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I just saw this for sale on Ebay, and it looks very odd to me. I'm certainly no expert (or even close), but it looks like this horn has had the engraving gone over?? and not very well at that... But before I jump to conclusions I wanted to ask here and see what you guys think. I used another pic That I found online for reference. I will try to attach to the post. Thanks for any input!
 

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It looks original to me. I think what you're seeing is some lacquer loss at the edges of the engraved portions, which is normal as Martin engraved through the lacquer. If they had lacquered over the engraving you wouldn't see that.

We can't expect them all to have survived looking this nice:
 

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The problem is its an RMC (Roundtable of Music Craftsmen), which is up around 200,000, 1962. Notice the 'blond' lacquer which is typical of the late ones. These later IIIs are dynamite so don't think its not good because its late. I cannot justify the serial number compared to the picture of the sax - there were no RMCs until the '60s. If the other pictures show it, look for 'Official Music Man Model'
on the front of the bell band - this is the area you find those in. I had a tenor, 212,xxx that was a monster.
 

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Looks original to me. I have a 62 music man and 65, which is the last year I recall. I have had several others with 54 being the most often encountered for some reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks 1Saxman. I wondered what RMC was. You are absolutely correct, that one is a newer horn. The other pic was of the 1946 Committee.

Thank you too, Instrument Attic. That is good information, I am learning today! I have to ask the next question then, since your pic is so nice, with no chips, it could be a relacquer? Or because the engraving looks so deep, would it be safe to assume it's original? Here is another pic of a beautiful looking horn with no chips. It looks stunning for a 70 yr old horn with deep engraving. Could I be safe that this one is original?
 

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Yes, the older one in your OP is original.
 

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hello Cymru97. I was mainly looking at the chipping around all the letters and the engraving seemed fatter as well. But then with the other pics, the letters are fatter than on the RMC. Maybe thinner engraving was the norm later on, or maybe just the difference between engravers...
 

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hello Cymru97. I was mainly looking at the chipping around all the letters and the engraving seemed fatter as well. But then with the other pics, the letters are fatter than on the RMC. Maybe thinner engraving was the norm later on, or maybe just the difference between engravers...
Ah, I see. Thanks. There are a lot of variables at play with original lacquer like this. The environment during the original application of lacquer has to be very well controlled, the sharpness of the graver cutting through the lacquer, the handling habits of the owner, the environment in which it lives it's life. There are all sorts of variable at play that could cause the chipping. Folks like Jason Dumars could probably explain this much more thoroughly and succinctly than I could even begin to. The horn you asked about is totally original in my book.

I'd have greater pause with the second example you put up. I expect to see the discoloration (oxidation) Instrument Attic mentions from the cutting of the engraving, especially on such an old horn. It matches the lacquer too closely to my eye, but I wouldn't feel comfortable declaring it one way or another.
 

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Thanks Cymru97. I see what you mean. Even on Instrument Attic's pic I can see a few chips when I zoom in on it. On my last pic I don't see any at all. It took me a while looking at it, and then I noticed that the discoloration of the letters themselves is obvious too(thanks again Instrument attic- the lights finally came on for me!) when you compare the two pics side by side. Excellent info, I learned a lot today!!
 

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One more question if I may, did all of the vintage horns typically get engraved after lacquering? If so, can I use this evaluation technique on vintage Conn, Selmer, Buescher, and King horns as well? Or was Martin the only ones that lacquered before engraving?
 

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Glad to know you're learning, it's a fun journey with these vintages horns.

Some changed over the years, but for the most part:

Conn, Buescher, Martin engraved through the lacquer

King / HN White and the French makers (Selmer, Buffet, SML, Couesnon) lacquered over engraving
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the insight Instrument Attic! Yes it is fun learning about these horns. All the subtle things to notice and be aware of. I definitely have a soft spot for the classics...
 

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Selmer in Elkhart definitely engraved AFTER lacquer. This is engraving only - the wording and logo are stamped into the brass before polishing on the Selmer Paris whether lacquered in France or Elkhart. Its true that King engraved before the lacquer, which often results in much fainter engraving so it becomes very exacting to determine if a Super 20 has been re-lacquered.

