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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a ~100 year old Conn with a nail file G# key that's in good shape and plays well. It's apparently circa 1925-26 and has the markings: 1914 (which I assume is some sort of patent date); 1119954; T; M207031; L. Anybody have any idea what the history is or what this might be worth? I purchased it at Manny’s in NYC in the early 90s. Pictures attached. Thanks.
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Yanigasawa S-6 soprano, Yamaha YAS-62 Alto; Selmer Mk VI Tenor; Martin Committee III Baritone
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There is loads of info on Conn saxes out there. Besides value what do you want to know?



As for value here’s one in playing condition (not freshly rebuilt) at a well know shop for $2k. I don’t think you should expect to get that much for your’s in a private sale.

 

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Well, I dont know about the right subforum but what you have there is a New Wonder 1 or 2, a high quality horn, in gold plate. Its basically Lester Youngs horn. If its in good nick well adjusted with recent pads not too badly worn Id guess about 2k selling price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I dont know about the right subforum but what you have there is a New Wonder 1 or 2, a high quality horn, in gold plate. Its basically Lester Youngs horn. If its in good nick well adjusted with recent pads not too badly worn Id guess about 2k selling price.
Thanks for the information. Does this make it a "Chu Berry" model?
 

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More commonly used for the New Wonder 2.

Please check out several older threads on Conn models in SOTW. E.g.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's gold in color and actually polishes nicely (polished up a small segment; I'd never polished it before). One of the posts on this thread indicated that New Wonder I and II were "pre-Chu" models. Is this accurate? Do the inscriptions (1119954; T; M207031; L) help at all? Not sure which is the serial number...
 

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It's gold in color and actually polishes nicely (polished up a small segment; I'd never polished it before). One of the posts on this thread indicated that New Wonder I and II were "pre-Chu" models. Is this accurate? Do the inscriptions (1119954; T; M207031; L) help at all? Not sure which is the serial number...
Yes, that's accurate as possible. T is for tenor; M is for saxophone; 207031 is the serial number, dating it to 1927; L is for low pitch (A=440). The other number, as @PigSquealer said, is a patent number - for the rolled tone holes IIRC.

But "Chu" is a vague term which was never used by Conn, and which is being used nowadays for marketing purposes by those who are interested only in pumping up the market value of instruments they want to sell, without any consideraton of the accuracy of their claims. The term "Chu" has in consequence become so vague as to be well nigh meaningless.

Leon "Chu" Berry, at the time of his early death in a car crash, had a Conn tenor sax on hire purchase which was a Transitional model from the early 1930s – "Transitional" because the design of Conn tenor saxes made at that time was in transition from the New Wonder Series II to the model now known as the 10M. I have one of these myself (and an early 10M too) : it's a great horn. The problem is that common parlance has taken the term "Chu" and applied it to all Conn saxes of the period – sopranos, altos, tenors, baritones, even bass saxes — even though Chu played only the Transitional tenor. Pre-Transitional Conn saxes - and again not just tenors, including all NWIIs - are now being referred to as "Chus" ; you'll even see New Wonder Series Ones being called "Chus" by some people !

A gold-plated 1927 New Wonder Series II tenor like yours is a lovely instrument. Yes it's worth around $1,800 to $2,000 as @bruce bailey said - but that's without the gold plate of course; if the gold plate is in good condition, @jaice DuMars' estimate of $3,000 might be closer to the mark.

If it was my instrument, I wouldn't dream of selling it — I'd get it overhauled and keep it as my No.1 horn.
 

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Conn, as far as I can tell, only ever used these names for the instruments:

Wonder (very old, most of us won't encounter)
New Wonder (the division into "1" and "2" has been imposed by collectors after the fact; and Chu Berry was photographed holding a very late version of this - or maybe it was a very early version of the Artist)
Pan American (the student version of New Wonder and early Artist)
Artist (these are now erroneously referred to as "10M" but 10M was Conn's model number for tenor saxophones from the early 1900s clear through the 1970s)
Director (the 16M, the studentized model of the Artist 10M).

The point that people don't realize is that Conn were running a FACTORY. They were not concerning themselves with maintaining purity of design so that collectors a hundred years on would have it easy trying to classify the production generations of these things. Their business was to make horns that they could sell at a profit. So you see the famous photo of Chu Berry holding what has now been dubbed a "Transitional" tenor - with the curved high E but bell keys on two sides, and I don't know whether it's got the later or earlier octave mechanism, plus a dozen or other evolutions. When Mr. Berry went to the store to buy a horn, they had "the Conn tenor", probably in several different finishes, and that was what was there. If he liked it, he bought it.

For that matter, just because there's a famous picture of a guy holding a specific horn doesn't mean that was the one he played on famous recordings, or that it was even his favorite. He just as likely had two or three tenors, and he could have picked for the photograph the one he thought was the prettiest one (newest, fanciest finish/engraving).

I'm waiting for someone to turn up a photo of Chu Berry playing a Buescher, so THOSE can be called "Chu Berry models" too.
 

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Conn, as far as I can tell, only ever used these names for the instruments:

Wonder (very old, most of us won't encounter)
New Wonder (the division into "1" and "2" has been imposed by collectors after the fact; and Chu Berry was photographed holding a very late version of this - or maybe it was a very early version of the Artist)
Pan American (the student version of New Wonder and early Artist)
Artist (these are now erroneously referred to as "10M" but 10M was Conn's model number for tenor saxophones from the early 1900s clear through the 1970s)
Director (the 16M, the studentized model of the Artist 10M).

The point that people don't realize is that Conn were running a FACTORY. They were not concerning themselves with maintaining purity of design so that collectors a hundred years on would have it easy trying to classify the production generations of these things. Their business was to make horns that they could sell at a profit. So you see the famous photo of Chu Berry holding what has now been dubbed a "Transitional" tenor - with the curved high E but bell keys on two sides, and I don't know whether it's got the later or earlier octave mechanism, plus a dozen or other evolutions. When Mr. Berry went to the store to buy a horn, they had "the Conn tenor", probably in several different finishes, and that was what was there. If he liked it, he bought it.

For that matter, just because there's a famous picture of a guy holding a specific horn doesn't mean that was the one he played on famous recordings, or that it was even his favorite. He just as likely had two or three tenors, and he could have picked for the photograph the one he thought was the prettiest one (newest, fanciest finish/engraving).

I'm waiting for someone to turn up a photo of Chu Berry playing a Buescher, so THOSE can be called "Chu Berry models" too.
For the most part you're right on the money. There are just two points where I don't entirely agree with you.

As you say, the tenor in the famous photo of Chu shows an instrument with split bell keys as well as the curved high E. This mixture means it's an early Transitional - it looks just like my own Tranny, which dates from 1932.

I wouldn't be so sure that Chu had more than one horn at the same time, however. He was a jobbing muso, and may well have been existing on quite a limited income; He had this horn on hire purchase, which suggests to me that he couldn't have afforded to pay for one horn, let alone two of them.
 
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