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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is going to be a sensitive subject. Be kind. Be educated.
Thankfully over the last hundred years things have improved for the better. May this continue….
I am posting this for an understanding of what most people refer to as the “Clown Face “engraving.

After some brief research and support from art critics. It has been determined that this is not at all a “Clown Face”. Lyon & Healy used this art engraving between 1927 and 1928. Used on saxophones (SACTB) Soprano, Alto, C melody, Tenor and Baritone. Other products unknown. The choice for this engraving art has not been researched. The actual artist of the design has not been researched. More to learn.

This is actually Blackamoor art of the early 20th century.
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Please consider this a brief article/primer on the subject.

I invite other members to post library references or other quality references on this subject please.

Here are a few pictures retrieved from the Internet as art references to the above engraving. After review there was no doubt in my mind this engraving is Blackamoor.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Although very popular Rudy Wiedoeft’s movie “Darn Tootin“ cira 1931 came out years to late to have had any influence.
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The Six Brown brothers may have influenced the design some. The group was top billing and toured from 1912 to 1933. Like Rudy Wiedoeft the Six Brown brothers were a great influence in popularizing saxophones in America.
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Thank you for posting this. I'm not familiar with the horns but I'm sure you are right, times, attitudes and perceptions change over time. When these were made Blackamoor imagery was considered perfectly normal and it was something that endured through a lot of the 20th century. To this day there are people who don't see the problem, there's an ongoing case in England of a sculpture associated with a pub that is defended as a historical artefact, which it is but should it continue as an historical attraction? I'm not in favour of destroying such objects but once you are aware it's difficult to be comfortable with them whether it's a piece of furniture, a piece of ceramic, a badge, a saxophone or whatever. I certainly would have trouble playing one of those horns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@JimD anthropology is a fascinating subject. The artifacts remind us of how far we’ve come, or not. Removing them sets history up to be repeated. I would have no problem owning or playing one of these Saxophone‘s. Although I wouldn’t go out of my way intentionally seeking one. My day is complete. I have learned something. I raise my flask in honor of those who gave me that opportunity.
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I just showed the sax engraving to my wife who is an art and cultural historian and she observed that while it could be a Blackamoor her first impression was that of a Greek mask which does fit more comfortably with a musical instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I just showed the sax engraving to my wife who is an art and cultural historian and she observed that while it could be a Blackamoor her first impression was that of a Greek mask which does fit more comfortably with a musical instrument.
Valid observation.
If you can find any information or citations to this please post them.
Reviewed.
Too many elements wrong or missing for this to be Greek.
Quick reference.
An American made sax in the late 20s would more likely be influenced by existing social elements.
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FWIW Individuals in the group who reviewed this.
Masters degree in cultural arts.
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This was just an immediate reaction, there are no citations, it's not obviously Greek, it's Greco-Roman and there are images from frescos and pots showing actors wearing similar masks. It was done in the twenties, you could look at Picasso and find stylistic elements, there are specific cultural ideas of the time that are lost to us now. I don't think you are wrong, I saw what you saw but the cultural references are too wide and varied to come to a specific conclusion. One thing that is certain is that this is not a clown face.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This was just an immediate reaction, there are no citations, it's not obviously Greek, it's Greco-Roman and there are images from frescos and pots showing actors wearing similar masks. It was done in the twenties, you could look at Picasso and find stylistic elements, there are specific cultural ideas of the time that are lost to us now. I don't think you are wrong, I saw what you saw but the cultural references are too wide and varied to come to a specific conclusion. One thing that is certain is that this is not a clown face.
Understood. Do you have a link to what you were viewing? The Greco-Roman search I did didn’t have anything marginally close. Kind of like comparing a Green Bay Packers cheese hat to a sombrero.

