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Picked this lovely lady up yesterday to replace the straight TaiShan I got which I'm returning because it has massive intonation issues.

This is an old Selmer London stencil - I am aware almost certainly made by Orsi or Borgani. Model is Pennsylvania - serial number D1024. Seller had only owned it for 5 years and had no idea of origin.
It's a one piece sop with no high F# key. Case is original and is covered in crocodile leather.

Intonation is amazingly good - have to clench keys closed to check it but when done, it's within 6c which I'm super impressed with.
Original vintage mouthpiece was included, luckily, because the intonation goes to pot if I pop my new 4c on it.

Can anyone help me identify the age? And a rough value?

I am going to restore it and if I still like it after restoration, will definitely keep it as my main sop, but I will want to be able to sell it if it turns out I don't enjoy playing it. Hard to know much yet because it's not terribly comfortable to play yet, what with none of the pads sealing without an iron grip (Except the low Bb, somewhat bizarrely.) I think pads may be original.

Couple restoration questions: normally I would be inclined to keep keys in current condition, and delacquer and patina the body, with a polish around the engraving. But... will this devalue the horn? I have put a patina on a 1990 alto Jupe, which turned out SOOO well, but I don't know if it's a good idea on what appears to be a very rare piece that I don't want to devalue.

Secondly - choice of resonators? I'm probably going to go with Prestini deluxe pads - not roo as I hear they are harder to seat well and I'm not particularly experienced at that (I have done some on the Jupiter though, with success). But I have no earthly idea what resonators to choose. I have heard that metal ones rust too easily - is that true?

I am also unsure if resos affect tone. FWIW I like an oboe-esque tone on a sop so if resos affect that, please let me know.

View attachment 241668 View attachment 241670 View attachment 241672
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Just to show what I've done in the past - this is the Jupiter. Started out in nasty red rot condition. Body is hydrochloric acid delacquered then soaked in bicarb and natural patina developed. Keys were patinad in copper sulphate after boiling and vinegaring. View attachment 241674
 

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Your saxophone is an Orsi letter and 4 digits + the shape of the LH plateau are , to me, a sure indication of this. I have had an Orsi made Guillard Bizet almost identical. Value is a tricky thing, much depends on which market this is offered.

Suprisingly the price Of Italian horns has picked up and one can expect to pay anything between €250 to €300 for one needing work in the NL. But I could easily imagine that they Are more expensive (due to rarity) in the US.

I often find huge discrepancies in what I know to be true here and what appears to be the price there.


For a horn like this makes very little difference whether it is 100% original or not, it is not a collector’s item. I don’t think that resonators affect the tone all that dramatically but I like metal resonators. Recently Matthews in the Netherlands has used black (and white) Pisoni with golden brass resonators which I found very fetching.

Just to show what I've done in the past - this is the Jupiter. Started out in nasty red rot condition. Body is hydrochloric acid delacquered then soaked in bicarb and natural patina developed. Keys were patinad in copper sulphate after boiling and vinegaring.

I have shared in the past links to home made formulas for patination , search the archives you will find interesting solutions (excuse the pun)
 

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Thanks Milandro - I am actually in Australia where sops are much harder to come by. The seller had several collectors vying for it but I was first in line. So if it's a rarity in the US, it'll be really super rare here.
Any idea of the age?

I think I have already seen your patination recipes! I did a lot of searching before I chose the one I used on the Jupe.
 

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They are not ancient ,made early or late ’70 at most. Unfortunately Orsi has kept no archives and even when they answered emails (in Italian) they asked pictures to stylistically date the saxophone with a decade approximation (which is not so much better than I can do myself).

The patination site that I use to quote was here http://www.sciencecompany.com but it seems no longer to load


Yes, Australia seem to be in short supply of horns and this makes prices levitate. You can achieve your sound with a wise mouthpiece choice way more effectively than you possibly can with the use of reflectors/resonators
 

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I would take it apart, clean, treat corrosion, repair, re-pad and play. Please do not 'patina' a decent sax in good condition. I personally don't find the Jupiter you did appealing in the least although I do appreciate natural patina.
 

