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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now, I'm fully aware that horns at 1930 and before Conn's were silver plated, gold plated, or bare brass. I always used 1935 as the start year when these horns could be lacquered at the factory as well.

Wednesday I have somebody coming in with their 1933 Conn, assuming its lacquered, my question is could it be original? Can somebody give a definitive start year when Conn started using lacquer?

Charlie
 

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Believe it or not this question was already put before ( and it is always good to continue older threads) ...more than once.

There seems to be consensus on 1930 being the earliest lacquer examples. If a 1935 horn may still have its original lacquer or not is extremely unlikely. Horns were routinely lacquered .

Until the '80 it would cost very little. Apparently there was a Mr. Carrubba in NYC who did, delacquer, buff and re lacquer for $14,50 for lots of repairers there! They brought the horn dismounted, no springs, and it was done in little time.

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?7087-The-very-first-factory-lacquered-Conn-saxophones
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...Conn-begin-using-lacquer-as-a-standard-finish
 

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Does this mean starting in 1930 they began lacquering all horns or did they still offer bare brass as an option?
The Conn catalogs from the early 30s that are available online make no mention of a lacquer finish. They offer plated horns and 'highly polished brass'. There is also mention of a replating service with overhaul, but no mention of lacquer.

Without some evidence from a Conn publication, I would say the jury is still out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The Conn catalogs from the early 30s that are available online make no mention of a lacquer finish. They offer plated horns and 'highly polished brass'. There is also mention of a replating service with overhaul, but no mention of lacquer.

Without some evidence from a Conn publication, I would say the jury is still out.
Thats more of what I was looking for specifically for 1933 and it still seems like as for now thats still in question.
 

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Scanning through the limited selection of publications at saxophone.org from the Saxquest collection, I don鈥檛 see mention of lacquer option until 1937. The 1935 catalog doesn鈥檛 even mention it.

You would think that such an addition would come with some fanfare especially for school bands, but I haven鈥檛 found it yet.

Maybe some trade publications between 1935-37 would be worth targeting for more extensive research?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Scanning through the limited selection of publications at saxophone.org from the Saxquest collection, I don't see mention of lacquer option until 1937. The 1935 catalog doesn't even mention it.

You would think that such an addition would come with some fanfare especially for school bands, but I haven't found it yet.

Maybe some trade publications between 1935-37 would be worth targeting for more extensive research?
Funny, you were just looking in the same place I was and was seeing the same thing. The only thing I keep going back to was that I had a 1935 Conn tenor once and I was 99% sure it was original lacquer. Wish I had it back to look at it again.
 

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Funny, you were just looking in the same place I was and was seeing the same thing. The only thing I keep going back to was that I had a 1935 Conn tenor once and I was 99% sure it was original lacquer. Wish I had it back to look at it again.
It's quite possible you were correct depending on when these catalogs were published. Maybe the 1935 catalog was released in late 1934 to promote the coming year but printed before the official release of the lacquered horns?
 

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I've seen some later transitionals that looked pretty original as I recall.

I'm guessing ones that were lacquered later are hard to tell from original sometime because heavy buffing was not needed ( some were probably only 1-6 years old when they got the 1st lacquer?).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
1933 is still the questionable year that I'm going to have to look at a Conn Bari on Wednesday and make a judgement. My assistant has seen it before and said it looked pretty original, Wednesday it will be with my own eyes.
 

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Fwiw in the threads Milandro linked to, it's Gayle Fredenburgh saying that Conn had started work on lacquering horns by the late '20s. She's seen a lot of horns over the years.

It may be they just didn't emphasize it as an option, early on, and it didn't get into the catalogs until after the Depression started to bite and more people were ordering brass finish horns.
 

