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Hi I have a F Besson 50 medals of Honor sax. It is slightly smaller the an Alto and I believe it is pitched in "A". I have searched the web for information and found it to be a little vague however the 50 medals /serial seems to date it between 1890-1905.It is marked prototype so I imagine it would be quite early.Its in superb condition silver plate with original dove tailed case.
does anybody have any further info or knowledge of its value please.
 

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patrickswayne said:
It is slightly smaller the an Alto and I believe it is pitched in "A".
It's much more likely that it's a high pitch alto, and as such useful only as decoration. There's a fair bit of info within the forum on this topic, so a search should bear fruit. There was discussion of a similar sounding sax a while ago, that was initially thought to be an F mezzo soprano, but turned out to be a standard high pitch Eb alto (search for Besson). Is it at all playable? How tall is it, without the neck? Where does the serial number/date info come from? Do you know any of its history?
 

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I'll throw this out there because my memory is fading.

We're all aware of the most common F saxophones, the Conn-O-Sax and the Conn F mezzo soprano. There's also pictorial evidence of an A. Sax F alto.

The jury's out on the Pelisson ophiclede-shaped baritone. I've got a few quotes that say F, and several quotes that say "high pitch".

Anyhow, I'm pretty positive that Paul Cohen has an F alto that's none of the above and I think it's a Besson. I'll have to check my "Paul Cohen Sax List" when I get a chance. If I can find it.

However ...
* Alto saxophones don't exist in A. It'd be sorta soprano, like an A clarinet. (The most popular horn to be called an A soprano is the slightly longer Conn 18M straight soprano. It's just built differently; it's not pitched in A.)
* Where'd you get serial number info for Besson? I've never been able to find any.
* The F alto, if you have one, would have an alto-shaped neck, not tenor.
* It is possible that your horn is stamped/engraved "F" because it's pitched in F. The A. Sax F alto is. However, it'd also be some really old-style engraving.
* It's possible that it's pitched in F AND is high pitch or French Standard pitch. You'd have the combination of rare and unusable!
* Trivia: the French Besson company was purchased by SML in the 1940's.
 

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Hey, I found it.

Thibouville-Lamy, not Besson. Prof. C pegs it as an 1880's instrument.

However, that Besson name is still pinging around my aching head ....

BTB, one of the other reasons it could be "shorter" than a standard alto is if it has keyed range down to low B, not Bb.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
f besson

Hi and thanks
I dated it on angelfire.com its 52cm tall the mouthpiece is "H Selmer" and tiny 8.5cm long
The serial is 9508
It has a slim body and bell when compared to an Alto and a very rich sweet tone not a wall hanger as the other guy suggested.
Pat
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi and thanks
I dated it on angelfire.com its 52cm tall the mouthpiece is "H Selmer" and tiny 8.5cm long
The serial is 9508
It has a slim body and bell when compared to an Alto and a very rich sweet tone not a wall hanger as the other guy suggested.
Pat
 

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Patrick - when you play a sax C ( second finger, left hand ) - what note comes out ? And can you get it in tune with a piano/tuner, or does it always seem a tad off on all the notes, maybe sharp ?
 

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Pete, formerly Saxpics :) - I spent about a year chasing down a serial number on a very old Besson 'Albert' clarinet I have (in C, naturally...), quite some years ago, and was helped by a German lady who confirmed it was in fact made by Buffet for Besson in 1899. The sax may have been similarly 'outsourced' from another manufacturer, because Besson was really known more for brass instrument manufacture, as in the Galpin Society info.

The German lady was involved at the time when, in the early years of the 21st century, Boosey, Buffet, et al fell to the infamous venture capitalists. I've found her details, it was amazing that (from my serial number N518) it was confirmed as "a Buffet clarinet listed in 1899..." by some of her French colleagues. The lady was Gaby Kerrmann of W. Schreiber & Söhne GmbH, and her email was gaby(dot)kerrmann(at)musicgroup(dot)com - she may still be there. Musicgoup was a big 'holding' company that swallowed up loads of European manufacturers.


Patrick - does yours have a serial number, and what pitch did your 'sax C' come out at ?

Regards, Alan.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi thanks for you help. I played a "C" on the Besson while my daughter played my 1930,s Noblet alto Eb# and the note was in tune with the "A" hope this helps I will post some pictures over the weekend if you interested.Again thanks very much.
p.s serial number 9508
 

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Patrick - do you mean that your mystery sax 'fingered C', was in tune with an 'A' fingered on an Eb alto ?

An 'A' fingered/played on an Eb alto is concert C, or was, last time I looked :shock: So is your mystery sax in C ?

I'll have to go away and engage my thinking gear, as it's late in the evening here, and some cider has passed my lips...;) I'm sure my logic is (hic !) flawed...

I can't help thinking that if your sax was an 'F alto', then you'd have had to play a (sax) G on it, to be in tune with your daughters (sax) A on a normal Eb alto - which is pitched one tone lower than an F sax :? ? See why I play C saxes, far easier for a simple soul like me !! More cider :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi thanks looks like mystery solved its a concert "C" was the cider good?.
please excuse my ignorance but whats the difference between "c" and concert pitch.

Patrick.
 

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Patrick - I still have my doubts, BUT, if it is in C, and alto shaped, it's a curved C-Soprano, and a rare beast ...

BUT (it's that big "but" again) then your measurement of "52 cm tall" doesn't seem to fit.... A straight C-Sop is only a few cm longer - so that doesn't really allow for the extra length of your curved neck and bell. We need pics.............

It's normal to say an instrument in C is at 'concert pitch', as opposed to the 'transposing saxes' in Bb and Eb.

Here's a link to some small curvies. Note the size of the curved Bb Soprano in the first pic, a curved C Sop would be smaller.
 

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Patrick - yes, they work, what would be great is one side-on picture of that sax, together with your daughters alto, both assembled, side by side - so that sizes could be compared.

Maybe you also have something with measurements ( a tape, level, or similar) that could also show in the picture ?
 

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Patrick - from the pics, especially the last, the silver Besson looks like possibly a High Pitch Eb alto, against your slightly bigger lacquer alto, which I assume is in tune with modern instruments ? It may not even be high pitch, as a slimmer body (and therefore smaller bore) can mean a slightly smaller sax.

The only thing that confuses me is that you say you played a C on the Besson, and -

patrickswayne said:
....... my daughter played my 1930,s Noblet alto Eb# and the note was in tune with the "A" .....
- can you really not check the pitch against a piano or tuner ? If it's a High Pitch alto it will be (annoyingly) less than a semitone out of tune with anything played on the Noblet, but definitely out of tune !

I think the 'tiny mouthpiece' is a red herring, and stitch's comment about "only useful as a decoration" was because HP instruments (no matter how sweet or rich they sound) can't really be played with normal LP (A=440) instruments - there is quite a tuning difference. Of course HP instruments can still be played on their own, or with instruments that can tune up to the sax, but it's not really a practical solution....
 

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I still think and agree with cmelodysax that it's most likely a HP Eb alto. The neck looks disproportionately short though, which is a little intriguing. As far as I recall, the other HP Besson alto I saw had a more normal looking neck. Or perhaps it's just the angle of the pic making it look short - in which case ignore the above!
 
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