Skip to the good stuff!


Music Engraving Tools?

Jude Lubrano from  J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians, rare book & manuscript dealers specializing in music, is seeking information about a set of engraving tools that she acquired a decade ago at an auction in Germany.

“We would like to think they are in some way related to music engraving but this is far from clear to us.… N.B. We have been in touch with both Terry Belanger (general expert!) and Don Krummel (music printing expert!) in this regard and they are also unsure of the set’s purpose.”  

Readers are welcome to opine or suggest a lead.



  1. They look like a very fine (in both senses of the word) set of mezzotint rollers — they would have been used to create a texture to produce a tint on an intaglio plate.

  2. And a correction — mezzotint roulettes, not rollers. Modern ones can be seen here:

  3. Dear Jeff,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to consider our query. Your expert input is very much appreciated!
    Jude Lubrano

  4. They are tools for mimeo stencilmaking and similar duplication processes. That’s probably why the experts were puzzled, these things aren’t exactly heirlooms. Look on the left, the dent on the ferrule where the nail is keeping it on, the one in the middle is coming off, these were cheap tools.

  5. I’ll go with Jeff Shay and Brad Stuparyk. All the music “stavers” I’ve seen fit in the hand a bit differently, and I can’t see how the other tools would be used for music, which would instead require note-heads, flags, flats, sharps, &c. These also look like 20th-century tools, and most music engraving tools have more of a late-19th-century (unpainted) look about them. dwk

  6. Thanks so much Don! These have been sitting on our shelves (which have a knack of continuing to overflow!) for quite a few years now… It now appears as though we have our answer, albeit not the one we were hoping for! All very best from us both, Jude

  7. I agree with Brian Stuparyk: tools for creating textures in mimeograph stencils. They are too fragile to be used as roulettes on copper plates, compare with the Lyons roulettes. The tool on the left may be used to create five parallel dotted lines, as in staves, the dotting being needed because of the stencilling process. Looks mid-20th century to me. Does the box have a brand name? Here is a similar one: and scroll down to no. 1655.

  8. Dear Ad,
    Many thanks for sharing your expertise with us. We are very happy to finally be able to identify these implements.
    With best regards,
    Jude Lubrano

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

APHA encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.