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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone help me pin down dating on this Zephyr tenor I just acquired? Pre or post war? Did King shut down instrument manufacture during the war?
SN 247963, sold as "about 1943", which I assume was extrapolated from this common entry in SN tables found throughout the web, but puts it in the middle of the war years:

1940-1945 220,001-275,000

It has the 3-ring strap hook, double socket neck, wire key guards, and rounded LH pinky keys.

Looking at the catalogs here
The bell engraving looks pre-war ("ZEPHYR" is not slanted, but it's also not the style on the earlier Zs with square keywork.)

Is this some kind of odd transitional model, maybe right after production resumed post-war?

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Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
43,595 Posts
I don't see anything strange about this ( the slanting of the logo is a minor detail) , the Zephyrs had many incarnations and after the ones with square keys it pretty much evolved in a parallel way to the Super 20


Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
29,097 Posts
The saxpics serial number chart has it being made in 1940, before the U.S. got in the war. It's definitely made before the Super Twenty, and after the square keyed models which had the quirks of the late Voll-True horns. So what you have is the top of the line tenor from King at the time it was made. A very good vintage tenor.

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
20,665 Posts
If we assume that the revision to rounded keys, and the Bb touch now having been extended so one lobe sits below the B coincided with the change from the VT-II body to the S-20-like body....then I agree with everything posted by my Forum mates above.

And that is likely the case. 247,XXX serial is near the transition point (most folks roughly consider that to be around the 250,XXX area)

Only way to tell for sure would be to measure the body and compare it to a VT-II or S20 spec. But I speculate it'd show to be post VT-II body.

281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, everyone.

I'll accept that I'm reading too much into the engraving vs. what's shown in the catalogs. If we discard the engraving, my horn does match that image from the post-war 1946 (and 1947) catalogs.
But the pre-war 1940 catalog shows the Zephyr with the old VT-II square touches and the Zephyr Special with the newer style touches. The saxpics (and SN charts date it to 1940. There are no 1941-1945 catalogs to be found.

So, sometime after the 1940 catalog was printed and before the US entry into WW2, the "regular" Zephyr was transitioned from VT-II style to Zephyr Special body/keywork without all the engraving and pearls. And that's where my horn sits. Does this sound reasonable?

Another tidbit of info - mine does not have a tabbed G#. Did the S-20 have this when first introduced?

Tenor: 1945 Zephyr, Bari: 1962 12M, Alto: 1925 NW II
72 Posts
I have a Zephyr that is a couple years newer than yours, early 269xxx. It is my main horn, I absolutely love it. Going off of Saxpics, I guessed the manufactur date of it to around 1945 - either towards the end of the war or just after. Mine has all the same key work as yours. Its that odd transition where they got rid of all the square keys except the G#. I believe the horns that were being sold to the military durring the war were this same style, just with different engravings.

It really is a beautiful horn though. It has a terific sound. Enjoy it.
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