Wednesday May 2nd, 2012. Posted by Alex:

Antique Clinton flute for sale

Though I’ve been very fond of it, with six flutes in the cupboard and another likely to arrive, it’s time to say goodbye…

I’m just putting it on ebay, but this page gives you pictures and scope for comments.

Here nestling in its case

Top piece, showing the slight crack

Long joint

Lower joint

Bottom piece

All 4 pieces are stamped – here is the full mark on the long joint. It says:


Actually I’m having difficulty getting it on to ebay – they say I don’t have enough history to sell more than $500 in one month, though I’m going through a fiddly process that might lead to this limit being lifted.

Update: I’ve managed to prove that I am who I say I am, so it’s now on e-bay.

So here is the blurb I was putting there:

Antique “London” style wooden flute by Clinton, serial number 157. My best guess for the year of manufacture (based on the information at Terry McGee’s site: is around 1856. The wood is presumably cocus, but with the silver lip-plate there is no threat of allergic reactions.

It plays well at modern concert pitch. A few years ago, when it belonged to Harry Bradley, it was refurbished by Hammy Hamilton, just before I bought it. Harry told me he got it out of a general second-hand shop, so we know nothing more about its previous owners. In its years with me it has been kept properly moisturised and oiled.

All keys are in good order, though there is quite a knack to getting the bottom C and C# keys to seat cleanly. For Irish music, which is what it has been playing for the last decade or more, that is of course not very important.

Like any orchestral flute of that vintage, it has the full set of keys – apart from the bottom C and C# there is Eb, long and short Fnat keys, Ab, Bb, Cnat and the intriguing “brille” Clinton designed to get over the need to compromise on the pitches of Cnat and C#. If you aren’t familiar with the brille, don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything about it – the whole point is that it works automatically, so that the typical, easy, two-fingers down Cnat is well in tune (as is the keyed Cnat), and so is the all-open C#. (Players will know what I mean here, I think.)

There is a small crack in the barrel that slides out for tuning in the head piece – there is a picture you can see at the link above. It is important to recognise that this section is entirely lined with metal, so this crack has no effect at all on the playing, which is why I have not worried about it. Unfortunately these cracks are not uncommon on older flutes of this design.

Sound clips are available.

I am thinking of asking EUR 2000, plus shipping, though I haven’t researched the market yet. Mail me at if you are interested. I’m currently located in Italy, and would prefer a sale in the general European region – it’s legally much simpler.

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