Saxophone/Buescher Two Tone Saxophone
I have a Buescher Two-Tone Sax made in Elkhard, IN that has a very early serial # of 118265. I think this brings the instrument to 1910 but I cannot find anything on it! It has a great patina and has been recently played from what I'm told. It appears to have those snap in pads but not sure if they are (although they appear to be from pictures on this site) The sax has pearl buttons. It sports some surface scratches but no dents and appears to be very clean.
Would you happen to know where I can find additional information about this sax (based on the serial #) and what it may be worth in today's dollars.
What you have is not a two tone, but a True Tone. The Buescher True Tone was Buescher's "meat and potato" model of the 1920's and early 30's. But that I mean it was their primary model and was responsible for most of the profits for the company. During the 1920's Jazz was the new popular music of the day and the saxophone was of course a huge part of that. The saxophone was as popular if not more so than the guitar is today. We affectionately refer to this time period of the 1920's to the mid 30's as the "sax craze". The result of this was tens of thousands of saxophones were produced by various companies to keep up with the demand. Now these old instruments regularly turn up in the oddest places like attics, basements, flea markets, garage sales, grandpas closet, etc, etc. Although these are some great instruments due to the very high numbers they were produced keeps the supply much higher than the demand and this lowers the value considerably considering these are some great old horns.
As far as the serial number it's not as old as you think, but it's still old. The True Tone was introduced around 1915, a serial number of 118,xxx would put its production in the early 1920's. So this horn is easily 90 years old but not quite to 100 yet. From the photo and what you describe the horn appears to be in great shape. If the snap in pads are still there or the original resonators thats even better.
As far as more information I can send you to a site that has a tone of info on this model... Here is the link
Regarding value thats more difficult to pin down without seeing it. This horn looks to be lacquered and thats odd because most of the horns from this time period were silver plated. The lacquer that was used at the time wasn't that good and tended to wear off within a few years. This resulted in many horns being re-lacquered and thats a problem as a re-lacquered saxophone brings a considerably lower value than a sax with original lacquer regardless of how much is still on the horn. The reason is the process of re-lacquering a saxophone can result in metal being removed and the engraving being erased. This can also effect the tone and resonance of the saxophone. In order to tell it it's been re-lacquered, it will need to be looked over by a technician to spot the tell, tell signs of a re-lacquer.
A True Tone alto in in excellent condition with the original resonators and finish can bring between $500 to $1000 depending on the buyer. A refinished saxophone is going to be worth 30% to 60% less.
If you have any other questions please feel free to ask.