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Problem is the lacquer isn't in good condition. Very patchy and spotty - hardly any good bits left.
The jupe is a WHOLE lot better than it started. It was mostly red rot and peeling lacquer, but of course each to his own.

How do you "treat corrosion" without removing the lacquer? Lots of red rot on it.
 

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They are not ancient ,made early or late ’70 at most. Unfortunately Orsi has kept no archives and even when they answered emails (in Italian) they asked pictures to stylistically date the saxophone with a decade approximation (which is not so much better than I can do myself).
Ok, thanks for saving me the trouble of emailing them.
I know it's earlier than '73 because that was the last year Selmer London imported instruments. '73 or earlier that is.

Patina recipes still load, you just had a link to their homepage. Patina page is here: https://www.sciencecompany.com/patina-formulas-for-brass-bronze-and-copper-W160.aspx
 

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Lacquer looks OK to me. At least from five feet away. I wouldn't do anything to the finish other than MAYBE hitting any bare brown/red spots with some Simichrome polish. I certainly wouldn't set about causing corrosion all over the keywork - nickel plating is applied specifically because it's resistant to corrosion.

However, it's an el cheapo so you won't be harming its nonexistent collector value whatever you do.

As to boosters (I dislike the term "resonators" because they don't resonate), I'd go with whatever is most commonly available to repair shops in your area. Here in the US that would be either the brown slightly domed plastic or the flat metal ones. All evidence is that the presence of the booster has a significant effect, the size a small to no effect, and the material no effect at all. However, for aesthetic reasons I prefer to keep them the same all over the instrument, so I generally pick something standard.
 

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Yes the keywork is excellent and I won't be touching that aside from a good clean.
I think I have decided to leave body lacquer for the moment at least - I can always change my mind.

I'm not so sure about non-existent collector value here in Australia. There was a line around the block as such to buy it - all collectors except me. There simply aren't a lot of vintage sopranos in Australia - I have been looking for about 6 months and not seen anything go for less than $1000. But since I'm not delacquering, the point is moot.
 

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I'm not so sure about non-existent collector value here in Australia. There was a line around the block as such to buy it - all collectors except me. There simply aren't a lot of vintage sopranos in Australia - I have been looking for about 6 months and not seen anything go for less than $1000. .
That's just a matter of being located in a small market a long way away from where most of the vintage sopranos are. Your Orsi or whatever is probably a perfectly good soprano but it's not "collectible" in the way a Buescher True Tone, Conn, Martin, or Holton is. If the going rate for off brand stencils is $1000 then I suppose the going rate for the ones I've listed is higher - but that's a matter of price not a matter of desirability. I mean, a clapped out old Bundy II alto might bring a high price in Madagascar and a Selmer an exorbitant price, but that doesn't mean the Bundy II is collectible.

It's pretty much a worldwide market these days and one could certainly spend $1000 US on a Buescher (for example) and have it shipped to Australia - but you would have to be comfortable buying without playing first, and a large number of people (usually including me) aren't willing to do that.
 

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Yep that just about sums it up. Not a collectors item but not a cheap throwaway one either, and of value to collectors because they're rare on the ground here.
 

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Thanks Milandro - I am actually in Australia where sops are much harder to come by. The seller had several collectors vying for it but I was first in line. So if it's a rarity in the US, it'll be really super rare here.
An Orsi stencil soprano is not a 'rarity' in the US...as far as recognition and market value go.
It IS a rarity in the sense that one does NOT see many Orsi-made Sopranos around.

So, Milandro's assessment is pretty accurate. If that horn were listed on US eFlay, it would have fetched $400-ish on open auction.
This is a 'player' horn.
If I did a complete overhaul on this I could probably sell it for around $750 tops, and I would have to be patient to get the $750 (usd). If I listed it for $600 it'd probably sell within a week or two.

Not a collectors item but not a cheap throwaway one either, and of value to collectors because they're rare on the ground here.
You know AU better than we do, but I would actually posit it isn't really of 'value to collectors' in AU by virtue of fact that there aren't many vintage Sops in AU.

What you have there is a player, and many folk would pass it over because Orsi was not a big, reputed brand (understatement - to 90% of sax players today the name is unrecognizable)...and it's a stencil. My 2 cents.

