You are here:

Saxophone/York Alto Saxophone made in 1933


I have a York Alto Sax with the serial # 98445 Pat Apld. For.  I was told that it was originally silver plated, but is now an ugly gold lacquer-probably done in the 60's.  I have played this sax since I was 10 years old-going on 27 years.  It has a beautiful tone and is in excellent shape.  I don't know if it's a student, intermediate, or professional horn.  I would like to know.  Also, I'd like to know when it was made.  I have no plans of ever selling it.  It is a very treasured item for me.  I don't know anything about tone holes.  I was reading some of your previous posts about them.  I don't even know what to look for.  I just play it.  Can you give me any info on it without pictures?  I don't have a camera to take any.  Thanks!

Dave Dix has provided a fantastic serial number chart...

"Here is a list of serial numbers
The estimated production curves for the YORK Band Instruments are based on instruments for which serial number and date of manufacture are known. In addition, an estimation of monthly output in the early part of the century and a correlation of serial numbers with patent dates which appear on certain York instruments has been taken into account. Six individual yearly production rates are plotted above, and it is projected that the closest estimate of the actual year of manufacture can be estimated by establishing a range of possible dates from these production curves. For example, an instrument with the serial number 28000 could have been made between the years 1904 and 1910, depending on the actual rate of production. It is believed that the yearly production rate of 2750 instruments comes the closest to meeting all the criteria used to establish this table, but variations in yearly production are not known, so the range of dates is probably the safest way to "guesstimate" the date of manufacture.

Year Manufactured 2500 Insts./Yr. 2700 Insts./Yr. 2750 Insts./Yr. 2800 Insts./Yr. 2900 Insts./Yr. 3000 Insts./Yr.
1897 9500 1300 ---- ---- ---- ----
1898 12000 4000 2000 ---- ---- ----
1899 14500 6700 4750 2800 ---- ----
1900 17000 9400 7500 5600 1800 ----
1901 19500 12100 10250 8400 4700 1000
1902 22000 14800 13000 11200 7600 4000
1903 24500 17500 15750 14000 10500 7000
1904 27000 20200 18500 16800 13400 10000
1905 29500 22900 21250 19600 16300 13000
1906 32000 25600 24000 22400 19200 16000
1907 34500 28300 26750 25200 22100 19000
1908 37000 31000 29500 28000 25000 22000
1909 39500 33700 32250 30800 27900 25000
1910 42000 36400 35000 33600 30800 28000
1911 44500 39100 37750 36400 33700 31000
1912 47000 41800 40500 39200 36600 34000
1913 49500 44500 43250 42000 39500 37000
1914 52000 47200 46000 44800 42400 40000
1915 54500 49900 48750 47600 45300 43000
1916 57000 52600 51500 50400 48200 46000
1917 59500 55300 54250 53200 51100 49000
1918 62000 58000 57000 56000 54000 52000
1919 64500 60700 59750 58800 56900 55000
1920 67000 63400 62500 61600 59800 58000
1921 69500 66100 65250 64400 62700 61000
1922 72000 68800 68000 67200 65600 64000
1923 74500 71500 70750 70000 68500 67000
1924 77000 74200 73500 72800 71400 70000
1925 79500 76900 76250 75600 74300 73000
1926 82000 79600 79000 78400 77200 76000
1927 84500 82300 81750 81200 80100 79000
1928 87000 85000 84500 84000 83000 82000
1929 89500 87700 87250 86800 85900 85000
1930 92000 90400 90000 89600 88800 88000
1931 94500 93100 92750 92400 91700 91000
1932 97000 95800 95500 95200 94600 94000
1933 99500 98500 98250 98000 97500 97000
1934 102000 101200 101000 100800 100400 100000
1935 104500 103900 103750 103600 103300 103000
1936 107000 106600 106500 106400 106200 106000
1937 109500 109300 109250 109200 109100 109000
1938 112000

Your YORK sax was made in 1933. While there were York stencils made by other companies, this one was made by York in Michigan.
The most notable thing about the construction of most York saxes is how the tone holes were made. They were not 'drawn' from the body material like most tone holes.
Some of the toneholes were soldered (or brazed on). If you look at the pictures you will see that tonehole chimneys for the bell keys (low Bb, B and C#) and the bow keys (low C and D#), as well as the left-hand palm keys (high D, D# and F) were soldered on. They are different from Martin toneholes. The York tonehole chimeys have a flange at the bottom that possibly made them easier to put into place and solder, and gave a larger surface area to solder. Martin tonehole solders have been known to fail. These would quite possibly fare better.
The main body toneholes (stack keys) are also noteable. It looks to me like the toneholes were first punched into the body and then a large plate, which had the tonehole chimneys draw in it, was soldered to the body. This plate extends from way above the C key at the top of the upper stack down to the low D at the bottom of the lower stack. This large, single-piece plate, in addition to having the tone hole chimneys has posts on it as well. In this respect it is a precursor of keypost mounted on 'ribs'.
The other thing that was notably unique was the forked Eb. The tone hole is located on the opposite side of the horn like many (most?) others of that vintage, but it works differently. Instead of lifting the right hand ring finger to activate it, you press down with your pinkie.
Looking at THIS PICTURE, you see five pearls. Your first and second fingers are positioned normally, with the G# trill key inbetween them. Your third finger (ring finger) is on the fourth pearl down (counting the G# trill pearl). The fifth and final pearl, the lowest one, can be pressed by your pinkie to open the little Eb trill key on the other side of the horn.
A long-time client replied to my suppositions about the "forked Eb". He said:
"On this one I figure you shift the ring finger to activate it and use the middle finger one down as well (note the arm to depress the E cup from the D touch). If you’re going to use your pinky you’d use the conventional Eb touch. The whole point (I figure) is to allow the fast C (or bell key notes) to Eb and back trill without taxing the RH pinky unduly. For the conventional (IE Conn/ Buescher et al) system you lift the middle finger to activate it. The Conn system requires a lot less fingering gymnastics. I note that is also has the arm so that the D touch also depresses the E cup. The difference is in the clever but frequently out of whack dual purpose E touch with its “close the E cup AND close the back Eb cup” syncing issues.
I would love to see photos!!
Thanks Grant Koeller  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Grant R. Koeller


