Saxophone/Conn 10 M
My husband has a Conn 10 M sax which was purchased for him in the early 1960's. It does have a design on it (but no lady). It says made in Elkhart, IN. The number I found on it is 993783. I had new pads put on it a few years ago along with cleaning. I am wondering what model this is and if you would know the approximate worth of it; It is in very good condition with a few surface scratches. I am hoping he will play it again. I loved the way it sounds.
Thank you very much.
Thanks for the question... You have a very nice instrument there. The 10M was the designation for Conn's professional tenor saxophone. Conn produced the following related models. 4M soprano, 6M alto, 11M Low A baritone, 12M Low Bb baritone, and the 14M bass sax. These were manufactured from around 1935 until 1971 when the factory in Elkhart was closed and the Conn company relocated to New Mexico. According to the serial number the sax you have is one of the last before Conn begin restructuring the company. They continued manufacturing the professional instruments in Elkhart, Indiana, however all student and intermediate instruments were moved New Mexico in 1964. Around this time they switched to a new serial number system and a letter preceded the serial number. The letter indicated the year the horn was made. Therefore I would estimate your instrument was made in 1963 or early 1964.
The official name of these horns was the "Artist" model as they were a true professional level instrument made for a true artist. They took on the nickname of the "Naked Lady" or "Lady Face" due to the engraving on the bell of a ladies face which sometimes depicted her full nude bust and every now and then a full body nude with a great deal of detail would be found. (I do mean every detail!) Why these variations in engraving happened no one is really sure. The rumor has it the engravers would engrave the better horns with a bit more detail than the lesser instruments. Personally I don't put much faith in that rumor. Likely what was happening if one of the engravers had a bit more time or if the supervisors were away, they make take the opportunity to add the extra detail and see what they could get away with. Sometimes they got away with a lot. Why they discontinued the lady face is not known there are several rumors and the only one I put any faith in is the head of the engraving department died. The person that took over was under pressure to cut cost as by the mid 1960's Conn was in some serious financial trouble. They made many changes to their instruments that saved time at the factory. Engraving has always been a bottle neck at any factory even to this day. If there was a way to speed production they would do it and simplifying the engraving was one way to cut cost. Thus removing the lady face/naked lady.
That said, I would have to ask you a few questions about the horn you have. Are the key guards for the lower keys made from brass rods or are they made from sheet metal? If your not sure you can send me some photos. My e-mail is at the bottom of this message. Are the keys nickel plated or lacquered brass? The neck should have an under-slung octave key, meaning the key on the neck should be on the bottom not the top. There should be a double socket neck. If you look inside the neck tube where the neck inserts on the body, you should see a 2nd inner tube that does not contact the outer tube.
As far as the value of this horn there are quite a few variables to take into account. As you said it was re-padded just a few years ago and thats a good thing. If done properly it should play great. As far as value thats difficult as I really would need to see the horn to know for sure. These are selling for between $600 to $1200 depending on the condition of the instrument and some of the other features I mentioned. The older Artist models with the lady face engraving do sell for more. However that has no bearing on the quality of the instrument. Many pro players who prefer the Conn's will snatch up these newer horns because they can get them at a better price. The collectors want the older horns with all the stuff that was introduced back in the 1930's that was eventually phased out by the time the horns were discontinued, thus driving the prices up.
If you would like to send me some photos I would love to take a look at the horn. My E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org