So, again in US $600-750 completely overhauled, original finish. That is where it'd land as far as 'value' goes, here. I understand your point that vintage littlehorns are a rarity on your island :bluewink:, but with that said, she is what she is. Will be a good player for someone.

There simply aren't a lot of vintage sopranos in Australia - I have been looking for about 6 months and not seen anything go for less than $1000.
That's not dramatically different from the US. A vintage Soprano in playable condition, reputed name brand (Conn, King, Martin, Buescher, JK, Kohlert, Yani, Beaugnier, Buffet, etc) is gonna run $1000 or more. A project one of those here, needing an overhaul but otherwise w/ no major trauma, is still gonna $600-800 here.

Regarding finish, however - just keep in mind a factory finish makes the horn more valuable, market-wise, than a post-factory alteration to the finish. Even IF the lacq wear is substantial or makes the horn look ugly. You say the lacquer is not in good condition - but looking at your pics, quite honestly (coming from a guy who has refurbished over 1000 vintage saxes), that lacquer ain't bad for an old horn...after a chem-bath and a hand-polish, the body will likely show pretty nicely. So leaving the lacq is the best call - IF your goal is to retain/maximize the value of the instrument.
 

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Regarding finish, however - just keep in mind a factory finish makes the horn more valuable, market-wise, than a post-factory alteration to the finish. Even IF the lacq wear is substantial or makes the horn look ugly. You say the lacquer is not in good condition - but looking at your pics, quite honestly (coming from a guy who has refurbished over 1000 vintage saxes), that lacquer ain't bad for an old horn...after a chem-bath and a hand-polish, the body will likely show pretty nicely. So leaving the lacq is the best call - IF your goal is to retain/maximize the value of the instrument.
Thanks - with regard to value, I reckon it'd go for about $750 USD if sold here too - which when you convert it to AUD and consider our higher buying power for general goods here than you have in the US with USD, is actually quite a lot of money. Especially to me if I want to sell her in the end - which if I don't enjoy playing her, I will. Trying to raise a bit of dough to take kids on a holiday, that will be significant money, so I don't want to reduce her value.

In light of that, what would you suggest I chem bath her in? And polish her with? I've only ever used hydrochloric acid for bathing saxes which takes off vintage lacquer in 30 mins, so obviously unsuitable in this case. (And yes, lacquer is not as bad as I first thought now that I've stripped her down.) She's completely filthy with black grease and dust, so a bath is definitely necessary. Would appreciate your advice on what to use.
 

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Most shops here in the NL would simply (if at all needed but from pictures this seems clean) put in soap and water (after disassembling ) brush it clean and rarely (because few have one) ultrasonic clean the horn. Then there will be some hand polishing , nothing major.

This horn belongs to a price category and type , that is really very little affected if you spend any money to do anything else than a good honest overhaul.

There are few, if any, specialized collectors and players tend to be happy with this horn for the playing characteristics.

I would not consider any weird finish and certainly not what you have done to the other horn above. It may be to your taste but is hardly going to be anyone else’s cup of tea.

Also, spending lavishly in the overhaul could fire back if you want to sell. I would only do it if you are going to keep the horn.

There are several Australian tech members, they seem to have very reasonable prices. Ask them.
 

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I recently cleaned up an old tenor and I just stripped off all the keys, put it in the bathtub, and used bristle brushes and soap to get the schmutz out of the inside, and soap and an old toothbrush on the outside.

If you have a lot of grease, you can try a dishwashing soap that "cuts grease", or you could spray it down with WD-40 and wipe off the loosened grease before moving on to the soap and water.
 

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Thanks - with regard to value, I reckon it'd go for about $750 USD if sold here too - which when you convert it to AUD and consider our higher buying power for general goods here than you have in the US with USD, is actually quite a lot of money. Especially to me if I want to sell her in the end - which if I don't enjoy playing her, I will. Trying to raise a bit of dough to take kids on a holiday, that will be significant money, so I don't want to reduce her value.

