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Just picked up a vintage '30s sax in original gold plate, not lacquered over. But it got me thinking that I really don't know if there's a premium value for gold, or silver for that matter, over lacquer.

I was attracted to this one because its totally repadded and reconditioned and looks near 95-98% plated after 80 years; and its a C Melody, which I normally have the good sense to cross the street when I see one and haven't owned for over 20 years. Just thought it would look nice set up ready-to-play by the piano, and to play when no one's around to hear it.

In any event, questions are: other than "depends on the maker/model/year/pitch of the horn," and all else being equal, would relative value of any vintage horn be stepped lacquer-silver-gold? Or is there no premium in the finish? And if there is, is it material?

I'm not talking the one-and-only-one ever produced. Rarity is a collector's consideration, and a different point altogether. Thanks for reading my post.
 

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For me good gold plate is worth a bit more than lacquer or silver. Much may depend on the make (although as a C melody it's not going to be as sought after as a soprano, alto tenor or baritone).

However it has to be said that original lacquer in good condition on a 30s instrument is quite rare, whereas silver is likely to still be in good nick and original due to it being more hard wearing. But some people have a thing against silver plate so a good original lacquer may have more value than good silver. So you may find it goes silver - lacquer - gold in value.But it's hard to make any rules about this.
 

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I like gold-plated and silver plated horns (in that order) over lacquered horns, but I'd be hard-pressed to say WHY other than my own, subject reasons - like LOOKS. I don't believe tonal claims when it comes to finishes, but a nice, vintage gold-plated saxophone sure strikes my eyes. Almost the same for silver . . . DAVE
 

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Thanks. Probably is just a player-by-player preference and no "standard" like I want to understand for some reason. (People certainly don't buy C Melody horns for profit.).

I know there's no great value in the gold itself. If I could scrape it all off I might be able to fill a tooth or two, maybe.

I'll post photos of it when it arrives and how much I paid so everyone can tell me how numb I was to buy it.
 

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Let me be the first . . . HOW COULD YOU?!?! DAVE
Well, first of all, the total amount of gold used in plating a saxophone is probably considerably less than a BB.

Some instruments were rarely seen in other than silver plate, so the silver plate price is more or less the standard price (for example, Buescher True Tone sopranos, or any C soprano). When you get to the period where the standard finish was lacquer (maybe the mid 30s), then silver seems to command a premium and gold another premium over silver.

On the other hand, I am not sure this applies so much to instruments that are almost never seen in silver. I'm thinking of Selmer saxes before the Balanced Action, for example. You hardly ever even see one of these in silver, and it doesn't seem that they command much of a premium over lacquer.

And one other point is that a lacquer finish horn from the 1930s or before with the original finish in good condition is going to be much more rare than a silver plate one with the finish in good condition. Not sure whether the increased rarity outweighs the less desirable finish in achievable prices.

Interestingly enough, when I was a young sax player in the 1970s, silver saxophones were looked down upon and regarded as "obsolete". Horns with all the finish worn off were regarded as "ugly" and were candidates for a teardown, buffing, and respray.

In my experience with the older horns, silver actually lasts better than gold plating, even though gold plate is plated over a coat of silver. I suspect galvanic action hastens corrosion where the fingers touch the sax. I have seen a lot of gold plated saxes where places like the RH thumbhook and the octave key are eaten clear through the gold, through the silver, and into the brass, sometimes even making a hole that has had to be patched; whereas silver plate horns don't seem to get eaten up nearly as badly in those areas. Of course with the old horns the lacquer (nitrocellulose, I have been told) lasts the most poorly of the three common finishes. - whereas, today's "lacquers" seem pretty close to bulletproof.
 

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I offer my horns in gold-plate and they’re more money than my silver ones so yes, I believe the gold ones are worth more than the other finishes. However, you’re going to have a hard time selling a c melody, nobody uses them anymore. Phil Barone
 

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Thanks. Probably is just a player-by-player preference and no "standard" like I want to understand for some reason. (People certainly don't buy C Melody horns for profit.).

I know there's no great value in the gold itself. If I could scrape it all off I might be able to fill a tooth or two, maybe.

I'll post photos of it when it arrives and how much I paid so everyone can tell me how numb I was to buy it.
Which is worth more, a gold plated **** or a silver plated ****? Either, in good condition, is a rarity, but most people don’t value them.

Sorry if that is off topic, just a curiosity. I realize that it may have nothing to do with C-melody horns.
 

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Which is worth more, a gold plated **** or a silver plated ****? Either, in good condition, is a rarity, but most people don’t value them.

Sorry if that is off topic, just a curiosity. I realize that it may have nothing to do with C-melody horns.
I'll take the bare brass ****, they resonate more. LOL! Phil
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Which is worth more, a gold plated **** or a silver plated ****? Either, in good condition, is a rarity, but most people don’t value them.

Sorry if that is off topic, just a curiosity. I realize that it may have nothing to do with C-melody horns.
Sorry, too, as the horn is not going up for sale. At least not yet, and not here. I thought you played a C Melody; or maybe I'm thinking of some other clown. ;>)

My question was not really about the particular horn, just value of the finishes in general.
 
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