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Discussion Starter #1
I bought an alto sax yesterday. I am in love. It's in great playing condition, no dents or anyhting. But I can't figure out the model for the life of me.

It reads

PATD SEPT 14, 1915

A

045XX

L

I was thinking a wonder model, but it has some pearl keys, and a single octave key instead of a double. So I thought maybe it's the new wonder. But it has GC Conn on the bell, with a flower engraving, and Elkhart Indiana; as oppsed to GC Conn Limited. Why does the serial number start with a 0? I can't seem to find a pic on the web that matches all it's features, and I don't have a digital camera. Any ideas?

TIA!

Lisa
 

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thats a very early wonder improved (1902 ish) going by the serial number but considering that's before the patent was registered i think you have somehow missed something out of the serial number ;)
have another look, it could be an eight? or a 9?
 

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I am missing a line of numbers. Under the patent date it should read 1153488, which is the patent for the holes or something? But I double checked the other number and is definitely a zero, unless it is the letter o. Do any numbers start with an "o"? And the fact that the serial number indicates that it was made years before the patent has me quite confused. :?
 

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Drawn holes it is then. Okay, so that answers one question. The 0 in the serial number looks different then the rest of the numbers. It is very thin and narrow, and the other numbers are wider. It is also not quite lined up right. Maybe the 0 indicates the lacquer or finish type? I need to get some pics somehow.
 

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SearjeantSax said:
thats a very early wonder improved (1902 ish) going by the serial number but considering that's before the patent was registered i think you have somehow missed something out of the serial number ;)
have another look, it could be an eight? or a 9?

Am I missing something here? The horn says Patented 1915; the numbers indicate it was manufactured 1920ish; where's the inconsistency? The patent was registered years BEFORE the horn was manufactured if this is correct -- wasn't it?
 

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the serial number originally posted 45XX indicated 1902/1901 and the patent was dated as 1915, that is the inconsistency
 

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SearjeantSax said:
the serial number originally posted 45XX indicated 1902/1901 and the patent was dated as 1915, that is the inconsistency
Sorry, duh: I was being dyslexic and misread your 1902 as 1920. My bad.
 

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Maybe that first number is actually a "P" which would make it a Pan-American or a stencil and the other numbers would be correct. All Pan-Ams had drawn but not rolled tone holes.
 

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Bruce, wouldn't a Pan-American be labled as "Pan-American" on the bell? Mearaina stated that the horn had CG CONN engraved in the bell. I believe this means that it is a Conn and not the PA stencil. I may be incorrect though. The original serial number charts have long been destroyed, and anything that we can come up with to replace them is "best guess" anyways.

What is throwing me off is the engraving on the bell (CG CONN). The first model with pearls would have been a "New Invention" (a version of the Wonder produced from around 1910-1912). These horns are engraved with only CG CONN, but alas this doesn't match up to the Patd date, so scratch that. Pearls were reintroduced on later transitional "Wonder" models around 1917, but saxpics states that these horns were engraved with CG CONN LTD, another dead end. The "New Wonder" began its run in 1917 and once again these were engraved with the LTD. So I guess I am stumped without being able to see the horn.

Lisa, if possible can you borrow a digital camera? You can also use a picture phone to take a few pics and send them to your email address to save the pictures onto your hard drive. I'm not looking for high def pics, but I'd like to have a better idea of what you bought. This sounds like a pretty interesting specimen. lol

Perhaps it is a "Wonder" tranny and Conn experimented with an early form of cost cutting by excluding the LTD from the engravings. Players of the time did not appreciate the added weight of the extra metal (hey they are big letters etched into the bell after all). It was also common knowledge that horns with "LTD" had more resonance than horns without. Due to overwhelming negative response, Conn brought the LTD back. All knowledge and recorded data regarding this mishap have since been destroyed. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Pics!

After taking my digital camcorder apart, removing the malfunctioning dew sensor, and putting it back together, I was able to take some pics. It has been ages since I uploaded pics, so I hope it works. See my sax here.
 

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Well, it is a camcorder, not a camera. I can just capture still pics using the computer. And it works as well as it did before the dew sensor malfunctioned. As far as a new camera, that would be great but we just had our fourth child in 5 years, I bought my sax and bought our girls a violin, so I'm sure you can do the math there.... I can take more pics of specific features if it'll help ID the model, I was a little tired and just took some film in a hurry. I didn't know which parts of the sax would help ID it the best.
 

