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Saxophone/Vintage Saxophone value

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Charles,

I have two vintage saxes that we inherited from my husband's grandfather.  We have several musicians in our family, but none of us are sax players.  I'm interested in figuring out the value of these beautiful instruments, both in fully restored mint condition.  The first is a Conn (Elhart) silver Baritone Sax, with USN inscribed on the bell.  1914 #1119954 B 48258 L.  As I stated, mint condition.

The second is a Selmer Sopranino, from somewhere around the same time period.  Modele 26 #5281, enscribed Henri Selmer Paris.  (I suspect this is worth quite a bit more than the Bari.)

Can you help?

Thanks!

Answer
Zoe,

This are a couple of very interesting instruments. The fact that you said the baritone is in mint condition even more so. It's very difficult to place a value on these without seeing them or at least pictures. Therefore I'm going to hold off on giving you a value until I can see a few photo's of the instruments.

The Conn Baritone is a New Wonder series I. The serial number (48258) dates this horn from the late 1910's to maybe 1920, but not any newer than 1920. So the horn would easily be 90+ years old. The date stamped on the body is not a manufacture date, but a patent date. This has to do with the method used to create the tone holes as they are drawn from the body not soldered. Any company that used this method prior to 1941 had to post this date and patent number (1119954) on the horns and pay a small royalty to the patent holder Mr. W.S. Haynes of the Haynes flute company. The "B" stands for Baritone sax and the "L" stands for low pitch, meaning this instrument is tuned to A440 allowing it to be played with all modern ensembles. At the time of production some countries in Europe used a slightly different tuning method and were marked with an "H" for high pitch. These instruments were tuned to A452 and are now obsolete and very rare in the U.S. as all of them were distributed in Europe.

As you said it is in mint condition, I would like to see it. Often with instruments this old there are hidden issues just due to time, so it really should be looked over by a tech. Most of the horns made during this time were silver plated and I assume that may be the case here. Silver is a extremely durable finish and will hold up just about forever, but the pads, springs, screws, rods, etc can easily wear or corrode over time and these would need to be addressed by a technician.

Concerning the Selmer. Are you positive this is a sopranino and not a soprano? A sopranino is very rare compared to the sopranos. A soprano measures just over 2' long, a sopranino is going to be closer to 16 inches. So please send me photos and double check the length to verify what you have.

The problem with the Selmer Model 26 is that it's a Selmer, but it's early. There is a ton of mystique surrounding Selmer Saxophones and often the legends get in the way of the facts. For example if I told you I was in possession of one of the first cars ever designed by Ferdinand Porsche, and it's in my back yard and I'm willing to sell it to you for $500. All you have to do is fix it up, you might think it's an offer to good to be true. However most people don't realize his first design was the Volkswagen Beetle. Thats kind of the situation with the Selmer Model 22 and Model 26. At the time they were Selmer's first foray into the saxophone manufacturing business. These horns were based on the instruments being produced by the Sax family which at the time were working for Mr. Selmer, and already considered out of date when they were introduced. The only difference between the 22 and the 26 was the 26 had better engraving, however the bores of these horns were small compared to today's instruments and tend to sound very thin and don't project as well as the saxophones being produced in the U.S. at the same time. Selmer's reputation as a industry leader didn't start to grow until the next series of saxophones called the Super Series which includes the Radio Improved and the Cigar Cutter. However it was the introduction of the Balanced Action in 1936 that really turned the sax world on it's ear and created the basic design for all saxophones being produced today. So with that being said, I would say the Selmer may not be as worth as much as you think. If it is a sopranino that can be a good and bad thing as the value of something is only what the buyer and seller agrees on. So I could tell you it's worth a certain amount but finding a buyer may be difficult as a sopranino is just not sought after the way a soprano is. Even then it's a model 26 so a collector may be interested but they are not going to pay the same price as they would if it was a Selmer from the 1930's or newer.

If you could please send me some hi resolution photos of these instruments and focus on the pads, that would be great and I can give you some more information. Also a picture of the Selmer next to a tape measure to verify would be great. My personal e-mail is charles@harrisbandinstruments.com

Thanks and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Charles Harris  

Saxophone

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Charles Harris

Expertise

questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.

Experience

I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

Organizations
N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

Education/Credentials
St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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