Saxophone Forum


by karenfromiowa
(7 posts)
9 years ago

Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

I need help to identify who made this saxophone, age of it and approximate value so I can sell it plus what type it is, re alto, tenor,?? It belonged to my grandfather. He was born in 1908 and played the saxophone when him and grandmother met which would of been in the mid 1920's, I believe. It is a straight saxophone. It has on the bell Lyon Healy Chicago USA and Couturier(?spelling) Model. Then says C on one line, followed by 15331 on next line and L on last line. Is this the serial number and does C and L mean low C? I know next to nothing about instruments. It is brass and is in superb condition, no dents, really a well taken care of instrument. The lacquer is over 95% intact. Has mother of pearl buttons and mother of pearl on what look like rollers. The holes look to be beveled where they meet the leather pad, meaning they have straight sides then at top edge tilt inwards. By the way, I blew in it and it made noise. Any help much appreciated, I need the money or wouldn't otherwise part with this family heirloom but also want to get my best price.

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  1. by SaxMan
    (559 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

    it is a stencil - a martin stencil - unless the beveling is just some severe tone hole warpage - which I have rebuilt a sax that looked like a martin in pictures because of the dreadful tonehole condition. do the tone holes look like this? www.saxpics.com/the_gallery/martin/handcraft/c_soprano/brass/6660x/i-5_B_L.JPG the "L" means low pitch - the useable pitch in todays music, and the "C" means that it is in the key of C - rather than Bb like most sopranos. (This is a soprano.) C sopranos have a fair amount of demand, and are a lot of fun to play. If it is playable, and everything is in good order, I would expect you to get no less than 800 for it. It was definately made in the 1920's.


    1. by karenfromiowa
      (7 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

      Thanks so much for your info. The tone holes are definitely not warped or worn in the least bit, this instrument is in very good actually excellent condition and they look to be like the ones in the pic you posted. So it must be a Martin. It is playable, at least it makes noise when I blow into it. I am so dumb on instruments that I have no idea how to truly play it or if it sounds like it should. At any rate, I doubt most of this time era are in this nice of shape as it is a beauty. Retains most of its original lacquered finish. Has leather pads which look to be in very good condition. The mother of pearl is all in fantastic condition. Has a couple mouthpieces and a mouthpiece guard, silver piece that slips over the mouthpiece which looks to be original as the patina and wear on the silver gives its age away. Of course, has what I am sure its original case which is in good shape too. DO YOU THINK IF I LIST IT ON EBAY, IT WOULD BRING THE $800. THERE or should I put a reserve on it? I don't know anywhere else to sell it quickly and I would like to have the money quickly. If I didn't need the money, I wouldn't even sell it. Thanks again.


      1. by Sax Mom
        (964 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

        My opinion is that you will not get even close to $800 on Ebay. Most of us go to Ebay to get something for as little money as possible. You are unlikely to get what it's worth on Ebay. My suggestion would be to check with consigning in on this (saxquest) site. If you send it in, they can also give a review on the instrument by people who know how to evaluate the instrument. If it really is in as good a condition as you believe, it will probably sell fairly quickly here, since the previous responder knows the horn and says they are fun to play.


        1. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          It's definately a Martin stencil. It was made around 1923, give or take a vouple years. It is C Soprano in low pitch. Lyon Healy was a distributer in the Chicago are who imported and sold musical instruments among other things. (Kind of like a Sears Roebuck. In fact, I think they were bought out by Sears Roebuck) But, $750-$900 is what these things usually go for. I'd have to disagree with SaxMom about ebay. I've seen some horns bring good money on ebay, and you'll have better exposure on ebay that probably anywhere else. This is one of those horns that you have to find the right buyer for, so I would caution you that your ad can make or break this sale. Take lots of pictures and be as detailed as possible. Take close pictures of the engraving and the serial number. I'd list it on ebay with a reserve of say $700 and see what happens. If it doesn't sell, you can always relist it with a lesser reserve ot try other means of selling it. I really think ebay is your best option though.


        2. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          you cant use the serial number like the regular serial number, except for the bueschers, which are all stamped at the factory - with stencils, the stencil company used their own serial number.


        3. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          Sure you can use the Serial number, that's what it's for! DOH!!! But, I'm familiar with Lyon & Healy too. I know that their earlier horns were imported Evett Schafer models, and that their later models were made by Martin and that Lyon and Healy went out of business during the time of the Great Depression. It's a Martin stencil NOT a Martin. It's a Lyon and Healy! If you were checking the serial number of a Conn would you look at a list of Selmer numbers? NO!!!


