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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks to some encouragement from Keshr, I've finally found the time to take pictures of my own Holton C-mel. I hadn't intended to purchase a second C-mel, but when I saw this horn floating around on eBay for over a week with literally NO ONE interested in it, I decided to put in the minimum bid and see what happened. I ended up getting it for peanuts, which I still can't quite believe, since this is probably one of the most beautifully preserved vintage saxophones I've personally come across outside of a museum.

First up, the case. The handle gave up the ghost at some point, but the rest of the case is still in great shape. It's covered in faded stencils that I can't quite make out, which is bothering me to no end; this horn's history could be right in front of me, and I can't read it!
Light Wood Rectangle Automotive tire Floor
Brown Rectangle Wood Bumper Gas
Rectangle Wood Bumper Grey Automotive tire

And here's my beautiful horn in its case. The white patch on the interior of the lid is damage to the lining, but that's literally the only damage inside this case. The padding is still thick, and, while the camera doesn't pick it up very well, the lining is the most striking emerald green.
Automotive lighting Hood Grille Motor vehicle Bumper

The horn assembled. For an instrument that's in all likelihood never been serviced in its 96 years of life, it's in outstanding shape. The pads still seal for the most part, and the action is comfortable and natural. And I love the sound! If my Buescher is my "classical" C-mel, the Holton definitely wouldn't sound out of place in a dance band; this horn is big, loud, and has a lot of personality. It's a bit finicky about mouthpieces, but I was able to find one it liked eventually (more on that in a bit).
Musical instrument Wind instrument Brass instrument Reed instrument Woodwind instrument
Gas Artifact Human leg Metal Antique

And now for the accessories! This horn came with some pretty interesting things in its case. The first up - and the least interesting - is the mouthpiece. It's a Conn Eagle, and, oddly enough, the horn hated it (and in consequence, so did I). Aside from the intonation being way off, there was something in the overall sound quality that just sounded...off. I tested the horn with two other mouthpieces, my Buescher C-mel piece and a Goldbeck alto piece, both of which were a better fit. I ended up buying a real Holton C-mel piece in the end, and that ended up being the one that worked best.
Terrestrial plant Gas Cylinder Grass Beer

This next item had my inner historian going nuts: a real vintage neckstrap, probably the one that originally came with the horn back in 1923. (There's a photo of Rudy Wiedoeft wearing a neckstrap identical to this one, so that's as good as any for evidence.) I wouldn't dare use it, but it's still cool to have and a great piece of saxophone history.
Green Hand tool Motor vehicle Wood Vehicle door

There's one more accessory, but I've hit my picture limit for this post. Next up, an unidentified metal object!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Okay, next! I...have no idea what this is, except that it's an interesting leather envelope with a metal thing inside. Any ideas as to what this could be?
Bag Textile Luggage and bags Wood Font

And here's a shot of the case interior. Something I feel compelled to mention is how clean this case is. It has some dust, but there's no grease or oil, and, believe it or not, no old case smell. At all.
Green Rectangle Wood Grass Gas

So, what's the story with this horn? I think it's highly likely that it was an heirloom instrument that had been in the same family since the day it was bought. It doesn't show signs of heavy play, but whoever owned it before me clearly took good care of it even if they didn't play it very often, and the lack of case smell indicates that the case was left open frequently. I don't know the circumstances surrounding its listing on eBay, but I got the impression that the seller might have inherited the saxophone from a relative and didn't want it. It's a little sad, but at least now it's in a home where it's loved and appreciated.
 

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That spot in the case lining can be repaired with a piece of vintage lining. Someone may have a green lined trashed case as a donor.
The small metal device in the leather casing is probably a reed holder.
 

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Wow what a cool find! I agree it looks very lightly used If at all. That would go with the lack of case smell. But how do you explain practically zero tarnish?
Too bad about the case ouch. I agree with Bruce. Find a patch.
Any fellow member have a scrap they can mail you? I don't have one or I would. Need any red?

Absolutely no clue what that gadget is in the leather pouch. Nothing like UFO case candy.

Regarding the stencils on the outside. If by chance you have a small black light give that a go in the dark. Or maybe ask your Ouija board :eek:
Interesting the unit has signs of little to no use with name / information on the outside.
I'd be interested in a close-up of that case badge;)
The trombone I picked up last week had a aftermarket handle. It's actually really nice. At $30 plus shipping a little pricey?
https://banjo.com/product/deering-case-handle/
I didn't spend a lot of time searching the product. Google searched as briefcase replacement handle only.
Good info on the mouthpiece combinations.

Great observation on the neck strap. Never gave it much thought!
I've got a big pile of neck straps. Is there a thread for those LOL.

