Item #CL206-16 Music Conductor’s Batons
Music Conductor’s Batons
Music Conductor’s Batons
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Music Conductor’s Batons

c1882 & 1888. Pair of batons:

(a) Retractable brass baton with machine-finished design and inlaid mother-of-pearl handle, stamped with patent date “Nov 28, 1882”, 26.5cm (total length) and 12.4cm (retracted) x 1.5cm (diameter), small dent to upper mount. Features a patented retractable mechanism with a spring-loaded upper portion which allows another part to be attached.

(b) Ebonised wood baton with four silver mounts, one with engraved inscription on plaque including date “August 1888”, 48.7 x 1.8cm. Dent to finial and damage to band at tip of baton.

Plaque reads “Presented to F.Y. Benham, Esq. by the members of the Fitzroy Harmonic Society as a mark of their esteem and appreciation of his ability as a conductor. August 1888.” The baton can be unscrewed and separated into two pieces.

London-born Frederick Yonge Benham (1854–1929), son of Reverend Spencer Benham (1800–1866) of Castlemaine, Victoria, was a composer of hymns, a music conductor, and a “piano expert and agent.” In 1887, Benham conducted the inaugural concert of the Fitzroy Harmonic Society in Collingwood, where they performed Handel’s Samson. This concert may have been their last as there seems to be no further mention of the Society, with the exception of an advertisement for an “honorary” organist in 1888. This society may have been formed from the Fitzroy Philharmonic Society which was supported by subscriptions and active from 1873 but closed sometime around 1879, due to a problem of missing funds. In 1903 it was proposed that the Fitzroy Philharmonic Society be re-established with Council patronage.

Married three times, Benham, who lived and worked in Victoria, was sued for desertion and divorced by his first wife in 1895, who was residing at that time with their children on the North Shore of Sydney. One of their children, Alfred Ernest Yonge (1888–1962), who was raised in Mosman, NSW, became a celebrated bass singer, and a protégé of Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931). Ref: Fitzroy City Press, 10.12.1887; SMH, 13.3.1895, 19.10.1929; The Argus (Melb), 1.4.1916; The Register (Adelaide), 7.6.1922; Ryerson Index.

Item #CL206-16

Price (AUD): $1,650.00  other currencies

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