Godfroy, Claire, ainé Flûte Perfectionée

Instrument: Flûte Perfectionée, extremely fine cocus wood, German Silver rings and keys?, original tenon caps, cork grease container, case with working lock and key, screwdriver. The case is dated August 25, 1879

Maker: Claire Godfroy, Anié, Paris

Pitch: 435-440

Sounding Length:

Total Length:

Embouchure size:

Restorer: Mark Leone


For me, this is one of the most interesting designs of the simple system flute. The original early ones by Tulou, Nonon, and Godfroy are superb instruments made with the most exacting quality and fantastic materials.

The Flûte Perfectionée (FP) was a special type of simple system flute invented by Jean-Louis Tulou(1786-1865), and made together with Jacques Nonon (1802-1877). They began working together in 1831 and Tulou had his own shop starting in 1828. The two worked together until 1853 when Nonon went off on his own. He continued making the FP he closed in 18xx. Other makers began adopting the “Tulou System,” although the later manufactured ones are not at the same level of workmanship and materials as Tulou and Nonon. Another example of top-tier FP making are the 2 known examples of the FP by the firm Claire Godfroy, ainé. These 2 flutes are exceptional and every bit as wonderful as the flutes from Tulou and Nonon. 

These flutes were Tulou’s answer to the Boehm flute. Tulou was not in favor of the adoption of the Boehm flute and prevented it from being taught at the Paris Conservatoire. As early as 1838?, he is known to have told people he was working on a new perfected flute model working under the old simple system, but with improvements. One can see immediately that it is built with rods and axels, like a Boehm flute. Despite this, the normal 6 holes remain in their usual location with no keys. The design of the foot joint was already quite standard and derived from the Boehm design. The other keys, which were normally quite long, such as the high trills which go from the right hand to the top of the flutes are now driven by the modern rods and axels. Even a key like the long F is on a rod. It is important to note that the FP of Tulou and Nonon can have various features. They were generally C-foot but there are B-foot examples, but I would not be surprised if there are D-foot examples. Various mechanisms for the Tulou F# can be found, and the left hand C key on the top of the flute was a common option. We find that key also on flute by other makers. The thumb Bb and C keys found on many FP.

Many other makers marketed models of FP. These are usually mass produced, like those of Thibouville. My sense is that these are literally the same body as their standard flutes with the Tulou-style keywork added. The FP flutes of Tulou and Nonon are always made of exceptional materials with stunning workmanship, while other manufacturers seem cheap by comparison. 

The Tulou F#, while not invented for this flute, is present in a somewhat improved arrangement, using a rod to get the touch closer to the D# key, as the little finger plays the Tulou F# instead of the D# when the Tulou F# is used. The purpose of the key is to raise the pitch of the F# to where it is in equal temperament. This is accomplished by opening a small hole between holes 4 and 5, which raises the pitch. This invention became fairly popular and it can be found on many late 19th century French flutes, even cheap ones. With the added keys to yield and 8-key flute, all the notes can be played in equal temperament, should one want to do so, except the normal F#, which even fingered with the F nat key in addition to the D# and finger 4, is low to equal tuning. It is perfectly fine for tuning where a pure third with D is desired. The Tulou F# allows you to play either the normal low F# or the raised equal tempered F#. Please see also my Nonon Flûte Perfectionée which has a more complicated F# mechanism using two ring keys plus a linkage to the D# key. In the photos below I have included the original design of this key from one of Tulou’s own 7-key flutes, this Godfroy key, and more advanced Nonon mechanism.

Interesting connections: Nonon’s sister married Nicolas Chambille (1773-1849) whose Auguste François Chambille (1827-1881) who worked for Nonon. He ended up buying the shop from Nonon in 1856. He was also associated with the Debpnneetbeau shop and eventually he bought the Louis Lot shop, which he ran from 1882-1889. Auguste Chambille’s own son was foreman and eventually became director of the Lot shop. The family ran the shop until 1951. It is also interesting to note that Tulou was a big supporter and collaborator with the Godfroy shop and was involved with their fantastic designs. Previously, Bellissent was known as the supplier of flutes to Tulou but his affections seem to have switched to Godfroy.

Godfroy often sold their more expensive flutes in the style of case shown below. This would include the name and address of the company, and sometime the date. In this case, August 25, 1879. 

Tulou flutes not by Tulou: The large instrument making firm Couesnon purchased the right to use both the Tulou name and its logo and flutes of their own creation. Here is a piccolo that falls into this group. 

For more details on the keys and fingerings, scroll down...

From initial comparisons of this 1879 flute to other examples by Nonon, Tulou, and Godfroy, I assume that Godfroy got the keywork from someone already setup to make the FP keys. They are extremely similar to my Nonon flute and, although the key cup design is slightly different, this example is extremely similar to the other Godfroy FP. To me, it makes sense that these would have been made together, probably as a batch with a few more flutes. These other flutes were either lost or just not known to me or French and American collector associates. Another possibility is that these were incomplete flute purchased at the closing of Nonon’s shop and finished by Godfroy. There are many possibilities…

Condition: The condition of this flute is extremely fine. I don’t see any repairs and the pads are very old, some may be original. The case is fully functional and in good working order. There are a few keys that are slightly bent so the colide with other keys. It plays quite well as received, but will be even better following a couple of new pads and adjustments.

Demonstration recordings: pending

Special thumb keys for C and Bb - typically simple system flutes just have a Bb key

Godfroy FP restored 14
Godfroy FP restored 13
Godfroy FP restored 1
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Godfroy FP restored 8
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Godfroy FP restored 10
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Godfroy FP restored Godfroy FP restored 3
Godfroy FP restored


Godfroy FP 6 keys

© Michael Lynn, 2014 - 2023 - some of these flutes are available for purchase - please contact me for further information