The last picture from yet another sax is a re-lacquer or factory gold-plate. You want to see corrosion/discoloration in the engraving on most original lacquered horns. On my own horns I wash tarnished areas with acid but you can still tell it looks a lot different than the lacquer - kind of a matte golden tan color.
Corrosion is apparent on your second picture (1946 horn) as evidenced by the 'fuzzy' edges on the wording which is simply where corrosion started where the lacquer was broken and 'flakes off' the lacquer as it progresses. Also on the floral engraving you see areas where it looks gray - same thing, its corrosion. If it were a re-lacquer there would be no corrosion. There is no indication anywhere that any of the saxes pictured in the thread have had engraving re-cut. I don't know if that is even possible today. Sure, somebody can re-engrave it but it wouldn't be just like the original.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you for the follow up 1saxman. I can see why it would be harder to tell on the old Super 20 horns. I expect it would be easier to engrave on a bare horn than through lacquer, so it could be done with a "lighter" touch, if I'm thinking correctly.
As I think about it, it seems to make more sense to lacquer after the engraving than before? At least it would keep the horn protected better over time. Unless the horns may have sat for a bit of time waiting for the engraving step, and they didn't want to chance any corrosion setting in before the lacquer was applied? I am just guessing, I don't know much about how quickly exposed brass reacts to the environment, moisture, etc. Since different companies used different methods, I expect there were pros and cons for each...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
As for the re-engraving part, I thought I read something on that recently, (that someone was doing it successfully), but then I found an old post here that discusses it in detail. Jason Dumars was explaining how to recut engraving, and it looks like they use a bigger graver than original to obscure the old lines, but you can still see the original if you look closely.
Link is here: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/archive/index.php/t-209027.html
So as usual, I had bad info before, but dug into it some more after reading your post. Thanks for straightening me out again 1saxman!
 

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I'm not as knowledgeable as others in this thread about the engraving and other technical details, but Committee III's are great horns. Does it matter that much to you if the engraving is original? Is the asking price for the horn high because it's not a relaq? Personally, whether it's a relaq or not, original engraving or not, would be irrelevant to me, but I know that can be important to some people, especially if you're a collector and paying a premium price. If it was me, I'd be interested only because it's a good playing horn. If it looks good, I'd pay more for it, but whether the engraving is original or not would not be part of my decision. YMMV of course.
 

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Hello MartinMusicMan. Yes the price seems very high, but since (I know now, thanks to all the great responses) it is original lacquer, I guess the seller expects his price is right. We shall see, so far no one is willing to pay his price...

I agree with you on the horn needing to be a good playing horn. I am a player as well, but I feel I need to be as knowledgeable as I can so that I don't pay too much for a horn in case at some point if I need to (gasp!) resell it.

With all the uncertainty of online buying, and even with my newfound knowledge, I'm still not too keen on buying anything that I can't put a mouthpiece on before purchasing.

When playing horns, I think you really have to play it to see what you're getting. Even though most professional horns should be good, I remember when I was younger that I had the opportunity to try several saxes at Schmitt Music Whse., and I was surprised that one of the new Super Action 80's they had played better (at least to me) than an old MK VI they had for sale. The salesman was flabbergasted that I liked the super Action 80 better.

And then, after trying all 4 of his Super Actions, I surprised him again because my favorite was NOT the one with the lower serial #. He felt that the lower serial # should be better since the tooling wasn't as worn out as when the "newer" horn was made. But he was more than happy to sell it to me anyway...

So after all that babble...

I think my best bet will be to go to either Saxquest in St. Louis, or Tenor Madness in Waterloo.
Saxquest has a Committee II for sale
Tenor Madness has a Committee III and also a RMC Martin that I would love to try...

At least I will have a good feel for the horns, and if I am comfortable or not with them, how they feel, how my hands work the keys, how it sounds, etc.

Even if I have to pay a little extra, at least i know what I'm getting before I hand over my Visa card.
Plus now I should be a little better equipped to check out the aesthetics of these vintage horns...
 

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... so far no one is willing to pay his price... I'm still not too keen on buying anything that I can't put a mouthpiece on before purchasing.

When playing horns, I think you really have to play it to see what you're getting.

Even if I have to pay a little extra, at least i know what I'm getting before I hand over my Visa card....
I agree. Especially if the asking price is high. The only way I would buy an ebay horn (or any horn that I didn't play) was if there was a clearly stated return policy.
 
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