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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a wonderful older Selmer Flute that I have been performing on for 45 years now that I've been trying to find information about and amazingly I've had very little luck. I contacted Patricia George at Flute Talk and Sherry Lee at Emerson-DeFord and both had no information and suggested I contact Conn-Selmer directly. The Conn-Selmer website had a serial # list but my flute/serial # is not in in that list. I bought this flute back in 1972 from my teacher, Ronald Naroff when he bought himself another flute - Mr Naroff I believe was a Selmer artist himself at one point.

I then communicated with Bob Licht, Manager for Woodwinds at Conn-Selmer. This was in 2016. He went through their in-house records and told me that: "Unfortunately we do not have records that show this instrument. Some of our brands have awesome historical info, and, sadly, some do not. I wish I could help more."

Just recently I learned that this flute is probably a Model 83: "Custom built Louis Lot Replica, exact duplicate of Lot original tube of hard cold-drawn coin silver, low Lot type soldered tone holes, Louis Lot scale, open holes, handmade throughout, closed G-sharp, made to order, $250." This quote comes from: Susan M. Berdahl, "The first hundred years of the Boehm flute in the United States, 1845-1945: a biographical dictionary of American Boehm flutemakers" Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1986, 703-705, 727-728).

With that information in hand I did a google search and came across this thread!

$250 in 1935 was quite a bit of money. I wonder if anyone here might know if it's kept its relative value ($250 in 1935 = 4,873.25 today). Or if it's increased or decreased?

I'm also wondering if anyone has compared a Selmer Model 83 (or similar flute) with any current flutes and, if so, how it compares - both favorably or unfavorably? I have been playing this flute for so long that I'm sure my playing style has accommodated itself to this instruments idiosyncrasies. I have read that these older flutes can have intonation and other problems. I'm wondering if my playing and tone would have anything to gain by getting, for example, a Yamaha YFL-677HCT (Professional Open Whole Flute, Low B Foot, offset G, C# Trill). If the Seller has retained its value the Yamaha actually costs less than the Selmer.

As much as this flute has been a part of my life, I am now retired an have the freedom to return to performing regularly. I would like to do so with the best flute I can afford. At whatever point in the future that it comes where my children will inherit my stuff my musical instruments will not really have any value to them beyond resale value. I'm not a collector, I just want to perform on the best sounding/responding flute I can.

These are the details for the instrument:
Selmer Flute: Open hole, B-foot
REG.US.PAT.OFF
Elkhart-Ind.
S-3643

105640

105641
 

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I've never seen a picture of a Louis Lot flute with that style of keycups, so what you have there I believe could not be described as an exact copy of a LL flute. Does it have soldered or drawn toneholes?
 

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Well Bruce Bailey is sort of our resident expert on this type of stuff so he'll probably be able to give you a more complete run-down but I'd be very surprised to find out that this flute is worth $4k. It may be worth more to a collector than a player since it appears to be an unusual instrument.

Regardless you owe it to yourself to at least try some modern flutes. They are generally easier to play, brighter, more projecting, and have better intonation. That being said, lots of folks still prefer vintage instruments especially old Powells and Haynes Commercial models. I wouldn't limit myself to just Yamaha either. I'd start with a budget and then try instruments from several manufacturers that are in that range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've never seen a picture of a Louis Lot flute with that style of keycups, so what you have there I believe could not be described as an exact copy of a LL flute. Does it have soldered or drawn toneholes?
They're soldered, I'm pretty sure. The recent info I received was from an appraiser who only saw it online. He's the one who told me it was a Model 83 and provided the info and quote from the Susan M. Berdahl. The quote regarding the Model 83 is direct from her book: Custom built Louis Lot Replica, exact duplicate of Lot original tube of hard cold-drawn coin silver, low Lot type soldered tone holes, Louis Lot scale, open holes, handmade throughout, closed G-sharp, made to order, $250."
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well Bruce Bailey is sort of our resident expert on this type of stuff so he'll probably be able to give you a more complete run-down but I'd be very surprised to find out that this flute is worth $4k. It may be worth more to a collector than a player since it appears to be an unusual instrument.

Regardless you owe it to yourself to at least try some modern flutes. They are generally easier to play, brighter, more projecting, and have better intonation. That being said, lots of folks still prefer vintage instruments especially old Powells and Haynes Commercial models. I wouldn't limit myself to just Yamaha either. I'd start with a budget and then try instruments from several manufacturers that are in that range.
It must be fairly unusual/rare since even Selmer couldn't give me any detailed information on it, other than to confirm it as one of theirs and tell me that the records for that period don't exist.

Budget-wise I was thinking $4000-$5000.
 

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Well that's not much of a surprise as you're asking about information on something that was a special custom order item 85 years ago.

That kind of budget will put a lot of very nice flutes in range especially if you don't mind going for a pre-owned instrument. There are lots of lightly used lower-end proline flutes that can be had for $3-$5k - flutes that would retail new for $5-$8k. Check out what's available in your area. Unless you are really in the middle of nowhere there's a good chance you have some small shops or flute dealers nearby. Most of the big dealers will also send you several instruments to try if you find the local options are limited.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the info Keith. That makes sense. We're moving to Austin within the year - I assume in that area there will be at least a few good places to check out flutes.
 

