Considered the greatest 20th century American flutist and Pedagogue of the instrument, William Kincaid, was born April 26, 1895 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1911 he moved to New York to study flute with the distinguished Georges Barrere at the Institute of Musical Art while also perfecting his craft at Columbia University. From 1913 to 1918, Kincaid performed under Walter Damrosch in the New York Symphony Orchestra and went on to play with the New York Chamber Music Society. In 1921, when Kincaid was twenty-six, he moved to Philadelphia by the request of Leopold Stokowski, the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was here that Kincaid replaced Andre Maquarre as solo flutist, a position he held until his retirement in 1960. Having settled in Philadelphia, Kincaid joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1928 and was an original member of the Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet, which was created in 1950.
This platinum flute was made by Verne Q. Powell in 1939 and exhibited in the New York City World's Fair held the same year as evident by the trylon and perisphere inscriptions. Purchased by Kincaid, the flute accompanied him on numerous recitals and recordings. Following Kincaid's death in 1967, the flute was passed to one of his celebrated pupils, Elaine Shaffer. Efrem Kurtz, the distinguished conductor and widower of Shaffer, was next to inherit the flute before it was purchased at auction from Christie's in 1986, setting a world auction record for any flute sold at auction.