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· Distinguished SOTW Member
237 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
O.K. this is my 1st time posting a new topic so I hope I get it right.
I have communicating via PM to several members trying to find out more information about a bari sax I bought a few months ago. I found it of all places on Craigslist. the price was right especially since I had never seen one and probablly never again see one like it.
It is a Boosey & Co. #10050. Hopefully pictures are here;

Here are some of things to note.
1. two octave keys
2. range is from low B to Eb
3. neck is not removeable
4. the thickness of the brass seems thinner than usual
5. minimun number of side, palm and trill keys
6. it looks very similar to pictures I have seen of the original A.Sax instrument with one exception that the low B on the A.Sax instrument is on the front of the bell near the RH 1st finger. The Boosey's is where today's horn's would have it.
7. not laquered
8. high pitch (any sugestions on how to get it to play with modern insts.-I can get it to play in tune with the mpc. 1/4" from the end of the cork but I think that is not helping the scale.)
9. from info I have been acquiring, I think it may be from 1888 I have seen two charts but not for saxophone. (Boosey & Co #10984 clarinet is from 1891 and #10052 cornet from 1868)

I bought it "as is" and it only needed one spring and one octave key pad replaced. IT PLAYS!!!!
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Ernie

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2011
1,600 Posts
The National Music Museum has an Adolph Bari believed to have been made in 1858. Jay Easton has a picture of it on his web-site, and a sound-clip of it on that page as well.

As far as your High Pitch dilemma, you *MIGHT* be able to tune the sax to "E Natural" with a long-shank mouthpiece, but my first guess is that you'll have quite a time with intonation through-out the horn if you do that.

You have a cool piece of history! Have fun with it!

· Distinguished SOTW Member and Old King Log
798 Posts
The first horn that Sax produced in the saxophone line was a bass in C, not a baritone. The patent even refers to this instrument as the "example", if what I have read over the past twenty years or so on the topic is correct.

More intriguing to me is the short clip of video that I saw on television back at the 200th anniversary of Adolphe Sax's birthday, this being a few years back. In the clip, the camera at one point slowly dollied along a line of "Sax era" instruments, set up on stands in order of size.

In that clip, (which I think aired as a two minute or so "time filler" on The History Channel) I am pretty sure that I saw (in sequence) a soprano (curved), an alto, a tenor with a neck coiled in a crook like a baritone, a baritone, and a bass.

I have since looked for further information on what I may have seen, but have been unsuccessful in my efforts. To me, the use of a crook over the bizarre arrangement of the "flattened out" tenor neck makes a lot of sense.

Anyone else remember the same video?

· Registered
1,562 Posts
A book I just finished about the history of the saxophone, called 'The Devil's Horn' said Baritone was the first. Seemed pretty well researched but it could be wrong.

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss
1,883 Posts
Your baritone looks a lot like my original Adolphe Sax baritone made in 1861, with subtle differences. The ferrules are different, you have what appears to be a C-D trill key (very unusual), and my baritone has the low B key in the location of the earliest saxes, on the side of the bell flare near the right hand fingers.

The first saxophone (Ignace de Keyser at the Musee Instrumental in Brussels calls this the prototype) was definitely a bass. Recent research tends to support that it was pitched in Bb, but I still think the key was C. It didn't look like a saxophone. It looked like an ophicleide, which is slightly bassoon shaped.

The first saxophone in the modern conventional shape was a baritone in Eb that Sax called a tenor, and later called a tenor-baritone. It looked like your baritone, except that the bottom bow began sooner, and the low Eb key, not the low C key, was in the center of the bottom bow. This made the bell come up higher, looking almost like a modern baritone with a low Bb key, even though the original baritone only went down to low B natural.

By 1850 Adolphe Sax's Bb bass saxophone had assumed the modern bass sax configuration. It looked almost like a vintage Conn or Buescher, except the bell was very short due to the lack of a low Bb key. The low C key was in the middle of the bottom bow.

Around 1867, Sax began making his Bb bass saxophones in a more compact configuration, returning to the form of the original Eb Tenor-Baritone, with the low Eb key in the middle of the bottom bow. All of the surviving Adolphe sax basses I know of are in this form, and there are quite a few photos of them on the web. Notice that despite the lack of a low Bb key, the bells of these basses come up quite high due to the bottom bow occurring higher in the body.