        4. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          A stencil used to be a sax that used older materials or tooling that the company's current saxes were being made with, so they are almost identical. No, you wouldnt look at the serial number for selmer for a conn stencil, but you wouldn't look at the serial number list for conn either - it isn't the same. Lyon and healy stamped their serial number on their horns - it wasn't conns serial number.


        5. by karenfromiowa
          (7 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          If these serial number lists are estimates, then they are pretty darn accurate. In a conversation with family members, I just learned yesterday that Grandpa got this saxophone when he was 16. Born in 1908 + 16=1924. So it probably was a model from 1923 or earlier, in stock waiting to be sold. I been sick all week, just got some pics taken. I am confident this horn is in superb condition. What can I check on the horn, to further back up what I believe to be true? The pads are leather, look to all be in great shape. They all close well and work freely. I am positive this horn is original lacquer as the patina coincides with its age. Has very little loss of lacquer. No dents, found one pinhead size ding, so extremely minor. No other visible damages. The silver cover that goes over mouthpiece to protect it, is not in great condition, bent out of shape and dinged up. All help appreciated. If I can get more and better pics taken today, and figure out how to describe it accurately then will try to list it very soon on ebay and hope to sell it. How much commission does this saxquest charge to consign it? I found no info on this site about their fees? I still think ebay is a quicker sale though and probably earn top dollar, if I have help to describe it well. Wish I knew how to play it, so I could say it sounds good.


        6. by karenfromiowa
          (7 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          HOw do I post pictures here?


        7. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          Karen, you're welcome to send me pics. I've never tried to post pictures to this forum so I really have no idea how you would do that. I'm 99.9% sure just from the information you gave me that this is a 1923 Lyon and Healy made by Martin, and it sounds like it's in pretty good shape. I'd say that it's easily worth $700, and I wouldn't take less than that. It could bring as much as $1500. You just need to find the right buyer who is somewhat familiar with the brand and type of saxophone it is and wants it bad enough to pay what it's really worth. Feel free to contact me via email with any further questions. I do appraisals of many vintage musical instruments, specializing in vintage Conn, but I also deal with other makes. My email address is jimmyalber@yahoo.com


        8. by reallynewtothis
          (15 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          On 15-5, at 4:35:32 PM you posted: I did not state anything about going to a martin serial number list". But in yor previous post (12/5/2004 1:39:31 AM) you wrote: "You stated that you would have to look at a martin serial number list to find the date of manufacture -"


        9. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          I think you better read the post again there reallynewtothis. I never said anything about looking at Martin serial numbers. SaxMan, you're not going to find a list of stencil serials on SOTW or Saxpics, but there are some available. Every one of them has a serial number. Every stencil ever made. These serial numbers were stamped at the factory in which they were made, and in most cases, THE MANUFACTURING COMPANY KEPT A LIST OF THESE NUMBERS. You just need to know where to get your information!


        10. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          The GM thing was a little rough, I'll give you that. The point I was trying to make is that one company makes several different models with similarities but yet they are all slightly different. Some more different than others. I am very familiar with the Pontiac 389 and the Chevrolet 396. I just helped a buddy restore a 1966 GTO with a 389, and I had a 1969 Chevelle SS 396. I'm working on a 1955 Bel Air right now, with a 350 small block. I've stripped it down to the frame, but I doubt I'll do too much more with it until spring. Anyways, I caution you when making general statements, such as....all stencils are lesser models. Lyon and Healy was a harp manufacture in Chicago; something I didn't know until I did some research last night. They sold a variety of musical instruments. Many of their saxophones were made by Buescher and a few of their artist models were made by Martin. They were highly praised saxes that were exactly like the Martins in every aspect, except the Lyon and Healy horns actually had nicer more detailed engravings.


        11. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          I can play anything. I can bark out a kick ass tenor solo in "Pick up the Pieces, then pick up my alto and play Mr. Magic, followed by "Turn the Page", then grab my soprano and do my remdition of "Song Bird", pick up the Tenor again for some blues like "Stormy Monday", or a little "Mustang Sally" or some old 50's rocker like "Lucille", and then back to the alto for something like "Careless Whisper" or "The One You Love", or "Lily Was Here". Part of being a good player is being versatile and being able to play a wide variety of music.


