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I have been given a Besson International Alto, unfortunately I have no info on this sax and would really like some help tracing it or at least finding out it's age. A few people think it may be 1930's but I have no evidence.

Besson International Alto
Silver plated (I think)
Original case
Original mouthpiece with Besson written on it and the Besson emblem
Serial starts 315**
Serial on bell starts 43**

I did think that it may be a bodge job but it is such a rare name for a Saxophone that it seems strange to do that.

I will try to get some photos up.
 

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alpinefresh10 - hello - 'Besson International' is a name well known amongst brass band instruments, and I used to have a Besson clarinet a long time ago.

So probably not a 'bodge job', but possibly a sax sourced from another European manufacturer, and engraved as Besson, to complement their brass instrument range. Pictures are definitely needed.
 

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Yes...Besson made and makes fine Brass instruments...trumpets, trombones, and the like. They have/had a factory in France and one in England; and subcontracted some trumpets out to Kanstul in LA back in the '90's. They are connected to Boosey & Hawkes now, I think. Very reputed name, Besson. Their vintage horns are very sought-after and quite rightly so.

But they never made brasswinds in-house. So it's a stencil of some sort. Whether French, Italian, German....pics could help determine.
 

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I've seen Besson-branded Couesnon stencils. As previous posters have suggested: pictures please!
 

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By chance there's a Besson Prototype alto on Australian eBay; looks very similar to yours (but somewhat hopefully overpriced one can't help but think ...).

It's also a dead ringer for my Boosey & Hawkes "32" alto, so I'd suggest it's a B&H stencil. According to Langwill's the company stopped making instruments 1940-45, and was taken over by B&H in 1948, since when it's been used as a brand name. Your informants are probably correct that it's a 1930s horn.

BTW that mouthpiece is worth a few quid to the right person (assuming it's in good nick) as it's a Lelandais Jaseur(?) stencil.
 

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Nice detective work, Snitch.

Nice pics, Alpine...can you tell us, though....are the toneholes rolled or not ? In one pic they look rolled, in another, not. The Aussie one has rolled holes....
 

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I think this could be a German or Bohemian-made horn stencilled for Besson
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow, thank you all for your help.
The toneholes are rolled.
I'm working towards using the mouthpiece (I'm a beginner), think I want to keep it so when I'm good enough I can use the original, especially after hearing a good player blow it, amazing sound.
Do you think that Boosey & Hawkes will have info on the serial numbers for date purposes?
 

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Pretty uncommon to see a horn without the F# aux key.
Good point; the B&H “32” lacks it too.

I think this could be a German or Bohemian-made horn stencilled for Besson
Well possibly, but I remain to be convinced. We well know that Kohlert stencilled the B&H Edgwares, Regents etc in the 50s(?) and Amati thereafter (and Pierret for the Canadian market), but I see no reason to believe that pre-War B&H saxes weren't made in house at the company's Edgware works, newly established by Hawkes & Son in 1924. Certainly my “32” shares some features of H&S's XX Century model, notably the bell/body brace (which was crying out to be changed, being notoriously weak).

I also have a B&H Woodwind Year Book from 1940-1, which has photos of sax manufacture. Among the ads in the book is one for a New Century tenor which seems to be the top of the line, and another for the cheaper Predominant (Full value for money in a low-priced saxophone), which is possibly (hard to be sure from the image) more like the Besson/”32” under discussion here.

Do you think that Boosey & Hawkes will have info on the serial numbers for date purposes?
You can try, but the website says such enquiries should be directed to Keilwerth, but I don't know how successful that might be ...
 

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That H&S XX Century does indeed share some features with the Besson, but to be fair, there's much that's dissimilar too. Different key touches for example, but then again the Besson is a later sax. The guard feet are different but the bumper holders are the same (though differently oriented). The reinforcing strip on the base is the same. Most convincing to me is the bell brace. It's a dreadful design; the surface area of the body joint is way too small, so it's very prone to failing. I can't help but think that another maker would have improved on it!

I can't speak for the OP's horn, but the Australian one is marked British Made; it could mean British assembled I suppose, but I think it supports my contention that it's a true B&H made sax.
 

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Dear stitch,
I happened to see a message on this site where you stated 'I also have a B&H Woodwind Year Book from 1940-1, which has photos of sax manufacture.'

I have had an old copy of the Woodwind Book 1957-8 for many years.
I grew up in Edgware, Middlesex, UK and lived only a few miles from the Boosey & Hawkes factory. For several years whilst still at school, I worked on the production line in the factory and learnt how to make and repair instruments. I worked on the last of the 'Symphony 1010' and 'Imperial 926' clarinets which were considered amongst the best instruments available at the time and the preferred choice of many leading professional players.

I did not know there was another edition of the Woodwind Book and would love to have a copy of my own. Is it possible that you could get your copy scanned, if at all possible.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Laurence A Frankel

PS Please reply to my email address if convenient.

[email protected]
 

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Hi everyone.. im BRAND NEW to saxophone ownership and i have a Besson International sn: 4375 that i found at a car boot sale a few years ago (RESULT!!)
im having REAL issues trying to locate any information about it however.. i was wondering if anyone could share where i should be looking.. and perhaps advise whether its worth polishing and repairing so i can PLAY IT..?

https://postimg.cc/gallery/y6jvDSC

really appreciate any help :)
 

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this horn seems to be an European made but Conn inspired saxophone . Probably made in Markneukirken by one of the many factories there ( it doesn’t look like a Kohlert but there are some similarities).

Certainly worth repairing but despite the fact that its resale value is probably equal ( or lower) to the cost of repairing ( but this is due mostly to the low value of this kind of horns as opposed to the growing repair cost).



 

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I agree with above ^.

Cool horn, keywork includes a front F and what appears to be a G# trill key - but oddly absent of the F# alt again (like other specimens discussed in this thread).

Looks quite solid, not a chincy-looking horn..probably would be interesting to get playing again, but as Milandro notes...if your personal yardstick includes thinking along lines of:

"if I invest my money into a good, full servicing...will I get that $ back if I choose to sell it ?"....the answer will be - no, not likely. When viewed thru that lens, you'd likely take a loss on your servicing investment...
 
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