I have a brass alto saxophone that is engraved with Cleveland Musical Instrument Co, with the serial# C-36083. The keys look like mother of pearl. What is the best way to determine its value and to sell the instrument?
Thanks for the question. This is a beautiful example of an old King Cleveland saxophone. The "Cleveland Musical Instrument Company was a subsidiary of the H.N. White Company which operated out of Cleveland Ohio. The H.N. White manufactured both the King instruments and the Cleveland instruments. Eventually the Cleveland instruments became known as King Cleveland's.
H.N. White was started in the later years of the 19th century and continued production almost continuously until 1965 when they were sold to a "venture capitalist" for sake of a better term. In 1985 they were sold again and became part of United Musical Instruments (UMI). Which was a conglomerate of several older musical instrument companies that were bought out and then merged. In 2004 UMI was sold to the Selmer USA company which changed it's name to Conn-Selmer. Today Conn-Selmer owns the rights to the King name and designs. They still manufacture trombones under the King name. If you want you can learn more about the H.N. White company just click the link here.
H.N. White manufactured musical instruments for several markets. The King instruments were considered the professional line and the Clevelands were designed for the student market. Therefore this is a student level saxophone. Based on the serial number you gave me this saxophone was produced between 1935 to 1940. During this time period Jazz was the popular music of the day and the saxophone played a huge part in that, (it still does). However the saxophone was extremely popular, even more so than the electric guitar is now. Those of us in the business refer to this time period as the "Sax Craze" Therefore saxophones were produced in extremely high numbers. Today it's not uncommon to find these old saxophones from before WWII in places like garage sales, attics, estate sales, flea markets, the back of grandpa's closet or attic. Also saxophones from this time when compared to instruments manufactured today have a number of differences and features which are now considered obsolete. So these are not really sought after except by a few collectors.
I couldn't see much detail in the photos but it appears to be in excellent condition. The fact that it is lacquered is a concern. In the 1930's not many companies used lacquer on their instruments as the type of lacquer they had available would darken due to oxidization and also wear off the horns rather quickly and had to be replaced. They used silver plating instead. Thus this might be a re-lacquered saxophone. You would have to put this in the hands of a technician who can look for the tell-tell signs of a re-lacquer to know for sure.
As far as value, it's not going to be very high. The best I would estimate would be in the $300 range on a good day. However a tech would have to look at it to see what type of shape the pads are in and if it needs any type of regulation work.
If you go to www.napbirt.org (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians) you can do a tech search for someone in your area who should be able to take a look at it and give you a better appraisal. Just make sure you can speak directly to the technician and they have experience with these old saxophones.
I hope this helps.