I would hazard a wild guess of around 1895 for the date of your baritone, but it could be 5 -20 years later than that. I don't think you can get it to play at A=440, but you can try running a piece of electrical wire (like a lamp cord) all the way through the saxophone, perhaps doubling of tripling its thickness as the bore increases.

Better yet, simply set up the horn so that it plays in tune with itself, and play it alone or accompanied by an electric piano that can be tuned up to the pitch of the saxophone. Have fun.

I have added more photos to my MYSPACE MUSIC page. If the "slideshow" below the bio doesn't load, refresh the page:

· Distinguished SOTW Member
874 Posts
It's a great find. While it may not be "the" oldest bari, it has to be one of the oldest still in existence. It's amazing what you can find in unlikely places. I picked up my Conn New Wonder Series II baritone (Chu, ser 204,xxx) out of the Washington D.C. City Paper years ago.

· Banned
3,774 Posts
How much do you think you can make off an adolphe tenor because believe this or not, I was on ebay a year ago, and I saw this very weird tenor, and I didn't think much of it, but not only did I think much of it later, but I found out that what it was, was an adolphe sax from the 1800s, and it ONLY SOLD FOR $50!!!!!! I was just curious how much they are worth.

· Distinguished SOTW Member and Old King Log
798 Posts
Things are worth (no more and no less) what a seller and a buyer agree to as the price as the item. That's the pure, economist explanation, but one that pays little heed to collectors or busy folks who are looking to clear inventory or whatever.

With (for all intents and purposes) a once in a normal lifetime event like selling off a genuine A. Sax saxophone, it's going to be hard to "set a price". Posting here with people may have a better effect, since saxophone "experts" or "collectors" who frequent here may have had this "once in a lifetime" experience more than once. But, even they have seen a "limited field", and their estimates are going to be much more along the guess line rather than ones backed up by real world experience.

That said, there's still no accounting for taste. On any day of the week, you can find fifty excellent Conn horns on eBay, many of which can be purchased for a pittance, and any of which (once restored) will give you an excellent saxophone (within their limits) for a fraction of the cost of a "modern" instrument. Similarly, these "A. Sax" saxes have a value over and above the actual "playing worth". So too might many folks say of the sainted "Mark VI" horns (but not me).

I think that eBay has more than proven that there's a buyer out there for just about anything. It does this by opening up the "awareness" of a particular item, and then allowing people to show you how much they think it's worth.

Having said all of this (and having attended many, many, MANY country estate auctions over the years due to my wife's fascination with them), I have to add that I prefer to go another route when purchasing something that I want and need. With musical instruments, there's a specific protocol that I follow:

1) Do I have enough money to buy it if I can?

2) Do I need it?

3) Do I want it?

4) How much of a chance am I willing to take with the purchase?

I use "Buy It Now" all of the time, simply because if 1) and 2) and 3) are present, I can right then and there decide on 4). But, I never buy anything material (car, house, instrument, what have you) with the idea that the main purpose of the purchase is an "investment".

Well, I should qualify that. If someone is offering up a Selmer Mark VI tenor for pennies on the dollar, I know that it's a no brainer, and (absent any information that would lead me to think that it was stolen) I'll shell out the money.

The difference there is that we all know that the magic "Mark VI" name will drive the price of even the poorest Selmer horn up to a point past the $400.00 that I once bought one for.

So, there are exceptions to every rule. Since there isn't much traffic in wonders like a "A. Sax" saxophone to be found, the answer is going to be a bit hazy.

I see from your signature that you own a couple of "classic" Conns and a Yamaha YBS 62. That's much the same situation as me, so it's obvious that you have an appreciation of the classic horns.

However, there is a big gulf between early Conn and even earlier "antique" saxes. And, I'm not so sure that any manual key saxophone is going to be worth much to anyone other than for a museum piece. There's nothing wrong with them per se, (although manual octave/register keys can take a lot of getting used to), but it's a strong indication that no one's looking at that A. Sax horn with an eye to playing it on a daily basis.

In the realm of collectors, literally anything goes:

We once purchased a very nice (if quite old) house in a gentry-fied neighborhood in a small Illinois county seat. The "rebuilder" had put a lot of trouble into remaking the house into a gem, and it showed at every turn.

