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Discussion Starter #1
I've heard plenty of stories about people buying horns online (usually eBay) that were listed as altos but turned out to be C-mels, and have even seen a few obvious C-mels listed as altos. I'm usually pretty good at spotting the difference. I say "usually", because now I can add myself to the list of people who thought they were getting an alto. I knew I was taking a risk buying this horn, since there weren't that many pictures and no shot of the serial number, but the idea that it might actually be a C-mel never occurred to me; I was actually more afraid of accidentally ending up with a HP horn!

In short, I thought I was buying a closet Conn New Wonder I alto. Instead I got a closet 1925 Chu Berry C-mel in near-mint condition with some pretty amazing case candy. The fact that I was actually hunting for a Conn C-mel when I stumbled on this "alto" just makes the whole thing even more perfect. It currently isn't playable thanks to its all-original pads not sealing properly, but I'm hoping to be able to remedy that in the near future.

(Seriously, I wish someone would have been on hand to capture my reaction when I opened the case for the first time. I went from "This looks a little big for an alto" to "This isn't an alto" to "CHU BERRY C-MEL!!!" in the space of about fifteen seconds.)

This C-mel didn't photograph as well as my recent Holton purchase, mostly because that nickel plate causes my temperamental old camera to have crazy focus issues. But I was able to get a few that should give a relative idea of the horn's condition. One of the things that threw me off about this horn was the lack of elaborate bell engraving; it has just the Conn name and nothing else. It also lacks a gold wash bell, so it was probably a budget finish. Barring a scratch on the plate near the engraving, however, the horn looks amazing. I'd previously stayed away from nickel horns because of the corrosion risk, but that clearly won't be an issue with this horn.

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This sax has all its original accessories, including end plug, neckstrap, and lyre. That's cool enough, but here's something even better: an original fingering chart!

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And best of all? These:

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These are the original receipts stating when the sax was first bought, who bought it, where it was bought, and how much the installment payments were! :)

I'm going to let the case air out for awhile; it smells like basement, which is, sadly, where the horn probably ended up not long after its purchase. I plan on repadding it once I'm done with my current project horn. I'm looking forward to seeing if the straight-necked Conn really is as amazing as everyone says it is. (I think my Holton has better ergos, but it's probably just a question of what I'm used to.)
 

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Early 70's Yamaha YTS-21 with a 10MFan Classic 7* 'piece and whatever reed is in the case
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Now that is a cool find on so many levels! Congrats and thanks for the eye candy.
 

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Holy crap! Antigo, WI. I'm about 35-40 miles southwest of Antigo.....and 1925! Very cool. Did you purchase it from someone in Antigo? Just curious.
 

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Nice find, especially the papers. Of course the horn is something to drool over and you misstated that sadly it ended up in basement. It should be "luckily it ended up in a basement where no further damage was done other than some musky smell"
 

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Discussion Starter #7
@jgreiner It wasn't from Antigo, but the horn shipped from Wisconsin, so it's likely it never left the state after it was first sold.

@Arundo Donax It's hard to tell what works since the pads won't seal, but (and it feels odd to be saying this) it's practically a brand new horn. Everything is moving as it should.

@riceman Yes, this was an eBay horn. I've scored some great horns on eBay in the past, despite knowing how risky it can be. This was definitely a lucky case in that, while I wanted what I thought I was buying, what I got was something I had wanted even more. :)
 

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You have found a time capsule I have been searching for years to find. My Rudy would’ve been my all-time catch. A minutely detectable water stain on two pads. 100% case with label & handle. All The accessories and mouthpiece with not even a scratch.
The seller purchased it at an estate sale and tossed all the paperwork.:(

You have an a unbelievable find. Words of torture. It can only be original once. Enjoy:)
 

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My Conn C Mel from 1923 has the exact same case...sort of. All the padding is identical but the ‘box’ on the right is hinged on the long end and eye & hook are on the inside long end. To me your version makes more sense vs. the top being in the way of you and the contents, wonder why they switched it.
 