I'm a Professional Jazz Saxophone soloist recently retired from 23 years with the USAF Band Of Flight, WPAFB, OHIO, experienced in performance, technique and equipment. I'm not a buyer/seller or dealer. I have 40 years Alto, Tenor, Soprano and Bari Saxophone performance experience with additional years on the Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Piano, Drum-set, Guitar and Voice. I'm a third generation professional military musician, my father, Bill Koeller(1939-1997) was in the USAF 1958-1962, and played Jazz Hammond B-3 organ from 1957-1997, and my fathers Uncle, Alfred Koeller (1912-1993), was a professional Acoustic Bassist in the Army Air Corps in WWII, and also performed on Jazz Guitar, Hammond organ, Piano and tenor saxophone.


Professional Saxophone Soloist, 23 total years with the USAF Bands, 6 years with the USAF Band of Flight, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, performing on Tenor, Alto, Soprano, Clarinet, and Flute. 4 years in Japan, at Yokota AFB with the USAF Band of the Pacific. An Avid Composer and Arranger for the Night Hawk Protocol Combo. Former Lead Alto Saxophonist with the USAF Night Flight Big Band performing the music of Glenn Miller as well as other hits of the Big Band Era. I collect LP records of Jazz, blue's, classical and rock, and have over 12,000 records.

USAF,Phi MU Alpha Sinfonia, Men's National Music Fraternity, Johnny Mack Super Big Band, Tom Daugherty Orchestra, Kim Kelly Orchestra, Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Eddie Love Big Band, Gem City Big Band, Jazz Central Big Band, Shin Sings Orchestra, Kim Kelly Orchestra,USAF Night Flight Jazz Ensemble, Different Hats Big Band, Jimmy Baker Blues Band, This Side Up, Freelance, KING KOELLER Quartet, Jazz Central Big Band, GB Work, Sax On The Web,

Saxophone On the Web; Anchorage Daily News; All Experts; Augustana College Public Radio, WVIK;

North Texas State University School of Music, Jazz Studies 1982-1986 Lead Alto, Lab bands 1982-83 and small group leader 1983-1984, Jazz Radio Host WVIK 90.1 FM NPR affiliate Rock Island, IL United States Collegiate Wind Band European tour 1980 Augustana College, Rock Island IL, Liberal Arts Music Mentors/Teachers:My father Bill Koeller, a Jazz Hammond B-3 Organist (1939-1997) Great Uncle Alfred Koeller, Acoustic Bass 1912-1993

Awards and Honors
Paul Shartle Musician of the Quarter Spring 2008; Glenn Miller Festival, Clarinda, Iowa featured soloist; McDonald's All-American Band and Jazz Ensemble 1979; US Collegiate Wind Bands,Paul Lavalle Conductor, tour of Europe,1980; John Phillip Sousa Award, 1980 Dimond HS Anchorage, Alaska; USAF National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star; USAF Achievement Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters; USAF Good Conduct Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Past/Present Clients
Performed with, Bob Hope, The Platters, Four Tops, Jimmy Dorsey, Crystal Gail, Helen Ready, James Williams, Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Jack Jones, The Mills Brothers, the G-Clef's, Lionel Hampton at Carnegie Hall, Performed for the King Of Thailand 2005, Tom "Bone's" Malone, Roy Hargrove, Tommy Turrentine, Performed for President Gerald Ford, President George W. Bush, The Maguire Sisters, The USO Girls-Andrew Sisters Tribute, The Four Lads, Lincoln Berry, The Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Louis Bellson, Buddy DeFranco, Walter Bishop Jr, Sadao Watanabe, Bobby Shew, Pete Jolly, Quad City Jazz Ensemble, Augustana College Symphonic Band, Jack Scott, Catfish Jazz Society, Intrigue-Boston Wedding Band, The Mark Herbert Little Big Band, The Pacesetters Big Band, The Ambassadors Jazz Ensemble, Pacific Showcase Big Band, Jimmy Dorsey Big Band under the direction of Lee Castle, Ronny Scott Orchestra, Big Al's Hot Dance Orchestra, The Dayton Sidewinders, Tom Daugherty Orchestra, Johnny Mack Super Big Band, Ken Peplowski, Eddie Daniels, Buddy Guy, Roy Hargrove, Warren Parrish, John OMeara Jr., Dave Holcomb, Albia Silva,Vinnie Demartino, Clon VonFitz, The G Clef's

©2016 All rights reserved.