Couesnon Monopole Alto Up For Auction On eBay

Last November I mentioned a very pretty Couesnon Monopole Series II that someone was selling on eBay. On eBay these horns are almost as rare as, well… hens teeth… If you’ll pardon the pun. :mrgreen:

Currently someone is selling what appears to be a  Couesnon Monopole pre series I alto.

     Source: eBay.com

Here is what the seller says about this vintage French alto:

A simply beautiful silver plated alto saxophone, made by one of France’s finest (and sadly, now no longer) manufacturers.

The saxophone has just been given a total overhaul, new Premium pads, corks, felts, some springs. The overhaul was done by Mr Ray Colomb, one of the UK’s finest instrument repairers. It is playing very nicely.

Rolled tone holes, sweet action, faultless intonation (tuning), most of the silver plate remaining, very high quality construction, and wait for it – HIGH F#! (If some afficionado can help me with dating this beauty, I would be very grateful – high F#?)

The tone of the alto is very satisfying. It posesses a huge, complex, colour range. Its mid- to upper register is just enormous, with bite, and clarity. Altissimos just seem to be part of the normal register. It is completely comparable to an SML: I actually prefer Couesnons – they have an inbuilt sort of reliability and solidity, a hard one to explain.

Couesnon’s records all got destroyed in a factory fire, so the the serial # 2090 doesn’t mean much. I would say that it is from the late 1930′s, but I might be wrong. That would put it from the new factory period, just before the Monopole 1 came out. (This does have ‘Monopole’ stamped on it, however). Check out the art deco key guards – definitely late 1930s.

Comes with a new Jupiter case.

Have a listen to me playing the alto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wltDiappNK4

Here is the Monopole insignia. According to SaxPics, when Couesnon introduced the Series I sometime in the 1930s, a number of changes were introduced. They included: right sided bell keys, rolled tone holes, and a double socket neck.

     Source: eBay.com

The sax has left sided bell keys.

     Source: eBay.com

     Source: eBay.com

     Source: eBay.com

Note the articulation switch under the G# lever.¹ This was patented by Couesnon in 1935. Here is the link to a copy of the original patent document on SaxPics.

     Source: eBay.com

Here is a shot of the high F# key.

     Source: eBay.com

Here you can see the rolled tone holes very clearly.

     Source: eBay.com

     Source: eBay.com

Unfortunately there are no reliable serial number charts for this brand, so #2090 doesn’t tell us what year it was made. However, the patented articulation switch under the G# key dates it post 1935.

     Source: eBay.com

     Source: eBay.com

This sax does not have does not have a the double socket neck that was introduced in the Series I. That combined with the other things we see on the horn indicate that it is most likely a pre series I Monopole.

     Source: eBay.com

The price for this Monopole alto sax by Couesnon runs until July 8. The Buy It Now price is GBP 625.00—which eBay estimates currently as $924.19 US.

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¹ I would like to thank Woodwind Forum member Chris, for pointing out the obscure articulation switch to me. Couesnon is not one of the brands that I’m familiar with, and it really slipped past me. Thanks Chris! You taught me something about a relatively uncommon, vintage French saxophone brand. I do appreciate it.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

© 2010, Helen. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Couesnon Monopole Alto Up For Auction On eBay

  1. i have a 1930 monopole couesnon sax in excellent condition. unfourtunately i do not know much about saxophones, and i found it in the attic- it has absolutely no signs of wear, the pineapple has the number ’30′ in it, so i figured it is from 1930. it has the monopole insignia. im looking to sell it, but want a fair price- any suggestions?

    • Hi Kevin. Welcome to my site.

      Whenever I get asked questions like this, I always suggest people check out this page on my website. It will help them begin the process of estimating the worth of their horn.

      With vintage saxophones, condition is a significant factor in their worth. (Among other things of course.) Couesnon Monopole saxes are really a niche market horn, in that they don’t have the widespread appeal that say a King or a Selmer would have. Also, they are a not nearly as well known as some of their French counterparts such as Buffet and of course Selmer.

      Check out the page on my site, and see what you come up with. Also, check out the vintage horn dealers out there.

      If you would like me to help you out more, I would need some photos of your horn. Check out this page of my site for the types of photos I would need to best assist you. Please send any photos to my gmail account.

      Hope this has been helpful.

      Regards,

      Helen

  2. Update: It appears this vintage Monopole pre-Series I alto did not sell. I could see no offers, and nothing to indicate that the sax sold.

  3. Thanks Pete! Great link.

    I did try making my way through the directories, but I must admit, not ever having seen a Couesnon in person, puts me at a real disadvantage. Pics work well, but it helps me when I have a personal frame of reference to compare them to. Each brand has so many peculiarities that with pics alone, they do tend to blur into each other very quickly. This is a result of my learning style, the way my brain now processes information since becoming ill, and the Rx I’m on for pain management, so YMMV… At least I sure hope it does! :o

    • Amusingly enough, I’ve gotten to have a good memory for pictures. This has been helpful in the past, as I’ve occasionally been on eBay (or some such) and can say, “Wait. I’ve seen that horn before. It was featured on that dealer’s website. I wonder if he knows that.” I’ve caught several fake ads like that.

      I also remember that there was this one very nice horn that couldn’t stay sold. I think it was a perfect looking gold plated Martin Handcraft. Every couple months for about two years it’d pop back up on eBay, sometimes with the original ad’s pics, sometimes with new ones.

      BTB, I did compile a list of directories to help navigate saxpics.com awhile back. I posted the original on SOTW, but I updated it for my temp blog. It’s at http://208.95.77.77/thesaxinfo/?p=198.

  4. You’ve found horns from an interesting chapter in Couesnon history.

    In 1931, Couesnon was “reformed”: the original company was a conglomeration of other companies and they came up with a different conglomeration in 1931. So, from appx. 1931 to appx. 1937, you had a small amount of really interesting looking horns that you very rarely see anyplace.

    I mentioned on saxpics.com that there seemed to be this “gap” in Couesnon manufacture from appx. 1931 to appx. 1937. The model you have pictured here is one of those horns that fill in that gap.

    Before I sold saxpics.com, I did upload a few picture directories of these odd horns. You can see them at http://saxpics.com/the_gallery/couesnon/1930s. Lots of variations: split bell keys, right bell keys and left bell keys.

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