In light of that, what would you suggest I chem bath her in? And polish her with? I've only ever used hydrochloric acid for bathing saxes which takes off vintage lacquer in 30 mins, so obviously unsuitable in this case. (And yes, lacquer is not as bad as I first thought now that I've stripped her down.) She's completely filthy with black grease and dust, so a bath is definitely necessary. Would appreciate your advice on what to use.
Well ...you can do a home brew. Yes Muriatic acid 31%, diluted, works, but as you discovered it will take off vintage lacquer (although 30 minutes is too long for a hardware-store-bought diluted acid bath, I usually kept it between 7-8 mins).

Before I got a chem tank, I would slather up the body with Wright's Copper Cream, using their wet sponge; let it sit on the horn for around 4 minutes then rinse. For the red rotty areas I would then slather more cream on the area and rum with the sponge a bit more aggressively, then rinse. Follow with a soap and water bath.

If no Wright's where you are, then Barkeeper's Friend diluted in a sink full of water, enough to make water quite milky, again leave body in there (for around 8 minutes), then take some of the cleaner and dilutre it into a paste and go at the red rot areas with a sponge. Do NOT rub too hard - Barkeepers FRiend is mre abrasive than Wrights - just let the product do the work. Again, rinse and follow with a soap wash & rinse.

Hand polish: Wenol or Maas and a microfibre cloth. Do NOT use Noxon or Brasso, they are too caustic/acidic.
Again the nastier red-rotty spots do 2 or 3 applications in those places.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Most shops here in the NL would simply (if at all needed but from pictures this seems clean) put in soap and water (after disassembling ) brush it clean and rarely (because few have one) ultrasonic clean the horn. Then there will be some hand polishing , nothing major.

This horn belongs to a price category and type , that is really very little affected if you spend any money to do anything else than a good honest overhaul.

There are few, if any, specialized collectors and players tend to be happy with this horn for the playing characteristics.

I would not consider any weird finish and certainly not what you have done to the other horn above. It may be to your taste but is hardly going to be anyone else’s cup of tea.

Also, spending lavishly in the overhaul could fire back if you want to sell. I would only do it if you are going to keep the horn.
Oh gosh no, I would never do anything like what I did to the Jupe on a vintage horn - or any nice horn for that matter. I only did it for experimentation purposes and because it was in an absolutely horrible state. An $80 op shop job. I would do the outside like that again maybe, with just an acid bath taking all the lacquer off and then a natural patina developing (albeit more quickly after acid + bicarb) but the keys, no way.

I won't be spending anything significant, just bought pads and will pay someone to level tone holes - the rest I'll do myself so minimal cost.

Yeah it looks clean from the pics but after removing keys it's really disgusting. I don't think anyone had removed old grease since the thing was made.

Well ...you can do a home brew. Yes Muriatic acid 31%, diluted, works, but as you discovered it will take off vintage lacquer (although 30 minutes is too long for a hardware-store-bought diluted acid bath, I usually kept it between 7-8 mins).

Before I got a chem tank, I would slather up the body with Wright's Copper Cream, using their wet sponge; let it sit on the horn for around 4 minutes then rinse. For the red rotty areas I would then slather more cream on the area and rum with the sponge a bit more aggressively, then rinse. Follow with a soap and water bath.

If no Wright's where you are, then Barkeeper's Friend diluted in a sink full of water, enough to make water quite milky, again leave body in there (for around 8 minutes), then take some of the cleaner and dilutre it into a paste and go at the red rot areas with a sponge. Do NOT rub too hard - Barkeepers FRiend is mre abrasive than Wrights - just let the product do the work. Again, rinse and follow with a soap wash & rinse.

Hand polish: Wenol or Maas and a microfibre cloth. Do NOT use Noxon or Brasso, they are too caustic/acidic.
Again the nastier red-rotty spots do 2 or 3 applications in those places.
Thanks, I just looked up barkeeper's friend as I've never heard of it and I had to laugh - it's oxalic acid. I'm a nutritionist and one of my specialty areas is helping people with bodily/dietary oxalic acid overload. If oxalic acid works you could probably clean a horn with rhubarb juice! (Though the pink might not be such a good thing.. hmm.) Anyway will get onto one of those methods.
 
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