        12. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          As I said...Stencils are horns made by one company for another. Some of these horns are like their brand name counterparts, some are not. In a few cases, one company, such as Selmer, contacted Conn and said something like "We would like you to design and manufacture an affordable saxophone for us that will meet the needs of our US buyers" or "Our engineers have designed a saxophone that is more affordable to satisfy our growing US market, and we would like to contract you to build us X amout of them". There are more stencils made today than there were 60 years ago, and many of these horns are exact duplicates of each other, just stamped with different names and sold to different buyers. Some have fancier engravings, different laquer, nicer cases, etc, but they're the same basic horns. Take GM for example. They have the Cadillac, which is their luxury model, then they have the Pontiacs, Buicks, and Chevrolets. Some use the same engines, some the same transmissions, and they all use the same tail light bulbs, but they're all unique in one way or the other.


        13. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          As long as this discussion is pretty much completely off-track, I'll spin off the L&H tangent and mention that I played my alto at my grandmother's funeral last Thursday. I was accompanied by my sister playing her Lyon & Healy orchestral harp. The best playing I've ever done in the toughest of circumstances. Not a bad cadenza, either. I was going to do four measures worth but decided, literally while I was playing, to do 10. The priest started the applause when we were done. Applause at a funeral. Awkward, but strangely appropriate... Handel's "Where'er You Walk".


        14. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          Oh yeah - I work for GM, so if you guys need anything specific confirmed about their modern line or just want a discount, let me know.


        15. by karenfromiowa
          (7 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          Hi, For anyone that is interested. I just listed this saxophone on ebay This is the link: cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3768181377 Ebay item number 3768181377 It is the Lyon & Healy C Soprano sax that this discussion is about. Any questions about it, please feel free to email me. Thanks everyone for your posts and special thanks to Jim for your help. Karen


        16. by oorwullie
          (21 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          good luck with the sale karen. i think you'll get a load of bids before auction closes.


        17. by karenfromiowa
          (7 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          I sure hope I do, the more bids the merrier I will be.


        18. by azn_seagull02
          (26 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          whats GM saxmaniac?


        19. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          General Motors - though I'd rather be working with General MIDI all day...


      2. by noneckstrap
        (2 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

        I ran across karenfromiowa's post about the Lyon and Healy Couturier model sax. Usually people assume these are Martin stencils but I believe they were designed and built by Couturier in LaPorte, Ind. They have a similar tone hole design, but a side by side comparison reveals differences with Martin horns. Couturier began sax production in August 1922. On Oct. 4, 1923 they received an order to devote their entire sax production to Lyon and Healy. Unfortunately on that same day, they were forced into receivership. After the Couturier Co. went bankrupt, Lyon and Healy bought the factory and continued to produce band instruments in LaPorte, including saxophones, until they sold the manufacturing facility to Holton in April 1928. Serial numbers apparently continued in the Couturier Co. sequence with the L&H takeover somewhere in the 10 to 11,000s (there's some overlap). Well there you go, you guys was beatin' up on each other for nothin'.


        1. by oorwullie
          (21 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          well karen, hope you're happy with the price! merry xmas.


        2. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

          That's interesting noneckstrap. The pictures sure look like a Martin, and I did find a list of L & H serial numbers which indicated that the horn was built around 1923. Information I found shows that L & H horns were made by both Martin and Buescher, and I find no mention of Couturier. I wouldn't doubt it though. Unfortunatley these companies kept very loose records and after 80 years, sometimes researching these stencils can be very difficult. I would say that it is definately based on a Martin design rather built by Martin, Couturier, or Lyon and Healy.


          1. by noneckstrap
            (2 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

            My info on the Couturier connection came from the LaPorte newspapers of the 20s through the research I've been doing on the Couturier company . I don't know what they might have done before 1923. They did have a manufacturing plant in Chicago in the earlier days, but I don't know which instruments would have been made there. It seems likely that the LaPorte plant would have been their main sax plant in the 20s. Glen Richards has a 1926 L&Hsaxophone brochure on his very nice site at: www.2multiples.com/hotdance/lyon/pictures/lh23.htm Unfortunately the price list is pasted over the pictures of the LaPorte (Couturier) plant so you can't see a lot of the details. There were some interesting stories about goings on in the plant in the local papers of the time. I have a Lyon and Healy "American Artist" model C soprano that's identical in every detail to karenfromiowa's and the serial number fits the sequence pretty well (16,000) but I've seen some other not Martin-looking ones that seem to be from a different sequence.


          2. by karenfromiowa
            (7 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Help to identify my grandfathers saxophone

            This is the only family heirloom I am willing to let go of it. I have many family heirlooms that I wouldn't part with for any amount of money. This sax though, why would I want to keep it, it isn't something I would display and like you said, I have no connection to it. I have several antiques from these grandparents that I can display and they have meaning to me. Yes I am happy with the price. I think you all can agree, it did okay on the selling price. Merry Christmas to all, Karen