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Saxophone/Martin handcraft Alto Saxophone

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Question
I have a sax which was originally my father's. He is now 88 years old. I have had the sax since I was in high school but only played it for a few years in the band. No one in the family has shown an interest in playing and so I am looking to sell it to someone that wants to play it.  It is an alto saxophone in brass with a lot of engraving through out the instrument. It has been well maintained and has only had one minor repair. The instrument has the following information engraved on it: Martin Handcraft Elkhart Indiana, Low pitch 121750 (I assume the serial number).  I have acquired the following info so far: That the sax was made between 1037 and 1938 and that Martin has moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Can you give me any other info about the sax and either some idea of its resale valve or advise were to get same. I can send photos if you would like.
Thank you, Chet

Answer
Chet,

I would really like to see some photos of this instrument. You might be sitting on a somewhat rare instrument but I won't know for sure until I can see some photos.

I would like to correct your history of Martin a bit. The Martin family started the Martin Band Instrument company in the mid 19th century first in New York and then moved to Chicago, IL. The family opened and closed the company several times for many reasons, one of which was the Great Chicago Fire. Around 1910, the final incarnation of the Martin Band Instrument company was started in Elkhart Indiana where it stayed until it was bought out by Leblanc in 1972. In the 1940 through the 60's Martin produced many notable instruments including the Committee line of saxophones and trumpets which Miles Davis played exclusively. The Leblanc company continued manufacturing some of the Martin trumpets and trombones. In the early 1980's the Leblanc Company acquired several other brands and merged them all under one umbrella company called United Musical Instruments (UMI). Then in 2003, Steinway Musical Instruments which also owned the Selmer U.S.A. company bought UMI and then merged Selmer with UMI thus created Conn-Selmer. Today the rights to the Martin logos and designs, patents, etc are owned by Conn-Selmer however they are no longer manufacturing any of the Martin instruments or using their designs, unfortunately.   

On a side note the Martin Band Instrument Company is not affiliated in any way with the Martin Guitar company that is still around today. These 2 companies are often confused with each other and people assume they are one in the same. They are not.

Based on the serial number I would place your horns production around 1935 to 37. During this time Martin was making 2 models of saxophones. The Handcraft Committee and the Handcraft. The only way to recognize the Handcraft Committee was the engraving. If the engraving has a 1930's era sky line with search lights, buildings, air planes, stars and maybe an eagle. Than what you have is a Handcraft Committee. This was one of the first real modern pro saxophones Martin produced. Martin only produced this horn for about 2 to 3 years. Later Martin would drop the Handcraft moniker and future professional models were simply known as the Committee and then by series 1, 2 and 3. If the horn does not have the skyline engraving than you may have one of the original Handcrafts designs. The original Handcraft model was Martin's "meat and potatoes" model during the early years of the 20th century and were produced from around 1900 until the 1940's. Therefore we find these all the time in garage sales, flea markets, pawn shops, etc. I've had several walk in to my shop and usually they are not worth the effort to repair. They were marketed not only for the pro but the student market as well therefore they just took a beating. In the 30's when the Committees were introduced the Handcrafts were then considered student models. They were not as ergonomic as the later Committee horns and were based on the older designs originally produced by Adolph Sax (the saxophones inventor) in the 1800's

As far as value, I would really have to see some photos. The original lacquer Martin used was not very good and tended to come off easily. This exposed the raw brass and it started to tarnish after only a few years of use. Many of these would be re-lacquered as a result. Unfortunately in today's market a re-lacquered saxophone is worth about 40% to 60% less than a horn with it's original lacquer regardless of how much of it has worn off. However Martin also made these early Handcraft Committee's in silver and  gold plate. I've seen a few examples of these and they are quite stunning as the gold does not come off as easily. Just a quick FYI... If you think you have a gold plated horn, don't think you hit the jack pot. The amount of gold on that horn is equal to about the weight of 1 and a half BB's  so you might have $30 worth of gold on the horn. If the horn is silver or gold plated it might be worth around $1000 to $1200. However if it's the more standard lacquered model, than $650 would be it's max value. If it's been re-lacquered lower to about $400. If it's an older handcraft than $300 would be it's max value. If the horn needs repairs, that would lower the value by the cost of the repair.

If you can send me some photos I would love to take a look. You can send them to my e-mail at

Charles@harrisbandinstruments.com

Thanks
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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