Thanks for posting the pictures ! Congratulations on a very nice find !
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There's a little bit of tarnish on some of the keys - and between the keys - but it looks like the main body of the horn had been polished regularly over the years. That was the weirdest thing about it; even though it hadn't been played much, it was still taken care of.

I don't have a black light, but I might look into picking one up. It'd be worth it if it helps me decipher a bit of the horn's history.
 

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Wow, Saxie24! That's a nice one. Your case is far and away better than mine. It's also different - mine has a cushion on the bottom along the rear board.

This is my best guess from the stencils. I probably have some of it wrong, but it's a start. The one very clear word is the EDWIN on the top.

The editor is messing with the spacing, but the three sides look like this:

Latchface:

? ? ? ED. DURB?N?

Top:

EDWIN DURBAND

(Holton plate)

SPRINGFIELD I

Bottom:

????????????????
SPRINGFIELD​
ILL​

I tried some image manipulation, but couldn't get much more. It looks like you have a traveling sax player. Maybe he took it to college? You probably had this much already. PigSquealer has a good idea with the blacklight. A lot of old paint and ink will react to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks! I think Holton case design might have changed a bit over the years; my 1929 Rudy alto case has less padding and support than this one, though it's still built like a tank. Holton cases in general seem to be head and shoulders above other vintage cases I've seen. They actually seemed designed to protect the saxophone.

Great work on the stencils! I'd got the Durbin/Durband and the ILL, but the rest was a loss. It'd be crazy if both of my Holton saxes ended up belonging to traveling players, though this sax clearly wasn't used nearly as much as my Rudy was.
 

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Wouldn’t surprise me that sax was cleaned and on display in a home. My father’s trumpet has been in the family home cleaned oiled and displayed for over 60 years. It still retains 100% of the silver plate. It plays perfectly.
Small black lights can be had for $6.....Ouija board broken ?

Keshr. Great detective work on the stencils !
 

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Wow, what a gorgeous instrument! I am jealous :)

As for the lining, JoAnn has a huge selection of velvet fabric and even if it is not vintage, you may find a matching color if you really want to go and patch it. Else use a neutral color like black to accentuate the repaired area.
Case handles, there is a ton of stuff on amazon, it is just a matter of finding the right one, else if you know a saddler (plenty in Colorado), they may be able to help you out.

And yes, I agree with Milandro, this looks like a reed holder.

Congrats again on the find and enjoy the horn!
 

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Your case is far and away better than mine. It's also different - mine has a cushion on the bottom along the rear board.
Thanks! I think Holton case design might have changed a bit over the years; my 1929 Rudy alto case has less padding and support than this one, though it's still built like a tank. Holton cases in general seem to be head and shoulders above other vintage cases I've seen. They actually seemed designed to protect the saxophone.
I noticed some differences in my cases as well. I think after the depression manufactures were trying to save pennies anywhere. I think your case is the full upgrade. It has covers on both the storage compartments. Remember back in the day bread was five cents.
Five cents was of lot of money when you earned $6.50 a week.

Look at what you guys would've paid for those horns new. Wonder if that included the mouthpiece and strap?
A new '25 Ford Model T was $260
Credit Sax.org
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I ran those prices through an inflation calculator. What amazes me is that these are quality horns, and they still technically cost less new than the student alto my parents bought me almost twenty years ago.

I tried taking a closeup photo of the case badge, but my camera refused to focus on it for some reason. However, I've confirmed that the little logo is identical to the one on Holton's Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holton_(Leblanc)

I'd be interested in knowing when Holton changed their logo. I've seen the elk logo on Rudy cases, so perhaps prior to then? (But not my own Rudy case. I'd have to remove one of those precious stickers to check, and I'm not doing that for obvious reasons.)
 

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I ran those prices through an inflation calculator. What amazes me is that these are quality horns, and they still technically cost less new than the student alto my parents bought me almost twenty years ago.

I tried taking a closeup photo of the case badge, but my camera refused to focus on it for some reason. However, I've confirmed that the little logo is identical to the one on Holton's Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holton_(Leblanc)

I'd be interested in knowing when Holton changed their logo. I've seen the elk logo on Rudy cases, so perhaps prior to then? (But not my own Rudy case. I'd have to remove one of those precious stickers to check, and I'm not doing that for obvious reasons.)
Try holding your phone farther away and zoom in. Make sure the lense area is clean & clearing any covers.

Always fun looking at history. Sax cost. Was case extra? I'm still looking for an ad that shows the MP was included.

My 1920 Chicago alto came in a Buescher case. You are correct on the Rudy case. My mid '30s metal clarinet has this emblem.

The South Dakota museum I only took brief look at.
http://collections.nmmusd.org/Archives/Holton/HoltonArchivePhotos.html
 

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