To all readers.
All observations are valid until qualified otherwise. This is not 100% cut and dry documented as Blackamoor art. Please post pictures or links for the ongoing research.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One thing is for certain. It's not a clown.
Can you substantiate this? Make my day ! If nothing else please note your observations. Something is telling you it’s not a clown. What is it you see? Would love to cross off the list.
I REALLY don’t think it’s a clown but haven’t entirely ruled it out.
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it may be anything , really, (unless we have records of the factory calling it one thing or the other) but the Greco-Roman masks are generally used in theater context rather than music.

I would not think these have anything to do (if not a general, remote, association with a mask with a laughing stand)




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the clown them is not unheard of in saxophone things too

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I would suppose that Blackmoors would be used as an inspiration for the engraving (especially because of what is evidently a “ bow” ribbon or tie in the original engraving

I think it is very likely to be a Blackamoor because of the evident Turban with something reminiscent of a feather (thistle ?) and the “ earrings” also with a “ thistle’ finial.

both present in the European Iconography


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I would suppose that Blackmoors would be used as an inspiration for the engraving (especially because of what is evidently a “ bow” ribbon or tie in the original engraving

I think it is very likely to be a Blackamoor because of the evident Turban with something reminiscent of a feather (thistle ?) and the “ earrings” also with a “ thistle’ finial.

both present in the European Iconography


View attachment 136414
those are my thoughts as well
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Go to Google and do an image search for Greek Roman drama masks.

Here’s on to be going on with

View attachment 136413 View attachment 136413

Also re African masks and their influence on early 20th century art see here


It’s not much of an article but has some interesting images.
Thank you for posting the information.
I can definitely see your view on how these appear to be similar. Interesting!
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it may be anything , really, (unless we have records of the factory calling it one thing or the other) but the Greco-Roman masks are generally used in theater context rather than music.

I would not think these have anything to do (if not a general, remote, association with a mask with a laughing stand)




View attachment 136408 View attachment 136409


the clown them is not unheard of in saxophone things too

View attachment 136410


I would suppose that Blackmoors would be used as an inspiration for the engraving (especially because of what is evidently a “ bow” ribbon or tie in the original engraving

I think it is very likely to be a Blackamoor because of the evident Turban with something reminiscent of a feather (thistle ?) and the “ earrings” also with a “ thistle’ finial.

both present in the European Iconography


View attachment 136414
Thank you for sharing your research.
That’s one scary looking clown on that Conn !
In my earlier post I mentioned the comparison to Greco-Roman was lacking elements. I intentionally did not list what those missing elements were.
The turban feature was the first thing my associates pointed out. Second was the earrings and bow. lastly florid embellishments. Hard to tell what those elements you described as “thistles“ could actually be flowers.

I have reached out to several museums. Let’s see if there is a L & H catalog or any information on this subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I received a reply email from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. They have a little bit of a backlog. They anticipate two weeks before an official reply.
I also received a reply from the National Museum of Music University of South Dakota.

”I checked our archives for Lyon & Healy catalogs or brochures from 1927-1928. Unfortunately, we do not have any from those dates.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
@JimD I wonder what kind of response you would get contacting a British Museum. Are you actually in the UK? Care to give it a go?
The Smithsonian I furnished the two pictures of engravings on this thread. American made Saxophone around 1927 to 1929. Asked if they could identify this as Blackamoor or Greco Roman. Lastly to identify the determining elements in their judgment.
 

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shot of haven direct accounts from the factory anyone is giving their interpretation of something they see but nobody would know unless there are records

the Image looks very similar to the iconography used i the Netherlands (and very controversial nowadays) of the servant of St. Nicholas , Zwarte Piet ( Black Pete)

Of course you know that the figure od Santa Claus was modeled on the one of St. Nicholas.

the clownesque lips are an effect given by make up

notes the ear rings and the feather on the soft hat

this has been VERY controversial in the modern Netherlands but part of its longstanding iconography

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@milandro Exactly the reason I’m looking for brochures. Lyon & Healy did have some print in the 20s. Very limited though from what I’ve seen.
This is page twelve of ? What year ? Can’t find any of the other Pages.
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