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934

Claude Laurent

Paris, France

Stamp: Engraved on headjoint socket: (caps) C. LAURENT A PARIS 1822 / (script) Brevete

Comments: The 1820's were an exciting time for musicians in Paris. The disaster of the royal restoration had softened somewhat, and the Conservatoire was being renewed, culminating in the formation of the Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire in 1828. The flutes were being transformed into true Romantic instruments, and Laurent remained in the vanguard of innovate flutemakers, even if his flutes were too expensive for professionals. By 1832 Laurent was such a respected flutemaker that Theobald Boehm made a special visit to Laurent's shop to show him the new ring-keyed flute. The instrument presented here was clearly a respected flute. The key touches show typical wear from use, yet the instrument was never dropped or mishandled. This flute must have been very well maintained for it to have been in use yet remain in such good condition. This instrument has been little touched since her glory days in Paris. Although the old pads forbid a full scale, the left-hand notes are available and give a full, bold, and clear tone with even pitch (c. A=440).

Material: This Laurent flute is made of crystal glass, with silver keys and trim. The cork is a fitted disk of glass, which is not fixed (they usually are glued tight). The crown is blue glass. The springs are steel. The pads are flat leather and are very old. They are two layers of leather disks. The little catch on the headjoint socket is silver over steel. The glass design is fluted, with a frosted interior. This texture given to the glass holds the moisture evenly around the inner tube, which turns the flute transparent while in use.

System: This is an eight keyed flute with foot to C. The keywork is extremely sophisticated for this period, with guides for the long keys, specially shaped steel springs, and a footjoint mechanism of great creativity. The headjoint is fitted with a small tuning slide, possibly establishing the French tradition of a partial slide. The midjoint's lower tenon is a threaded bronze (?) screw-in design, introduced by Laurent around 1819. This flute represents the second great period of Laurent's keymaking, characterized by creative ways to deal with the footjoint keys, the tenons, and the tuning slide. The D# key is still articulated. The C and C# footjoint keys are made with a sophisticated square swivel, allowing lateral motion but no rotation of the pad. By 1826 it appears that another keymaker worked in the shop, and the swiveled D# was abandoned. This design period extends roughly from 1819 to 1826. These are also the years in which Godfroy and Bellisent were establishing their reputations, and also experimenting with key design.

Condition: This beautiful flute is in excellent original condition, with some signs of wear from use, and some modest scaling of the glass (environmental wear). Someone within the last fifty years cleaned the silver bits with a sharp tool, and minor scratches appear here and there. The embouchure is perfect. There are no breaks or cracks in the glass. The A tone hole has a tiny chip. There is curious wear to the metal disk on the top of the midjoint upper tenon, almost looking like water-corrosion from considerable playing. The keys look well used, with finger-polishing where one would expect on the silver touches. All the keys are in excellent function. The pads are very old, if not original. Only the long F pad is new. This flute has been well used and well loved. It was clearly considered an excellent and useful flute, during the days when Dorus was a student of Guillou at the Conservatoire.

Pitch: Pitch seems to be A=438-441 with slide compressed. Individual playing dramatically affects the pitch of these flutes.

Sounding Length: Sounding length 587 mm.

Measurements: Embouchure 9.64 x 10.60 mm. Bore at tuning slide 18.7 mm.

Case: In modern case; wooden case available if desired.

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Photographs (click to enlarge):

This lovely Laurent was made in Paris in 1822.  The hallmarks are a rabbit's head on the right and the diamond of the silversmith.  The recently invented (possibly at Laurent's) little French slide can be seen coming out of the bottom of the headjoint.  Brevete means patented, referring to Laurent's 1806 patent for making glass flutes. (note: photos by Gene Sagerman).
This lovely Laurent was made in Paris in 1822. The hallmarks are a rabbit's head on the right and the diamond of the silversmith. The recently invented (possibly at Laurent's) little French slide can be seen coming out of the bottom of the headjoint. Brevete means patented, referring to Laurent's 1806 patent for making glass flutes. (note: photos by Gene Sagerman).
Here at the crown of the headjoint we see the fine silverwork on the cap, which screws out to access the blue glass crown, and the glass
Here at the crown of the headjoint we see the fine silverwork on the cap, which screws out to access the blue glass crown, and the glass "cork" stopper. The hallmarks show the maker's diamond for Jean Dupin and son, who had a gallery at the Palais Royal, near Laurent's shop.
French keymaking was still in development in the early 1820's.  The flat, unstuffed pads were still in use, and the beautiful French arms awaited Louis Lot's arrival in Paris.  Nonetheless, Laurent was always at the cutting edge of keymaking, as this little guidepost to keep the C key precise demonstrates.
French keymaking was still in development in the early 1820's. The flat, unstuffed pads were still in use, and the beautiful French arms awaited Louis Lot's arrival in Paris. Nonetheless, Laurent was always at the cutting edge of keymaking, as this little guidepost to keep the C key precise demonstrates.
Flutemakers were bedeviled by the placement of the G# key, which really wants to be in the middle of the socket.  Laurent placed it perpendicular to the bore, with a 90 degree touch, which became a characteristic of most French makers.  With Laurent's handy new screw-in tenon, he had to bring the arm to an off-center position on the G# pad.  The C key needs to vault over this G# arrangement.
Flutemakers were bedeviled by the placement of the G# key, which really wants to be in the middle of the socket. Laurent placed it perpendicular to the bore, with a 90 degree touch, which became a characteristic of most French makers. With Laurent's handy new screw-in tenon, he had to bring the arm to an off-center position on the G# pad. The C key needs to vault over this G# arrangement.
The top of the midjoint tenon shows a slight disfigurement, which looks curiously like corrosion due to moisture.
The top of the midjoint tenon shows a slight disfigurement, which looks curiously like corrosion due to moisture.
The long F also has a pin-guide near the pad, to keep it from swaying.
The long F also has a pin-guide near the pad, to keep it from swaying.
The footjoint keys combine a round version of the old swiveled D# with an intriguing set-up for the lower keys.  Here we see the C# directly under the C, with the spring from the C key springing off of the C#, keeping both keys open with one spring.
The footjoint keys combine a round version of the old swiveled D# with an intriguing set-up for the lower keys. Here we see the C# directly under the C, with the spring from the C key springing off of the C#, keeping both keys open with one spring.
The C and C# keys are not swiveled on an axle, yet appear to make use of something similar to Monzani's patent self-seating partial swivel, whereby the larger disk (with the pad) floats just enough to sit the thick leather pad cleanly on the hole.  On this flute the key is made with a square insert under the screw head, leaving just enough motion for the pad to
The C and C# keys are not swiveled on an axle, yet appear to make use of something similar to Monzani's patent self-seating partial swivel, whereby the larger disk (with the pad) floats just enough to sit the thick leather pad cleanly on the hole. On this flute the key is made with a square insert under the screw head, leaving just enough motion for the pad to "adjust", but not flop around (see later photos).
Gazing past the nicely turned bottom silver ring we see the C key, with the thick leather pad, the large, floating silver disk, a little brass piece between, and the screw connector on top.  This assembly can tilt, but not rotate.
Gazing past the nicely turned bottom silver ring we see the C key, with the thick leather pad, the large, floating silver disk, a little brass piece between, and the screw connector on top. This assembly can tilt, but not rotate.