Saxophone Forum


by MLink
(2 posts)
10 years ago

Questions about a French MK VI

I have a French Mark VI alto (SN 86197, 1960) that doesn't have some of the "standard" markings. There is no "Mark VI" stamped on it and the neck piece does not have the serial number of the horn. I've read all MK VI's have those. Anyone have any knowledge of why mine wouldn't?

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  1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
    (767 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Questions about a French MK VI

    some Mk VIs were unengraved. Serial numbers on the neck was stopped about #120,000. If yours doesn't have a serial# however, it might not be the original neck. You sure it's a Selmer?

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    1. by bhimpel
      (1 post)

      10 years ago

      Re: Questions about a French MK VI

      I have an answer as well as questions. I have heard that saxes for the European market do not have a serial number stamp on the bottom ring of the neck. However, you will almost always find the last 3 digits of the serial number under the octave key scratched in by hand (just unscrew it and slide the spring to the side). If the last 3 digits are the same, then it will most likely be the right neck. For the American market the stamped numbers on the bottom ring of the neck stopped at around #120,000 like johnson said. Now here are my questions: 1. If Mark VIs have the "Paris-London-New York" stamp on the bell, is it automatically an American made sax? I think, the answer is no, and that Mark VIs are made for the American market if and only if the flower engraving on the bell does not extend to the bottom bow. Any objections? 2. I am interested in buying an early Mark VI (European). The neck sounds great and full, has exactly the same color as the body. It looks like the original neck. The laquer is definitely original. However, the 3 digits under the octave key are not easy to read. It looks almost like the third digit is different. If the original laquer of neck and body has exactly the same color, will the neck most likely be original? I am unsure, if I only go by the numbers. Maybe the scratching was sloppily done.

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  2. by connsaxman_jim
    (2336 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Questions about a French MK VI

    Interesting. I'm not really a Selmer expert. I collect vintage Conns, although I do have a couple Selmers also. Both of mine are French made. I have a 1952 SBA alto and a 1954 Mk VI tenor. The tenor has the floral engraving and is clearly marked "Mark VI". It does have the engraving on the neck as well as the body. Mine says Henri Selmer Paris (not London or New York) If it doesn't say Mark VI are you sure it's not an Balanced Action or some other model? I've never seen a Mark VI that wasn't stamped "Mark VI". I also wonder if it might be a copy.

    Reply To Post Yahoo!


    1. by zoot51
      (10 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Questions about a French MK VI

      All Balanced Actions, Mark VI's, etc. were MADE in France. The ones that were shipped to the US were ENGRAVED here (in Elkhart, IN), which explains why those that were sold in Europe have different (or no) engraving. Engraving, which is done by hand and is expensive, went out of favor during the Mark VII era, but returned (thankfully) with the SA80. Early Mark VI's are marked on the back of the body tube near the octave key, later ones on the ring at the bell connection, but ALL are marked.

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      1. by justforfun
        (4 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Questions about a French MK VI

        I have a very late Mark VI bari, which is built in the Mark VII period. It does not have a Mark VI label. Not a good comparison, but if it is a Selmer sax with the correct serial number, there should be no doubt about it...

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        1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Questions about a French MK VI

          Apparently, there seems to be some issue with variability of how Selmer did things back then. Generally, serial#s appeared on the neck of pre 120,000 horns, but not always. Selmer was inconsistant about such practices I guess. Also, strangely, some late MVI Baris were marked with Mk VII, but they are still Mark VIs. There is no proof that tooling for an actual mark VII Baritone or Soprano was ever made.

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        2. by MLink
          (2 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Questions about a French MK VI

          OK. I took my horn to the local experts Jim Scimonetti Sr. and Jr. They both agree it is a true Mark VI, French made, French engraved (I never doubted that, I just wanted their opinions of the markings). The last 3 digits of the serial number ARE hand etched under the octave key on the neck, but no other markings are on the neck (no serial #). There is no MarkVI stamped anywhere on the horn but they said Selmer just wasn't consistent on the early VIs during the transition from the SBAs. I'm satisfied with that. Thanks for all your inputs, this was interesting!

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        3. by Philo114
          (6 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Questions about a French MK VI

          MLink, you got some very interesting ideas here didn't you. When I first bought my Mark VI in NYC from Sal Fromskin on 8th Ave, I thought I was being ripped off because like you, my music teacher Benny Benochio made Sal take out a horn he had in a corner. That horn was laid away by Rasaad Roland Kirk, when he left for the West Coast and never picked up the horn, my teacher paid the deposit back to Sal and I paid the tax and she was mine. I looked at the horn and was very disappointed that it lacked the beautiful flowers that were engraved on other Mark VI's my friends had at School and that it also Lacked the Mark VI stamp on the bow ring front or back. I soon found out that Benny my music teacher told me that this was a French Mark VI and that it was made in France and the French believed that engraving a horn weaked not only the sound but also the horn's structure, he further added that when Mark VI's became popular they were shipped here and engraved to make them more attractive as we see with many other saxophones that were engraved here and of course stamped with the Mark VI to easily ID the horn as a Mark VI and not a SBA Selmer. Needless to say, I still didn't like what I had bought for the money, back then 450.00 dollars with tax 489.00 dollars. When I got home and I first played that sax, it was like going to heaven. I had tried playing the engraved models from my friends at school, they were cool, but this one had a quality all it's own. This is what everyone is saying about the Mark VI's, everyone with the engraved models played my French Mark VI and were really impressed with her more than their horns. I knew the top repair men in the down town area and I went to a couple of them because the guy's at school were messing with me that my sax was not a Mark VI because it lacked the engraving and the stamp Mark VI on bow of the horn. I took the horn to Rodney Baltimore and when he saw this horn it was like he had to have it and although my serial number were in the low six digits 114XXX. He told me that I should not let this horn out of my sight for a second and till this day I sweat even when she goes out for repair and is insured for it's value. I went to Charles Ponte and his brother on 46st and the Ponte Brothers wanted to give me a Mark VII telling me it was the newest Selmer had to offer and that it was better than a Mark VI, I of course took Rodney's advice and refused even when they offered me an additional 400.00 dolars to go with it. My horn was made in 1963 or 64 and the condition was new in 1969, so you see, we are the lucky ones to have such a distingish horn, the black sheep so to speak of the Selmer Mark VI's. I also heard that these horns were made exclusively for the studio, how much of that is true, I don't know, but I will tell you that in the studio it she does play well, her intonation is superb and has a rich round sound. I have not heard in another saxophone, except for some vintage saxes I was trying out in a couple of vintage shops in New Jersey and New York shops... Horns like the King Super 20, Naked Lady, The Martin Tenor, Selmer Balanced Action, and I loved the 400 Bueschers or the Big B, including the Aristocrat which one of my teacher played. I Hope this helps and don't ever let her out of your sight MLink.... I just had my French Mark VI overhauled, no laquer, but this repairman and his staff did such a beautiful job on my Hayne's Flute that if my Selmer come back anything like the flute, I'll be ready for the 12 years of playing on an fully restored French Mark VI... God bless and happy playing. Philo114

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