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Well, the pinky cluster looks interesting and it is not consistant with the New Wonder's. I've never seen the "shield" design on the bell either. The horn does have mother of pearl key touches on the main stack keys like the New Wonder. It really does look like the digit before the serial number is 0, that's kind of odd too. I'm taking a guess that this is a transitional "Wonder" model.

So more importantly, how does it play?
 

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Well, I'm not an expert (far from it) but after 9 years of not touching a sax I picked it up and it sounded okay. I played some others at the shop, also, and this sax just made it seem easy. I don't know if it's a pro or student model or somewhere in between, but it works with me. As soon as I held it it just felt right. I took it to my old school music teacher and he said it's in great playing shape (pads and such), especially since I won't be cutting a record any time soon ;) . I would love for a sax expert to look at it and tell me what it needs, but I don't know how to find one around here. Is there a part of SOTW that allows people who live near each other to get in touch? Or links to sax experts? I am able to figure out the fingerings but some seem different then I remember. Did fingerings or key placements change on the sax thru the years? The other sax I played was a 1996 model or so, I don't remember the brand but it was a school alto, so I'm sure it was a student model.

So if it's a transitional wonder, that puts the date around 1915-1917? When the factory was sold to the new owners but still making the older type models and experimenting with new ones? I saw somewhere over the past few days that there were a few different models experimented with by Conn, and it had names for them but no pics. I would love to know all this old sax has seen and done.
 

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mearaina said:
So if it's a transitional wonder, that puts the date around 1915-1917? When the factory was sold to the new owners but still making the older type models and experimenting with new ones?
From what I can figure, yes. Before seeing this horn, I believed that the sale of the company occurred in 1915 and all horns were then labled with the LTD engraving. Evidentally this was not the case with your horn. Conn was notorious for frequent experimentation with their models probably more so than any other company. It is also possible that this was some sort of special order using an old stock engraved body with pearl keys from the "New Wonder". I couldn't confirm this without examining the horn in person of course. Some vintage companies (Conn, Buescher, Selmer) would make custom models for players out of old stock body tubes with new stock keywork. The Selmer Dorsey model is probably the best example of this act.

"Student" models did not really exist as they do today. Conn actually all but invented the student market sometime later. Horns were broken down into two catagories. Bare brass (note that lacquer as it is did not exist yet) and Nickle plated horns were typically designated for home use...though I'm more than betting that there were professionals that used them. Silver and Gold plated varieties were designated as "Professional" horns. Playing several of each has led me to believe that there is not a distinguishable playing difference between the two catagories. The Silver and Gold horns are simply plated with precious metals and typically have nicer engravings and occasionally extra pearl keytouches. If you come across a lacquered version of an early Conn, it is not orginal. Sometime in the late 20's or early 30's Conn offered free laquer jobs on all of their older bare brass horns. Try to find a company that would offer to do this today. ;)

Any horn from this time period will have a much different feel than any modern horn. Selmer did not invent the modern keyboard layout until the Balanced Action (1934 I believe). Selmer went on to create the Super Action which has toneholes that are offset from each other on the main stack. This has since become standard on all horns. Every vintage horn has its own feel and which is "best" is a highly subjective topic.

The forum contains a section called "Who we are and get togethers". You should be able to find a knowledgable local saxophonist there. There is a pretty good list of local vendors that are organized on a state by state basis in another section of the forum. If a vendor deals with vintage horns, they can probably give you a better idea of what you have and what condition it is in.
Hope this helps.

I just noticed that you are from PA. If you are in or around Pittsburgh, I would recommend going to "Hollis and Germann" or "Volkweins".
 

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This has the same serial range as my No-name stencil. Perhaps Conn made this for their stencil run, and then put Conn on the bell for whatever reason. Often, these stencils DO NOT match up with the typical Conn Serial chart (Mine has the 1915, the patent number, the serial is only about 55 off, the same key layout, the same everything, and it had to have been made after 1915, I estimate 1920.). Also, yours may have been relacquered (it's hard to tell in the pictures) but it may have been possble for the Conn logo to have been put on during the relacqer (after buffing out whatever it said before), in an effort to make it sell higher. If it plays well, enjoy it, it's a Conn.
 
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