Upon moving in, one thing that we were intent on doing as soon as possible was to change the "country cute" draperies for something a lot easier to keep clean and much less cumbersome. (Walking by the gathered bottoms of the drapes in the hall was like trying to move around a very fat woman with a full bell skirt.)

Upon settling in, we started compiling a bunch of stuff for a garage/jumble/tag sale, and these drapes (and their baroque looking rods) were first in line on the list. On top of that, the previous owner had never had them cleaned, so they had "an air" about them.

My wife casually mentioned them at school during her lunch break, and how happy she would be to be shut of the things, as the cleaning bill for them we were quoted ran something like eighty bux.

One of the other teachers asked if they were "Dorothy" drapes, and we (quite frankly) did not know. (This was in "pre-internet" days.) When we did a little digging around and finally looked into the maker, we found that they were. We then were floored by the prices on them in the latest Dorothy Drapes catalog, which also offered such arcania as skirts for lamp shades, skirts for table legs, and so on.

Based upon the catalog, I argued for setting the price at something above the usual "$1.00" sort of garage sale price point. My lovely wife disagreed strongly, claiming that it would scare people off. So, we compromised on something like $40.00 a panel (two to a window), with the thought that we could always go down on the price later. I also got her to allow me to add "Dorothy Drapes" to the newspaper ad.

The ad hit the Thursday paper, and when we came home that evening, there were fifteen (1-5) calls on our answering machine, all wanting to come pick them up early (without even hearing a price first). Everyone who called had a reason why they couldn't wait until Saturday. We ignored them all and waited for the sale to begin.

Also, late that same evening the builder who had customized the old house came by (unannounced) and casually talked about how we liked the house and all, then sprung his question about the drapes and if we'd be interested in selling to him right then and there. When I told him the price, he demurred.

The Saturday of the sale, the people were lining up outside at 5:30 AM, this for a sale start time of 7:00 AM. Once we "opened the gates", the drapes, every last ugly inch of them, sold out within the first ten minutes of the sale. So did all but one of the rods. Ka-ching!

All told, we made about seven hundred dollars that day, with the lion's share of it coming from those disgusting draperies. Yet, had my wife not mentioned them in casual conversation a couple of days before, I would have priced them along the lines of "As is, all for $10.00".

As with drapes, so too with saxophones.

· Registered
350 Posts
That was a great find...1880's sounds possible...I have a Millereau Tenor from around c 1869-1870 with very similar key work to your Baritone, mine is a French made horn, so perhaps one made in England (Boosey) a few years later might make sense to have similar keywork. Where are you based? I'd like to get together a quartet to play on 19thC instruments! Let me know if you are interested?...I live in the UK (near Leeds). Anyone else reading this and interested inplaying on original early saxophones as an ensemble please also get in touch.

· Registered
235 Posts
A book I just finished about the history of the saxophone, called 'The Devil's Horn' said Baritone was the first. Seemed pretty well researched but it could be wrong.
i read that book too and im pretty sure it said it was the bass saxophone.

· Distinguished Member and Bass Sax Extraordinaire
1,092 Posts
The bari is not hanging on a wall. As one of my 9 saxes it may not get played a lot, but it does get played
if for nothing else to enjoy a part of history.
Hi there jazzsax07, I recently joined the HP club myself with a bari that looks a lot like your Boosey here. Mine is an Buffet-Crampon (Evette-Schaeffer) circa 1886, serial # 75XX. It too is keyed low B to high Eb, has double octave keys, a fixed neck, and has no rollers or pearls. However unlike yours, it does not have an extra trill key. Also unlike yours, mine is silver plated. I've posted some photos on my site here.

This bari had belonged to the same owner since 1945 who at the time played in a small dance band. The drummer of the band picked it up from him not knowing it was a HP horn. It didn't take long to figure out that it just didn't play nice with the other instruments in the combo. A music store confirmed that it was a HP horn, and attempts to play it with the band met with fairly poor success. Eventually the bari was put away, and until recently when the man decided to part with it, not thought about too much.

So here's to sharing a part of music history. I'm glad I'm not the only one out there that thinks these old timers are worth saving and preserving.

In HP bari solidarity... :bluewink:
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