This morning I got an email from a reader of my site who thought I might be interested in something he saw on eBay. As soon as I saw the URL I was excited, because it’s not everyday that a Couesnon Saxie appears for sale.
Some of you might remember that I did write about a Saxie last April, but that particular instrument belonged to fellow who used it sometimes in presentations. The owner was kind enough to send me a couple of photos of the instrument, and describe the vintage horn in some detail.
The Saxie is pitched in the key of C, and its lowest note is D, just below the first line of the staff. The large holes at the bottom of the body tube are how the horn vents, and the bow and bell are purely decorative. The key closest to the neck is an octave key, while the one mid way down the horn is an F# key.
Now I don’t recall ever seeing a Saxie for sale or auction before, and that’s what makes today’s particular eBay find rather interesting. If you’ve ever wanted to have a Saxie to call your very own, here’s your chance.
The seller describes the little horn like this:
Antique Toy Saxophone. It is 88 years old and belonged to my father who would be 98. All I know about it is what it says on the bell: ” “Couesnon & Cie – Paris – Chateau Thierry France = Saxie = U S Patent June 3Rd 1924 – BTE S.G.3.D -” It has been sitting on our shelf for 30 years and is very tarnished. Some of the pictures show it tarnished. Other pictures is after it was cleaned. It looked like copper. Then I cleaned it with Brasso as best I could and it looks more like brass. I really don’t know what it is made of. As you can see, the bottom is dented and the back is more tarnished than the front. It has open holes and 2 levers and a mouthpiece. I don’t know if it plays or is strictly a toy. I pretty much know nothing about this except that it belonged to my father. If you have any questions, I would be glad to try and answer them. He also had a toy trumpet I am selling.
In April my colleague Pete Hales, the man formerly known as Sax Pics, postulated that despite what the original patent might have said, these little instruments were not built as toys. Rather, when Couesnon bought the rights to Frederick B. Hammann’s patent, they converted the toy into a gateway drug to the world of real saxophones.
This is what Pete wrote earlier this year:
If I was to venture an opinion on the Saxie and other sax-related toys, I’d say they were primarily used as a “gateway drug” into Couesnon’s real saxophones. I also think they were throwing out a lot of ideas to see if any would stick so they’d build some market share in the US.
Hey, they were one of the largest manufacturers in France, but the real sax-related money was in the US.
I also know that Couesnon more-or-less insisted in their ads that their sax/clarinet/oboe variants were “real” instruments, not toys.
If this little vintage horn by Couesnon is your gateway drug into sax-shaped things, you have until September 4 to get your bids in. At the time of writing there were 3 bids on this Saxie, with the high bid being $10.50. My prediction: the price will go quite a bit higher.