinum*4™ combination metal proved very difficult to attain from metal suppliers, so only a few headjoints and flutes were produced from this.

What was behind the name of the Series 7000?  Well, Vice President of Production, Rob Viola, told us that it was just something different -- something that sounded modern.  He recounted that Verne Powell was a master engraver, and after Mr. Powell's death, the production team did not have anyone who could match Powell's skill level of engraving.  So, for about 10 to 15 years, the flutes were engraved on the barrel -- because the barrels were engraved off site by a qualified engraver and sent back to Powell.  Then, the Series 7000 was introduced, and the company decided to bring back many of the engraving characteristics of the flutes that Verne Powell produced,  So, like the flutes made by Verne Powell, the Series 7000 flutes returned to having engraving on the body and on the footjoint.

There are a few other differences in the 1989 product list -- different piccolo models and piccolo headjoint cuts.  The flute headjoint cuts were "Traditional," "Undercut," and "Crosscut™."  Powell's President, Steven Wasser, told us that the "Undercut" style was similar to our current "Philharmonic," and the "Traditional" style had very little undercutting.  Additionally, the alto flutes were available in silver or Aurumite® I.  Currently, Powell offers altos in the Powell Sonaré line in either sterling silver or silver plated nickel-silver bodies.  

You can find the listing of available options for Powell flute, piccolo, and headjoint models on the website at  After looking back at the 1989 product list, we can see that the 2013 offerings have a greatly expanded choice of materials and and options.  It will be interesting to see what the comparisons are when we look "back" to 2013!

Front of 1989 pricelist.
Back of 1989 pricelist.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you SO much for posting this! I've been seeking details about the Platinum*4 for ages...I ran across a PT*4 headjoint while performing in Japan, and made a short demo video of it. It's truly one of the most magical and special headjoints I've played...the sound is indescribable. So much color and spin; it's saddening that it was so hard to obtain! :( I can't thank you enough for satisfying this curiosity. I knew there had to be rare platinum-group metals involved (like iridium and ruthenium), I just didn't know how, exactly. Thanks again! :) If you'd like to see the short demo, check out :-) (Also, had no idea there was an Aurumite alto! I have a new Holy Grail search! :) )


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