The Jean-Pierre Rampal 18k Gold Louis Lot no. 1375 from 1869


Lot flute No.1375, is made from 18-carat gold in 1869, had originally been sent to Shanghai as a retirement gift for the French flutist Jean Remusat who was president of the Shanghai Philharmonic Society. Somehow, it found its way back to Europe, albeit in pieces. The antiques dealer who’d acquired it had wanted to melt the instrument down for the gold, but selling it to the Rampals instead saved for posterity the flute equivalent of a Stradivarius.

With family help, Rampal raised enough funds to rescue the precious instrument, and went on to perform and record with it for 11 years. In interviews, Rampal said he thought the gold—by contrast with silver—made his naturally bright, sparkling sound "a little darker; the colour is a little warmer, I like it". Only in 1958, when presented during his debut US tour with a 14-carat gold instrument made after the Lot pattern by the William S. Haynes Flute Company of Boston, did Rampal stop using the 1869 original. After one final recording in London he consigned the golden Lot to the safety of a bank vault in France, and thereafter made the Haynes his concert instrument of choice.