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Alto, C-mel, Saxie
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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!
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Brown Rectangle Wood Bumper Gas

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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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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Alto, C-mel, Saxie
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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?
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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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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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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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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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