Saxophone/Vintage sax #2
This is my second question. The first was sent just minutes ago regarding another vintage sax. I mentioned I thought it was a Horton but I meant to type Holton.
On to my second horn. I have a vintage tenor sax made by CS Conn. again, the name and place made is front and center on this big horn and is highly embellished with a leaf and ribbon design. The horn is silver and a friend told me it had at least one note pad on this horn is no longer put on new sax's. On the back it has these marks. First the letter T. Next the numbers 35557. Last the letter L.
It has a brass mouth piece made by Bob Dukoff. The case it is housed in has a matching mouthpiece case with a few other mouth pieces.
Is this horn worth anything or should it just be used as a decoration.
Sorry about the bad news on that last question. However your going to feel much better about this one.
The tenor you have is actually a C.G. Conn. According to the serial number you can have one of two models. Its either a New Invention, or a New Wonder. The problem is in 1910 there was a fire at the Conn factory and some of their serial number records were destroyed. The serial number you have is in this missing range, therefore it's not going to be easy to date or give you the exact model without seeing it. However if the stamp on the body is just the T, serial number and L then I suspect you have the New Invention. The New Wonders usually had a patent date of some sort on the body right above where the "T" would be. The difference is the New Invention had more elaborate engraving and if memory serves the tone holes were soldered on. The New Wonder had tone holes which were draw from the body and soldering was not necessary. This is what the patent number would stand for. The best guess is this horn was made in the early years of the 20th century as the new invention was discontinued about 1912. The New Wonder continued production into the 1930's and is very commonly found in vintage collections. The New Inventions are somewhat rare.
Your correct in there is an extra key or two on this horn that is not found on modern saxophones. Often there was an extra Eb key on the back of the horn that was activated when the player lifted his right middle finger. The problem with this design is it tends to go out of adjustment easily and leak. Most players today will simply put a cork on this pad to prevent it from opening. In some cases I've seen them completely removed and a piece of brass patched over the hole. There may also be a G# trill key on that horn that is not found today. This is a small key between the first and second pearl of the right hand. When the player plays a G# it lifts, and then allows you to play a G# trill. This key is no longer necessary as the newer designs made it obsolete.
The mouthpiece is interesting. The Bobby Dukoff mouthpieces were one of the first slim line mouthpieces with a baffle. These changed the way sax players looked at mouthpieces and changed the sound of the sax as well. If you listen to older recordings of players from the 1960's or earlier they all had a tone we refer to as big and dark and the mouthpeices they used had a huge open chamber. The Dukoff mouthpieces are just the opposite. They have a very small chamber that pushed the air through the horn faster, making them louder and brighter. This re-defined the sound of the sax and is often heard in rock bands and popular music. David Sanborn uses a Dukoff mouthpiece that was modified just for him by Mr. Dukoff himself. Bobby Dukoff passed away in May of last year at the age of 93, so the last 50 years of his life was spent making some great mouthpieces. These currently sell new for between $200 to $300, however a vintage piece can sell for much more depending on it's condition. You would need to get this in the hands of a mouthpieces specialist who can evaluate it's condition and check it's facing to ensure its never been damaged. Also some of the vintage pieces are highly sought after by players, so you could have a mouthpiece valued as much as the horn itself.
Concerning the other mouthpieces, if the owner had a Dukoff, the other mouthpieces are most likely pro pieces as well. You could have a treasure trove there just in mouthpieces. I bought a sax once from a lady who was selling her grandfathers instruments and selling them "as is" I wired her $1000 for the horn. When I got it there was about $1500 worth of mouthpieces in the case. So if you could let me know what else you have and provide pictures, that would be a huge help.
As far as value, it's going to be difficult to determine. If the horn is in pristine condition and 100% playable in original condition then it would could sell for as much as $700 to $1000. If it needs any repairs then that will subtract from the value and if any of the silver plating has worn that subtract as well. However due to the level of engraving on these horns, and the fact that no one is doing this type of work any more, it's becoming fashionable to have these old horns re-plated in such a way to make the engraving really pop. The horn is re-plated, the engraving is masked, then the horn is sand blasted creating a matte finish on the body, but the engraved area is left mirror smooth and really shines. It's an expensive process and usually done by collectors or by individuals where money is not an issue. If your looking to sell this, take it to a tech and have them evaluate it and see what needs to be done. You should be able to find someone qualified to look at it through the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians or N.A.P.B.I.R.T. www.napbirt.org You can do a tech search and there should be someone close to you. Just ask them if they have experience working with saxophones from the 1920's and earlier. As I mentioned there are a few differences in the key work and some inexperienced or under experienced techs run into difficulties when working on them.
If you could send me pictures of the horns and mouthpieces that would be great, I would need to see any engraving and markings as well as the left hand pinky tables. (Cluster of 4 keys on left side near the bell) I should be able to tell you more.