Saxophone/C.G. Conn Alto Sax
QUESTION: I've had my sax since approximately 1962. It has the following inscribed:
PATD DEC 8 1914
1119954 (the 2nd "9" is difficult to read, but my best guess)
I am interested in knowing the value and any background.
What you have is a Conn New Wonder manufactured in the early 1920's. These were Conn's primary model from 1914 to 1930 and in that time they made tens of thousands of them. Therefore these horns are still fairly common. However due to their age, most are sitting in closets, under beds stashed in garages, etc and they usually some to alot of work to make them playable.
When they are up to par, and mated with the correct mouthpiece they have a very nice and dark tone. However the key layout is a antiquated compared to modern instruments. Someone that has never played a sax from this era, will need to spend some time with it to get used to the fingering layout.
Here is what the numbers on the back mean.
It was made by C.G. Conn in Elkhart Indiana.
Pat Dec 8, 1914 1119954 is a patten issued to Vern Powell for his invention of drawing tone holes out of the body of the horn instead of cutting holes and then soldering on the tone holes. If you look closely at the body, you will notice all the tone hole chimneys are part of the body and there are no solder or "welds" where the chimney meets the body. All manufactures who used this method had to list the patten date until it expired in 1939 and pay Mr. Powell a small fee. BTW... the Powell company is one of the biggest and best manufactures of professional flutes on the market today.
The "A" stands for Alto Sax
130825 is the serial number and how I was able to roughly date your sax.
The "L" stands for Low Pitch. Meaning this horn tunes to A-440 which is the standard tuning system still used in the United States and most of Western Europe. Conn did make a high pitch version which was mostly distributed in Germany, Austria and some of eastern Europe.
As far as value that really difficult as you didn't tell me what type of finish it has. Most horns made at this time were silver plated, but some were lacquered, and others had gold plate and there were a few variations. Also is the horn playable? That will have an effect on the horn. The best I can say is depending on condition and finish anywhere from $350 to $800. And thats if you are able to find a buyer.
I hope this helps
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QUESTION: Wow! I feel like I've just been on Antique Road Show!
A little more information for you:
The horn has a gold-tone or plated finish, which is worn on some of the keys. A number of the keys have what appears to be mother of pearl "buttons" on them. I still have the original case!
This is very fun! I think I'll hold on to this instrument for retirement (in a couple years) and join the Cascade Horizon Band (an amateur, but highly talented) senior band.
Thank you for all of your help!
The finish you have is most likely lacquer. This is a clear or coating with a little gold dye in it. It will rub off on areas where the players hands come in contact often. Palm keys, bell, etc. If the horn is truly gold plated, then there will be a layer of silver under the gold. Silver is much more resilient than gold and where the gold has come off there should be silver under that. Or if it's worn down to the brass, the worn area will be outlined in silver. They have to do this because gold does not stick to brass, but silver does and gold sticks to silver.
The pearl touch pieces are standard. As thats a Conn New Wonder those are real mother of pearl keys. Today most student models will use plastic, and only the pro horns get MOP.