Good question. That is called an "alternate Eb trill" key. When adjusted properly the pad closes when you play an E and when you play a D and raise the 2nd finger of the right hand, the pad opens to play an Eb. Some players and techs don't want to bother with this mechanism and keep the key permanently closed by inserting a cork or by reversing the spring. Others claim that having the key operational which puts it in its natural open position when you play F, it improves the tone by increasing the voicing of that note.
Although it is quite easy for a half-decent tech to regulate the key so it is properly functional...and I strongly recommend that you do that - because it is a great alternate fingering to have for Eb (the fingering would be that of a D just with the E keytouch not pressed down...in other words you middle finger lifted but index and ring finger pressed down).
Sometimes people have really mangled the whole mechanism, going so far as to cut off the leg from the keytouch which would engage the keycup mechanism....I have even seen the keytouch clumsily soldered to the E keycup, for goodness sake.
It doesn't look like that is the case on yours, however, from what I can tell.
It looks like someone just reversed the spring tension to keep it closed....so reversing it back will make it open and close but as Bruce points out, the regulation materials may have been removed or worn over time, so for complete proper function/closure it might need some new cork, etc in the right places.
(Oh Rodrigo, just FYI...it is 'key' or 'key cup'...not 'valve' :bluewink
Thanks for all your observations.
This sax has some history, so it is dear to me.
The sax belonged to the Alto Saxophonist in the "Apollo Saxophone Quartette" that played around in the 1920's
I got a picture of the Quartet which came with the sax.
I found the the Key Cup closed by the tension of the spring, so I will leave it as it came to me in respect of previous owner
Thanks to all for all tips and advice.
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