Auguste Bonneville
Serial # 2155; Paris; 1886(?); silver plated body and mechanism, soldered tone holes; sl 600mm; 372g; .012"h .012"b

Auguste Bonneville was a 19th century Parisian silver-smith who subcontracted for V. H. Godfroy, and Louis Lot. In 1876 he set up his own workshop, making fine professional quality flutes for many years. His flutes were, and are, especially admired for their superior workmanship, lovely, characterful sound, and somewhat larger embouchures, which allow a bigger, more projected sound than the earlier flutes by Lot and Godfroy.

G# and Back Connector
R4 keywork
David Chu at Sideblown Technologies bought this instrument in 1997 from an auction in Vichy France. It was not playing but in good shape for restoration. He cleaned it up, repadded it, fitted the tenons, and tightened the mechanism. He loves to repair these old flutes and make them sing again.

Keywork is wonderfully finished with delicacy and panache.  Just note the way the low C# key is sculpted to match the scrollwork of the C roller.  The tonehole solder has held up well, and the plating is in remarkable shape with no pitting and only a little wear on the thumb key and near the embouchure.  Even the engraving is crisp.

The only real sign of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is the slight separation of the embouchure riser from the head tube (see the twinkle of light in the lower left image).  Whether or not this is the result of an attempt to "improve" the embouchure, the flute speaks strongly with the bright, powerful sound of a thinwall plated instrument.  Rather than attempt to repair or restore the embouchure when the flute still sings, I just injected a bit of clear fingernail polish from behind to seal the seam.

At just 372 grams, this flute floats to the lip. When flute folk speak highly of the timbre of the early plated French flutes, they aren't just settling for an instrument inferior in any way to the solid silver flutes of comparable vintage.  Each speaks with an accent all its own that even my tin American ear can detect....

Flying Saucer Crown
Embouchure with cracked riser

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