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Well, that flute does not look like a Louis Lot copy to me. That doesn't mean it's not a fine instrument.

If you're satisfied with the flute, why bother with new ones? If not, what you're not satisfied with should drive your next steps. Concepts in head joints have advanced a lot in the last 85 years, so if you'd like to work on tone concept, that's where I'd focus. Mechanism design and quality of mid-grade flutes is miles ahead of where it was before 1980; I don't know whether your flute's mechanism is Haynes/Powell 1930s quality, or Armstrong/Artley 1930s quality. If the latter, the new Japanese flutes will feel remarkable to you.

If it's a copy of the Louis Lot scale, that's an A=435 scale made to play sort of at 440 by making the head joint short, thus the long octave that generations of flute teachers have told their students is an inherent nature of the flute (it isn't). In that case you would probably find less manipulation required to play in tune with a modern instrument built to a true A=440 scale. If it's based on the models that the Haynes Commercial, Armstrong, etc. were based on, it is a true A=440 scale and a modern instrument probably won't be all that much different as to intonation.

I don't know about Austin but Dallas has Carolyn Nussbaum Music which is one of the top flute shops in the US, with a very large selection from basic student models to very expensive instruments. They will also be able to give you some firm information on your flute, especially if they can see it in person.
 

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That looks to be a standard Selmer Elkhart and from ones I have owned, that serial number looks to be newer. I have a few here and will take a look at the pad cups. The ones I have had were sterling with a thick .022" body but never sold for more than $1K completely overhauled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That looks to be a standard Selmer Elkhart and from ones I have owned, that serial number looks to be newer. I have a few here and will take a look at the pad cups. The ones I have had were sterling with a thick .022" body but never sold for more than $1K completely overhauled.
Thanks Bruce... appreciate the info.
 

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For anything Louis Lot related, even just to see how much of a replica yours really is, I’d be contacting people who are deep into those flutes- David Chu, Gary Lewis and the like
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For anything Louis Lot related, even just to see how much of a replica yours really is, I’d be contacting people who are deep into those flutes- David Chu, Gary Lewis and the like
Hi Benny. I don't know either of those people - are they here on the board or?
 

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OK...I dug out some Selmer oldies. First is S-4227 which is unmarked as far as to the type of silver and has drawn and rolled tone holes and the roller C# on the foot. The second one is S-5017 which is marked COIN SILVER and looks to have straight soldered tone holes. This seems odd as drawn was their common type which it "may" be. It took a lot of magnification and the workmanship is so good it could be either but since no roll, I vote soldered. It has the normal C# spatula. By the time your flute was made, C# rollers were not being used but mine could have been a special order.The keycups on mine look like yours. I have never heard of any LL connection on these and Selmer probably has very little knowledge about any flute more than 30 years old. Bottom line, you flute has the advantage of open hole and low B which flutist prefer but they usually don't look for a Selmer. These are very heavy flutes at about .022" and even the Haynes standard model was about .018".
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
OK...I dug out some Selmer oldies. First is S-4227 which is unmarked as far as to the type of silver and has drawn and rolled tone holes and the roller C# on the foot. The second one is S-5017...
Wow... thank you Bruce, I appreciate all that effort. Like your S-4227 mine is unmarked as far as the type of silver but like the S=50-17 it seems to have straight soldered tone holes. I think the appraiser was either giving me some generic info or leading me to think the flute was worth more than it was to have me go ahead and pay for the appraisal.

The Bottom line as you say - and others here have indicated is that it is most likely a decent old Seller flute but not an LL or anything very special.

Still, it's served me well. I think when I move out to Austin I'll take that trip over to Carolyn Nussbaum Music in Dallas, have them take a look at it in person and see what it might be worth as a trade in, and try out a bunch of modern flutes.
 

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The Bottom line as you say - and others here have indicated is that it is most likely a decent old Seller flute but not an LL or anything very special.
Yes, and my guess is that it wouldn’t sell for much more that it originally costed , not overhauled.

No way this would ever be worth anywhere near the equivalent $4,873 of today

trading this is will probably be not a good idea. The shop will probably not be interested and if they are they will give you little against the purchase a flute at premium price.

Nobody is looking to add another difficult o sell flute to the stack of flutes which were traded in and never sold over the years. ( I know that shows have often piles and piles of this category).

My guess is that you can sell this and see if someone gets enticed by the fact that it isn’t a common model then you take that money ( whatever it is) and buy yourself as great a Muramatsu your money can buy secondhand and overhauled ( arguably the best flutes made today ).

You will discover a completely different dimension in fluteland.


Incidentally, I looked up the Selmer Model 83

I found a model 82

105795



this person discussing this flute (very different from yours) talked about the fact that he may look for a model 83 ( I doubt yours was one)

 

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That makes sense. Probably best to sell it myself. Thanks.

yes, I have added some info ^ your flute doesn’t seem to be a Selmer 83 and there is not reason to suppose it is even coin silver ( you can have this tested)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
yes, I have added some info ^ your flute doesn’t seem to be a Selmer 83 and there is not reason to suppose it is even coin silver ( you can have this tested)
My teacher who I bought from back in the '70s said it was silver. I do hope he wasn't lying.
 
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