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849

Clair Godfroy, ainé

Paris, France

Stamp: Each joint is stamped: (Head of Medusa?)/ (in oval cartouche)CLAIR/ (SCRIPT) Godfroy ainé/ A PARIS/ (below cartouche) monogram CG. The head and body each follow with: BREVETÉ; the headjoint alone bears the number: 705.

Comments: We are very fortunate at this moment to have the entire range of Godfroy flutes in our inventory. As an old recorder player frustrated by the limitations of the Traverso, I am delighted by the opportunities offered by the Godfroy 8 keyed flute. The tone is wonderful, and the tunes all make sense. Elements of this flute are awkward, though, so it is always a bit of a relief to pick up the Godfroy 1832 Boehm system flute. The same tone is in there, yet the great character of the 8 keyed flute is replaced by a wonderful reliability of pitch and tone quality. On these flutes there is also the minute loss of action through the ring keys with vaulted clutches. I almost hate to admit it, but I am absolutely delighted to pick up this wooden cylindrical flute after playing the lovely but difficult to manage ring keyed flute. The tone is overwhelmingly enchanting. The ease of playing astounds. It is almost as if my own inadequacies disappear. No wonder this flute was popular! Everything that one might want in the flute tone seems available. This flute, already mellowed by long use into a luxurious, sensuous, mink-coat tone, is the perfect flute for players. Where have we gone wrong today?

Material: This extraordinary flute is made of grenadilla(?) wood with silver keys and trim. The upper body tenon is covered in silver, apparently an original design. The lower body tenon is covered in brass, as a replacement for the original cork, to buttress the tenon. The pad washers all appear original, and are broad of width and made of white metal, except for the thumb key, which is the old gilt "high-hat" design. The headjoint socket is fitted with a tuning slide extending about 2.5 inches into the otherwise wooden head.

System: This is the model 2, grenadilla flute with silver keys, foot to low B. The original price was FF. 525. The B foot was not entirely unusual, appearing on at least 7 of the 43 cylindrical Godfroy flutes known. The D# is the Dorus key, with the wonderful and unique addition of a G# trill key; sort of half the Buffet trill arrangement. The headjoint has the usual "French Slide", leaving most of the head bore wood. The B thumb trill (C in French) is placed on the inside rod, thanks to the convenience afforded by the Dorus G# (see Godfroy #811 by comparison).

Condition: The condition of this flute is very good, yet it has been in use for many years and shows some signs of mileage. The embouchure is wider on the lower left side, curiously often seen on these flutes. The typical socket crack extends an inch or so beyond the socket, and is filled. The strap appears to have been removed at some time, and a few of the upper screws are worn. A tiny crack runs under the strap at this point, visible in the bore, which we filled with shellac. The tone holes are considerably undercut, yet completely in keeping with Godfroy wooden flutes. This gives these flutes a surprisingly free sound for the genre. There appears to be a lot of linseed oil sequestered in these undercuttings. The lower tenon, which has a very small hairline crack, was strengthened by fitting a brass sleeve where the cork had been, which very nicely slides into the footjoint socket much like the silver tenon on the upper body. These are all minor diversions, since the flute plays with a great sound, having all of the warmth and compression one expects, yet also a surprisingly free and clear tone.

Pitch: Pitched at A=440 with the headjoint out 2 mm.

Sounding Length: Sounding length 643 mm.

Measurements: Scale length 227 mm. Embouchure 11.75 x 10.21. Chimney 4.35 mm lower, 4.50 mm upper.

Weight: 442 g.

Case: In apparently original case.

Sorry, out on loan.

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Photographs (click to enlarge):

The stamps are worn on this well-loved flute, yet the number 705 remains clear on the headjoint.  We estimate this flute to have been made c. 1860, the very year that the Conservatoire officially ratified what was already a fact: Paris loved the cylinder flute.
The stamps are worn on this well-loved flute, yet the number 705 remains clear on the headjoint. We estimate this flute to have been made c. 1860, the very year that the Conservatoire officially ratified what was already a fact: Paris loved the cylinder flute.
The lower half of the flute shows Godfroy's mature mechanism, with the Dorus G# and the unique G# trill key.  Although other flutes exist with the G#-A trill keys here, no other flute that we have seen was made with just this G# trill lever.
The lower half of the flute shows Godfroy's mature mechanism, with the Dorus G# and the unique G# trill key. Although other flutes exist with the G#-A trill keys here, no other flute that we have seen was made with just this G# trill lever.
A closer view gives us the shape of the key cups, the unusual pointed arm on the G# cup, the slightly best G# touch, and the lovely trill mechanism for opening the Dorus G# key when it is closed by fingering the G.
A closer view gives us the shape of the key cups, the unusual pointed arm on the G# cup, the slightly best G# touch, and the lovely trill mechanism for opening the Dorus G# key when it is closed by fingering the G.
The upper mechanism shows the shoulder clutch for Bb, the mature French key cup, and the sculpted C# touch.
The upper mechanism shows the shoulder clutch for Bb, the mature French key cup, and the sculpted C# touch.
The beautiful ball-ended Godfroy and Lot thumb mechanism.  The French never referred to this as a Briccialdi Bb, and Boehm called it the
The beautiful ball-ended Godfroy and Lot thumb mechanism. The French never referred to this as a Briccialdi Bb, and Boehm called it the "thumb key of Lot". Here, as on most flutes, the thumb key is trilled via the tail slipping under the ball, instead of the Bb key on top as in today's flutes.
The magnificent B footjoint was established before Lot left the firm.
The magnificent B footjoint was established before Lot left the firm.
The footjoint touches are another of the few ways to determine the sequence of design at Godfroy's, and the flute historian Gary Lewis is keeping a sharp eye on these as they surface.  The major changes occur in the shape of the D# key, the curve of the C# key, the design where the rollers meet the shaft, and the clutching of the keys via their placement.
The footjoint touches are another of the few ways to determine the sequence of design at Godfroy's, and the flute historian Gary Lewis is keeping a sharp eye on these as they surface. The major changes occur in the shape of the D# key, the curve of the C# key, the design where the rollers meet the shaft, and the clutching of the keys via their placement.
The upper tenon is sheathed in silver.  This is a unique example of an attempt by Godfroy to marry the tube sockets of the metal flute with the large sockets of the wooden.  The silver fits perfectly with the silver lined socket.
The upper tenon is sheathed in silver. This is a unique example of an attempt by Godfroy to marry the tube sockets of the metal flute with the large sockets of the wooden. The silver fits perfectly with the silver lined socket.
The footjoint tenon was very modestly cracked, and the brass sleeve was fitted on where a cork joint had been.  This sleeve slides into the silver socket just like the headjoint and upper tenon.
The footjoint tenon was very modestly cracked, and the brass sleeve was fitted on where a cork joint had been. This sleeve slides into the silver socket just like the headjoint and upper tenon.