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Discussion Starter #1
There has been no end to the discussions and arguments about serial numbers and models and years of manufacture of Selmer Saxophones (and Clarinets) for as long as I have participated on this forum and also the (now mostly defunct) 'Selmer' forum.

I have answered questions about serial numbers and approximate years for manufacture for years based on a typewritten serial number list that was once distributed by Ralph Morgan. I am sure that I do not have the only copy of this list in existence and I am also sure that I have seen this list duplicated somewhere on the web, but retyped by someone who obviously must have had a copy of this same 'Morgan' list.

I have never distributed this list as long as Ralph was alive because I figured that if he wanted to publish it more aggressively, that was his business...not mine. Now that he is gone, I can see no harm in distributing this.

I have also included a 'copy-and-paste' of an e-mail he sent to me regarding the list. You can make up your own mind regarding what you do or don't believe. I think it is likely to be the most accurate list of Selmer serial numbers 'unofficially' published. Ralph's own words indicate a high level of confidence in accuracy.

From what I can see, the Saxophone list 'seems' to lose detail after 1965 and I'm not sure that I would take it as 'gospel' from 1966 and forward.

Also, it looks like the Clarinet list lacks in detail throughout. I think that I would consider the entire Clarinet list to be 'for approximation only'.

Here is what Ralph himself said about the compilation of the list:

From: [email protected]

Tom: This may come as a shock to you, but this is in answer to your e-mail dated 2/28/03!

The list of serial numbers I have circulated was compiled by me directly from the card files in the Elkhart office, and are from the actual production cards, which also contained the name of the dealer or individual the instrument was shipped to, date, etc.. I also have three lists from the factory in France, at different times, and they are all different in most respects, as to models, dates, etc.. I know that mine are accurate, though.

View attachment 3007

View attachment 3008

View attachment 3009

I think it would be interesting if anyone who has a horn with a dated warranty card in it, or a dated receipt with a serial number on it could compare a well documented date to this list and see if it lines up.

I have a Series 9 Clarinet with original purchase documentation (my uncle bought it brand new) and Ralph's list indicates a manufacturing year of 1967 and that matches the year on the paperwork, but the Clarinet list seems 'vague' to me so my example might not be a good test.
 

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Tharruff, I can't open your Morgan pages, the small box with red cross won't open? Please advise as I am curious as to contents. Thanks, Bruce Brennan
 

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I ordered my Mark VI on Dec. 28, 1963 and picked it up on Feb. 22, 1964 and the serial number is 100,6xx so there are differences. I bought it in France so there may have been a body sitting set up fro the extra keywork I ordered.
 

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I wonder if the loss of "detail" after '65 is some sort of evidence of a change in production styles?

I am only speculating.
 

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... or someone in the office retired. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Bruce Brennan,

I don't see any boxes with red 'X's, I see .jpg files of the actual lists. Maybe there is something about the way your computer is set up that it won't allow an attachment on a webpage to display ?

Bruce Bailey,

In your example I guess that it is possible that you received a VI that was made (serial number stamped) in 1962 but not actually completed and shipped until 1964 ? I seem to recall that you ordered some special keywork and maybe that had something to do with it ?

Maybe a horn with your particular keywork was already completed on speculation and shipped to a dealer but never sold, so they had to hunt it down and have it shipped to you from off the shelf of another dealer ?

My own VI Alto (which I did not buy new and I have no documents with it) is a 107XXX which falls into late 1963 on Ralph's list. I can't prove or disprove it.

Swamp & G,

I wonder if Ralph quit digging through the records once he got to 1965 and started just 'estimating' after that. Notice that from 1966 on the starting date is always (01/02/XX) and the starting serial number is always an even number (XXX,000). I think the chances of that happening are 'slim to none'. Maybe he just ran out of time and patience and figured that enough was enough ?

To me the list seems to be 'pretty thorough' from 1929 - 1965.
 

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That seems good enough. Nothing made after '65 is really old enough to call vintage anyhow. ;) And we KNOW that any Mk VIs made after that aren't as good as the earlier ones. :twisted:
 

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Somewhere, within the past year or two, I've seen photos of the log book that was kept at the Selmer factory in Paris (Mantes), with the serial number for each horn, it's date of manufacture (completion, presumably), and the customer. That would likely be the most definitive source, more so than records kept in Elkhart.
 

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A fascinating list. However, one would expect some time differences allowing fro shipment from Paris to Elkhart. It is a pity we do not have any info. on that.

There is a serial number list on the Selmer (Paris) web site, of course, which one would hope is definitive. Is this the one Ralph took issue with, do we know? The Paris log book ought to have been the source for this.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Barry,

The list published on the Selmer website is NOT definitive though I do not believe that the 'on-line list' is one of the lists that Ralph referred to in his e-mail.

That is what really bothers me about what Selmer has 'officially' published.