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The total amount paid looks like $120. $8,$90,$12 & balance of $10. I’m still curious if saxophones sold in that era included the mouthpiece, ligature, case and neck strap. A complete kit.
 

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Saxie, you are livin' right, or at least in the right place at the right time. I couldn't buy luck like yours! Congrats on the spectacular find! :mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@PigSquealer I think some horns were sold with the mouthpiece and ligature; I think I recall seeing a catalog (maybe either Buescher or Holton) that said that the horns came with mouthpieces. I haven't figured out what the deal with the cases is yet, though. It seems strange that a horn would be sold without a case, but most vintage catalogs seem to charge extra for the cases.

@Keshr Thanks! These past few months have been a great time for acquisitions. I'm done with horn shopping for now, though. Space is at a premium, and I already own more saxophones than I ever intended to. No regrets, of course. :)
 

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@PigSquealer I think some horns were sold with the mouthpiece and ligature; I think I recall seeing a catalog (maybe either Buescher or Holton) that said that the horns came with mouthpieces.
Holton Revelation and New Revelation saxes came with a Perfected mouthpiece and lig in the literature. The cases were separate. I guess they wanted to give you a choice of case grades, or let the music stores use "case included" as a promotional thing like they do today with guitars (get a free gig bag or upgrade to hardshell for special price offers).

I think there must not have been many sax players in this area in the day. Mostly 60s & 70s student instruments come up on classified sites and at flea/yard sales.
 

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Holton Revelation and New Revelation saxes came with a Perfected mouthpiece and lig in the literature. The cases were separate. I guess they wanted to give you a choice of case grades.
Most of the old catalogs have pricing structures for cases. The description of the upgrades are unclear. I assume an upgrade would be cubbyholes and then cubbyholes with covers/lids and keyed locking latches. I have yet to see any literature as to what exactly is included with the price points. If you have something it would be really neat to have the link or reference. I have been looking here for quite some time. Couple hundred thousand pages of entertainment.

https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/

https://presto.arcade-museum.com/
 

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Sears catalogs were notorious for listing every nut and bolt with a three cent increase for each option . I’m still trying to find advertising with pricing and a full description, accessories included for the price point.
Several websites have some nice historical ephemera. Steve Godson has been generous to post these on his website.
https://www.saxgourmet.com/historic-saxophone-ads/
Still this Lyon & Healey below has all of the accessories listed including identifying the variances in cases. All without the price points. Gurrrr
 

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When I bought my Selmer Super tenor back in early '93, I sent a letter to Selmer (yes, pre-interwebs days), provided the serial # and asked if they could tell me any more about the horn. A few weeks passed and I received a letter back with a xerox copy of the original warranty card! Included in the info. on the card was where the instrument was sold (The Vega Company in Boston) and the retail selling price. Keep in mind, this was 1933. Ready? A whopping $61.69 for a then top of the line Selmer Paris tenor. Egads....
 

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When I bought my Selmer Super tenor back in early '93, I sent a letter to Selmer (yes, pre-interwebs days), provided the serial # and asked if they could tell me any more about the horn. A few weeks passed and I received a letter back with a xerox copy of the original warranty card! Included in the info. on the card was where the instrument was sold (The Vega Company in Boston) and the retail selling price. Keep in mind, this was 1933. Ready? A whopping $61.69 for a then top of the line Selmer Paris tenor. Egads....
That's only around $1,200 today, corrected for inflation. An absolute steal!
 

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Interesting that you were looking at Conn NWI altos when you picked it up. I must have purchased mine about the same time you were looking, also nickel!

It’s a 1922 with the funny double G. A few quick adjustments by my tech and it roars. I couldn’t resist it because it’s a perfect match to my 1923 tenor. It may get the same overhaul treatment the tenor did with white pads and flat metal resos.
 
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