Edit: I have since met the man who bought this La Fleur. Kevin lives in the Metro Vancouver region. He and I have gotten together, and I have had the opportunity to see this alto in person. I’m therefore updating this post with the information that I have gleaned from my personal observations of this mysterious saxophone. Some of this information is already contained in the comments for this post. However, I felt it was important to update the post itself, and make it accurate.
When I came across this ad the other day on eBay, my heart jumped into my throat, because I thought that I had found a neck for my Klingsor tenor. This horn was even located here in Canada! Then I realized that this was an alto, and I thought: Crap, not another alto.
Up for auction on eBay, is a La Fleur alto saxophone.
The seller, a music store from Winnipeg, Quest Musique, describes the sax like this:
This sax was owned by a local professional Jazz Tenor Sax player and needs quite a bit of work. Save big, get it here and fix it locally!
- Yellow Brass Body
- Made In England
- Case Included
This instrument was made by LaFleur Band instruments in England and is made quite durably. This sax needs several pads replaced and an alignment done as well as the neck cork replaced. The construction feels very solid, built like a tank. It’s not in a playable condition yet, but should make for a decent student horn. The only noticeable denting is on the bow (pic 3) and the lacquer is about 50%. The case is very basic plywood and unpadded.
This sax was actually made by the Karl Hammerschmidt company in Burgau, Germany. Hammerschmidt sold their saxophones under the brand name Klingsor. However, they made alto and tenor saxophones for England and Japan under the names La Fleur and La Fleur Deluxe. ¹
After seeing this horn in person, I can say with 99.9% certainty that this is not a Hammerschmidt saxophone. While it has many of the features of Hammerschmidts—and I’ve itemized these throughout this post—one unique feature it is missing is the 2nd octave vent in the body tube. Also, after seeing the sax in person, I can say it just doesn’t look or feel like a Hammerschmidt. Whatever it is however, like the Hammerschmidts, it is a very heavy horn.
If you look at the photos, you can clearly see the Hammerschmidt pedigree of this La Fleur saxophone. In the first photo, the one of the sax and its neck in the case, you can see the ridging on the underside of the neck that acted as the neck guard. This rather distinctive feature was found on the Hammerschmidt saxophones, and on most of their stencils. For example, it can be seen on the neck of this Genton alto, and on the neck of this Klingsor tenor.
The left-sided bell keys, and the left pinkie cluster with its nail file G#, are somewhat different to the other Hammerschmidt saxophones that I’ve seen to date, but not out of character with what we know of the company.
Hammerschmidt’s first saxophones were greatly influenced by the Conns of the time. As a matter of fact, I recently saw a Hammerschmidt with opposable bell keys on a European auction site. That saxophone would pre-date this one. And this Hammerschmidt, that was up for sale in Brazil in May of this year, had a nail file G# as well, along with a more 10M-style left pinkie cluster.
Getting back to the La Fleur, in the photo of the bow, you can see the rolled tone holes that this sax has. This too was a feature of all Hammerschmidt horns.
Hammerschmidt did not make student saxophones. This is a pro horn… Regardless of what the tech at Quest Musique might think about it. ²
If I didn’t already have a too many altos, including a full-pearl Hammerschmidt with the extra trill keys (which needs a restoration), I would most likely go for this sax. But I don’t play alto enough—read: at all—to buy yet another one…Regardless how good the price might be.
The auction for this La Fleur alto ends on December 28. Bidding starts at $0.99. At the time of writing, there were no bids yet on this vintage Hammerschmidt saxophone, in La Fleur clothing.
¹ From the Hammerschmidt page of my main Bassic Sax site. This information came from a German saxophone researcher who had written about the Karl Hammerschmidt Company.
² Despite this La Fleur not being made by Hammerschmidt, I stand by my statement. This was not built as a student horn. There is no reason that with a proper rebuild, that this sax wouldn’t play as well as any of its vintage pro counterparts.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me the day I visited Kevin, so I’ll have to take it along the next time to capture some of this sax’s peculiarities. For example, the tone holes for the left palm keys are the tiniest I have ever seen on an alto saxophone. Compared to the ones found on my Hammerschmidt alto, they are just over 1/2 the size. (I’m guessing here, since I didn’t have the horns side by side, but I think I’m pretty close.)
For more in-depth discussion about this La Fleur’s possible pedigree, please see the comment below where I quote former Saxpics owner Pete Hales, who gave his input into this unusual vintage horn.