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Discussion Starter #1
Selmer - USA, Paris, a bit of both?

Hello,

I bought this flute, very cheap with the intention of trying to see if it was worth bringing back to life or turn it into a lamp.

As I was inspecting it I found it odd, seems to me that the body is from a Selmer USA, nothing special about it, but the head and foot don't seem to belong and may be in fact from an early Selmer Paris flute. Can someone chime in and help me out with figuring this one out?

View attachment 226024 View attachment 226026 View attachment 226028 View attachment 226030 View attachment 226032


Thanks

(Edited to change Conn to USA)
 

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Well, first of all what you have there is an old flute, so "Conn-Selmer" has no meaning for this flute. "Conn-Selmer" is a recent construction and did not exist before about 10 years ago.

The keycups are a slightly unusual design and are exactly the same on boty and foot, so you can definitely know that the foot joint is originally mated to the body.

I couldn't tell whether the head joint is original, but given the age and probable low value of the instrument, it seems unlikely someone went out and sourced a different head. That is also a fairly new phenomenon in the flute world. When I was a youngster, flute players just played the head the thing came with.

I believe all Selmer flutes were made by/for Selmer USA and that none were made by Selmer Paris, but I could be wrong about that. My understanding is that if you have one of the solid silver Selmer flutes it's a better instrument than one would think; not in the class of the old Haynes Commercial closed-hole flutes, but definitely better than the Armstrongs and Gemeinhardts and Artleys of the same time frame. So, in the context of flutes from the 40s through 60s you may have a considerably better than average flute for those flutes not marked Powell or Haynes.

My guess is that it won't play as well as a 300 series or above Yamaha, though.

I think it's way better than lamp fodder. What you do with it depends on how many flutes you have, how much you play flute, etc.
 

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Selmer USA is the manufacturer of this flute, it doesn’t seem to be of any great quality

The Conn-Selmer group was formed in 2003 , they didn't exist yet when this Selmer USA was made

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conn-Selmer

Selmer did make their own flutes , after they bought the atelier Barbier in Paris , made flutes there from the beginning of the 20th century

they were marked Henri Selmer France

View attachment 226034
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Pardon my senile moment, I meant USA vs Paris/France, not Conn.

About the head and the foot, the thing for me that doesn't make too sense is the different serial number 944 on both this parts, that doesn't appear on the body, having a separate serial and numbering system.

From this thread I found a foot with double rollers like the one on my flute, which Bruce Bailey says "The double roller on the foot stopped sometime in the 1930s. ": https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...te-mysteries&p=1994135&viewfull=1#post1994135


If that is the case and they stopped before the 30s, I think that the body isn't that old, and was matched to the foot and head later on, but I can be wrong.
 

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it really doesn’t look that old and the two parts seem to be made from the same materials (as the keys are).
 

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This may be an all silver flute. There were a lot like it made in the 30s-40s and are VERY good heavy wall flutes. Selmer US for sure.
 

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Well, I see the different numbers on head and foot. My guess is that those are not supposed to be serial numbers but are something else like model numbers. Certainly the foot joint and the middle joint are from the exact same make and model of flute, with exactly the same appearance of the finish (same degree of tarnish, same degree of polish).

At any rate, I think it is much better than the usual student flute from its period. I don't know what the double roller foot joint would tell you about its age.
 

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The serial number on the body has been altered as the font is not correct for that flute. The keywork is correct for a Selmer pro flute of the era.
 

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Yeah, I noticed the main SN looked suspicious. At any rate, I would have a COA (clean, oil, adjust) done and check it out. I think you have a pretty good flute there. And as I have noted twice, just to add to Bruce's comment, the keywork is identical between foot and center joint. I think the chance that they were not together from a long time ago, if not from the factory, is vanishingly small.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So the serial number that shouldn't be there is the one on the main body. I agree with you now, the flute is all complete from the same one. The body relates to the foot and the head has the same serial number than the foot.

About it beeing all silver, I'm going home next saturday and look at the flute with closer attention to see if I can make out any markings and such. But I guess I'm starting to be convinced not to turn it into a lamp.
 

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At any rate, please don't turn it into a lamp. If it's surplus to your requirements, I bet someone here would be happy to take it off your hands and play it.

You can tell whether the tubes are solid silver or not by checking at the head joint and main joint tenons where any plating will have been worn by inserting into the mating parts. The nickel alloy has a different color. Looking at your pictures I would guess that the head joint at least is solid, though lighting in a photo can fool you. It's harder to tell whether the keyword is solid or plated unless you see a place where the plating's worn off or pitted. You may be able to tell at the ends of the hinge tubes of the keywork.

It really doesn't matter anyway. If you bought this flute for a very cheap price, you will have (I believe) a darn good flute for little money after a COA. Or if you don't need another good mid-grade closed hole flute, pass it on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The head of the flute has 3 significant dents in the joint, despite beeing able to insert itslef into the tenon of the main body. This I think will prevent any COA to make it play, has it needs a deeper intervention. Also I think some posts need alignment.

I will check all these over the next weekend and think what I'll do with it.
 

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For reference, I have one with new pads for $950 so you may have a good flute on your hands. I would get it ready to play and enjoy it. These are very dark players and a good doublers' horn.
 

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Discussion Starter #14

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Well, it's hard to tell color on a computer screen, but to me the head joint tenon looks the same color as the polished part, just different luster from having been installed thousands of times and never having been polished. You can tell, being in front of it, better than I can. Why don't you get some good metal polish (I like Simichrome) and polish the tenon to a high shine, then let it sit for a few days and see if it has the same or different color as the rest?

Secondly, it is by no means mandatory that a solid silver flute have hallmarks. Although most manufacturers of sterling silver flutes stamp the word "sterling" somewhere, this isn't mandatory, and besides this particular instrument might be made of coin silver which was also used for some flutes back in the day; and then it certainly wouldn't be stamped either with a sterling silver hallmark or the word "sterling". ("Coin silver" does NOT mean made from actual coins! It is another "term of art" used to refer to a specific alloy. If I remember correctly, sterling is 92.5% silver and "coin silver" is 90%.)

Any competent repair person can slide a mandrel up inside that head joint and roll those dents out in about ten minutes. Those are standard middle school dents caused by a kid holding the flute vertically and letting it bang into the bottom lip of a music stand.

The sleeve on the main body on many flutes is made of nickel alloy plated with silver, even if the main tubes are sterling, so you can't go by that.

Whether or not the flute is all-silver, silver tubes and plated keywork, or all plated nickel alloy, really has little bearing on its playing qualities. My bet would be that it will play well, though maybe not as well as a modern professional instrument, and for that matter it may have a better scale than an open hole French style flute of the same age.

I still maintain that you have a 1930s era flute because of some evidence: the double roller foot joint, the unusual keycup shape, the typeface style of the engraving, the spherical adjusting screw bosses. My knowledge is limited, though, and I certainly could be wrong about that.
 

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By the way, if you want something to make a lamp out of, why don't you just get one of those old nickel plated Bundys? Those really do find the best purpose as lamps.
 
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