They have the records...they could publish something that was very accurate...but for whatever reason (perhaps the amount of time that might be required to do the research) they have chosen not to.

If you look at their on-line chart, every manufacturing 'year' ends on an even number (XXX,000) etc. In my opinion, it HAS to be an 'approximation' at best and should be clearly presented that way.

Drakesaxprof,

I do recall that one of the SOTW forum members was able to get a photo of a log book showing the manufacturing date of his particular horn. In fact here is the photo. Maybe this is what you were referring to ?

View attachment 3025

I would agree that a VERY accurate listing could be made from these books but so far it seems that one hasn't.

I contacted Selmer by e-mail a couple of years ago to see if they would dig back into their records, and I sent them serial numbers from two Modele 22's that I have. I did get a polite reponse sometime later but was simply told that my horns were too old and that their records from that time were 'not available' any more. Maybe some of their older records were lost or destroyed during WW II...maybe they are locked away in a vault somewhere...maybe Selmer intentionally does not provide this information because they think that if they start doing it they will have many requests and it will take too much time for their employees to do it...who knows...?
 

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Thanks for the list Tharruff, interesting stuff.

Two things occur to me. The first is, as others have pointed out, that there would be a difference between the manufacturing dates from Paris and Elkhart.

That raises another interesting question, ie when, exactly, is an instrument deemed to be manufactured? Would it be on completion when it's set up and put in the case ready for sale, or is it when the serial number is stamped on the body?
I know that I'm splitting hairs, but it brings me to the second thing, which is that it seems to me that the only definitive time in the process is the point of sale.
We know that there are records of sales, (like the one above) and I'm wondering whether this is all there would have ever been. I'm not sure why Selmer would have ever kept dates of actual manufacture, even if a specific date could be determined.
I think this is the most likely reason why no definitive list exists, and why the one published by Selmer is only an approximate guide.
 

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Mine was with silver keys, rear Eb, no engraving, G# RH, C# trill so when they called the factory, they had to build it. What they probably DID have on the shelf was a tube with the rear Eb hole.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Note that the file that Trigger posted is NOT the Ralph Morgan list which apparently some people can't view but some other serial number list.

Trigger,

Where did the list you posted come from ?
 

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I suspect a -lot- of the diff is cuz of differences between manufacturing date in Paris and receiving date in Elkhart.
One must remember that the horns may have -aged- some amount of time in Paris before they made it onto a boat, and then add in travel time, customs clearing, and processing time in Elkhart. Way back when, this may have amounted to months of actual time.

Also, Ralph's note appears to me to be incorrect in his blurb about horns before 10,000 being numbered separately for each type(Sop, alto, tenor, etc).

I just recently aquired a Modele 26 straight soprano, pitched in the key of 'C', serial number was 8,xxx. Now, there's no way Selmer would've ever made several thousand sopranos by then, much less a bunch pitched in C.
Same goes for some other stuff I've seen or owned. Another way of putting this would be that Selmer didn't make 9000 Sop, 9000 Altos, 9000 Tenors, etc, then begin consolidating -all- manufacturing numbers into one thread. They simply didn't have the capacity for this.

And, one more thing - I wasn't aware that Ralph Morgan had passed away. When did this happen and how old was he?
I figured he musta been into his 90's by now...
 

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I sit here with my 89xxx MK VI tenor that I got on my 14th birthday-8/03/1959 with the original sales slip from Rayburn, Boston marked with that date. I also sit here with my 265xxx MK VII tenor with the original sales slip dated by rubber stamp Dec. 17, 1976, also from Rayburn, Boston-you figure it out.
 

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Tharruff, Point taken.

It's curious, though, how we (all of us really) tend to spout dates of saxes when the information available is by no means accurate. I had a King Voll-true with original King sale bond. (It's the one now on the saxpics site). Did the date match the published list? No chance! .... and no-one (i.e. the people who publish the lists) are willing to change them even when faced with such evidence.

And what of the various Buescher lists which are so different one to another?

Borgani (a family company) does not maintain records of serial number dates, and the serial numbers are all over the place (i.e. not sequential from one period to another). The company dates the just by identifying the models and approximating the period.

I suspect we are destined to remain in ignorance.

Entirely separately, I can see the serial lists in this thread on my PC but not on my laptop!
 

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Thomas said:
I sit here with my 89xxx MK VI tenor that I got on my 14th birthday-8/03/1959 with the original sales slip from Rayburn, Boston marked with that date. I also sit here with my 265xxx MK VII tenor with the original sales slip dated by rubber stamp Dec. 17, 1976, also from Rayburn, Boston-you figure it out.
Exactly, sales slips from a shop in America.

You figure it out!!
 

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But what if the sales slips are dated before the date of manufacture? In both cases they are! So, Mike, when you have finished figuring, please give us the benefit of your wisdom.
 
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