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The Saxpics article on Conn "Transitional" horns (http://www.saxpics.com/conn/transitional.htm) states that

it is almost universally thought that lacquer was not introduced until the 6M "Naked Lady" models, starting around s/n 260xxx (1934). It seems to have been a common practice to get old bare-brass horns lacquered in the 1930's to protect the finish, but this was not original -- it may have been done by Conn themselves, but it's aftermarket.
Gayle Fredenburgh does believe that Conn started to test the use of lacquer on their horns at the end of the 1920s - but nothing she says suggests that this was being provided as a commercial option for a finish so early on:

From what I have learned Conn was developing lacquer in 1927 and 28. The earliest original lacquered Conn I have seen dates to 1929. Its serial was 227k. I'm about 90% certain that it came from the factory with the lacquer finish. It is also possible that it came from the factory in bare brass and later was sent back to Conn for a finish. I've also seen a 14M in the later 235k range that I am certain was original. You won't see original lacquer appearing with any regularity until the serial #s in the 250k range. Often in these 250k horns there was no extra engraving. Conn would only stamp their name and location on these early lacqered horns much like they used to do on their brass horns.
I have a 1932 Transitional tenor, with old nitro-cellulose lacquer and no engraving. Using the principle of Ockham's razor, I have always believed it to be one of these early Transitional bare-brass instruments which was lacquered after-market in the mid-1930s. (However, with its 251xxx serial number, it's possible that its lacquer is original.)

From their introduction in 1934-35, the Conn "Artist" models (often called, imprecisely, "Naked Lady") always had lacquer as an option (even the main option) for their finish, replacing bare brass as an option. Older options retained by Conn included silver and gold plating. Nickel plating seems to have continued for a short time only as a very rare option, before being phased out.

As for this 1933 bari you speak of, Charles, it is unlikely to have been lacquered at manufacture by Conn, given the rarity of those examples cited by Gayle. On the other hand, it may well have been lacquered after-market in the 1930s by Conn, with the good old nitro-cellulose lacquer. If it is one of these, I defy anyone to spot a difference between this finish and that of a mid-to-late 1930s horn which was lacquered by Conn at the time of production.
 

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Keep in mind, too, that Conn might very well have presented their instruments as "highly polished brass" in 1925, and then continued to use that description "highly polished brass" for many years to follow, without feeling it necessary to add language about the protective coating applied over the highly polished brass.

I have never seen any other brass objects (hardware) sold with any mention whatsoever of the clear protective coating that might have been applied. Or not.

In this as in many other issues around original processes of saxophone manufacture in days gone by, we need to be careful not to presume clairvoyance on the part of Conn advertising copy writers in the 1930s. They might very well not have felt it was necessary to generate new advertising language just because the factory started applying a clear protective coating.
 

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In this as in many other issues around original processes of saxophone manufacture in days gone by, we need to be careful not to presume clairvoyance on the part of Conn advertising copy writers in the 1930s. They might very well not have felt it was necessary to generate new advertising language just because the factory started applying a clear protective coating.
I think your argument has some merit, but we cannot PROVE anything conclusively until we see some documentation stating the option. The most accessible records are the advertising materials so, unfortunately, it may be our only hope to find anything definitive.

I would think lacquer would be a huge advertising boon for any company. "No more hand polishing, adds years to your instrument!"

The search continues...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
All good points that I don't disagree with, however I do agree more with cymru97 about one would think there was some sort of trumpet announcing the lacquer finish. The fact that none has been found by this time also makes me wonder how the manufacturers perceived the process at the time.
 

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Check it out! According to this ad in the Chicago Tribune, 1933 is a GO for lacquer! This ad is from October 1933 and seems to pretty clearly establish availability for the lacquer finish. I'll see if I can find anything earlier when I have more time.
 

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That's a great find cymru97., this advert. from October 1933.

The wording - "The CONN New Alto Saxophone Model. Brass with lacquer finish" - makes it clear that they're advertising the first of the new "Artist" models, the "Ladyface" 6M alto, which had the lacquer finish option from the start, and was just coming on stream in time for Christmas. That's about six to nine months earlier than I had thought. Great stuff !
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thats what I was looking for!!
 

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According to USinflationcalculator.com that $112 alto sax would have cost $2212 today. Not bad. If you could buy a 1933 Conn alto in mint condition today it would cost about the same or maybe even more. It's fun to see those old ads. Thanks to cymru97 for the post.
 

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You da man, Cymru97!

My Transitional is from 1933, has the Ladyface engraving, plus additional flourishes on the bottom of the bow and below the bow lip, and is lacquered.

The engraving is sharp under the lacquer, so I'd always wondered whether it was original or not, having read all the stuff about the timelines and what-not, although it doesn't really bother me one way or the other.

Thanks for the great detective work,
Kenneth
 
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