This wooden fife was made by William Callender, an American wood turner from Boston, Massachusetts. Callender supplied musical instruments to the ships on the Boston Station, including USS Constitution, during the War of 1812. This example is marked “WM. Callender / 62 Middle / Boston.” Callender lived on Middle Street in Boston around 1810.
A fife is a small, cylindrical, high-pitched woodwind instrument, usually made with brass ferrules at each end to protect the instrument from damage. A fife such as this one would have been used by a Marine fifer to call the ship’s crew to quarters and pass orders before and during battle. In times of peace, fife music gave cadence to heavy work such as raising an anchor or boat.