Claude Laurent

Paris, France

Stamp: Engraved on headjoint socket: (script) Laurent / � Paris, 1815 ,


Manufacture Date: The flute is dated 1815, which was a very prolific year for the Laurent shop. Actually, the keywork and the hallmark suggest that the flute was made a few years earlier, probably just prior to 1810 as the hallmarks suggest. We believe that the owner had to hide his Napoleonic allegiance, which would have been obvious simply by owning a Laurent from 1809, by changing the date to 1815. One other possibility could be that Laurent was so overwhelmed with orders in 1815, when his customer list swelled thanks to the influx of adoring English and Germans, that he had to reach into the drawer for keys.

Hallmarks: Hallmarked on rings and keys with the staff of wheat with ax head on the end, the mark of silver purity in Paris used between June 19, 1798 and August 31, 1809.

Comments: This is a very fine example of Laurent's flute work. The instrument plays perfectly, among the best of the Laurent's. The tone is intense and full and extremely compelling. The glass is in perfect condition, with none of the scaling or pitting often seen. There is a lovely school of bubbles in the glass, showing how clean and pure the instrument remains. The typical scaling of the zinc content in the glass has simply not occurred.

Material: This beautiful crystal glass flute is made with silver keys and trim, steel springs, a blue (possibly lapis) cabochon in the crown.

System: This is a four keyed flute with two midjoints. No tuning slide in headjoint. The two midjoints suggest that the owner was fastidious, with an eye to the past and an ear to the present. The D# key is rectangular and swiveled. The F key curves completely around the top of the flute. The G# keys are at 90 degrees, with a small stub touch. All springs except the D# rest on the glass. The tubes for the pivot screws for the keys are lined with a steel bushing, I believe.

Condition: This flute is in excellent original condition. The glass is perfect. One pillar, for the D# key, is loose and was glued on for repair. The wood spacer under the blue crown is new. The catch-hook on the heartpiece socket is missing. The original shellac at the headjoint stopper has discolored over time, as usual. Everything else appears perfect.

Pitch: This fascinating flute is a finicky lover. She only accepts the air she wants, usually less than one expects. I found the long joint to come together the best at A=417 when pulled out about 3 mm. All the way in, it seems to play at A=425. This flute responds to one's mind. The short joint seems to play at A=438 all the way in, and down from there. This instrument responds so delicately to one's breath and intent, yet always with a full and wonderful tone, I suspect the actual original pitch is a mystery hidden deep within this flute, to be discovered only by a player with the exact, perhaps mystical, key. The search is definitely worthwhile.

Sounding Length: Sounding lengths 552 mm and 545 mm.


Weight: Weight with long joint 498 g.; short joint 494 g.

Case: The wooden case is a later replacement.

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