|Pan American Bass Saxes||Pan Am Bass #38176||Pan American Patent||Stencil vs. Second Line Horns||Stencil Names|
|Rumors||Holton Bass #PA2814||Feature Chart: Pan Am & Stencil Bass Saxophones|
Pan American: second line saxophones
In addition to Conn-labelled instruments the company produced under various models, Conn also had a separate division called Pan American. Pan American were what were called second line instruments. Whereas the brand name Conn horns were the pro model horns of the day, these second line horns were not marketed that way by Conn. They were less expensive, and generally aimed at the amateur and student model market.
How did second line horns differ from their brand name cousins? Generally they were simpler in design; had less features (such as little or no engraving, no rolled tone holes); and/or were based on older designs altogether.
However, Conn did treat its second line horns a bit differently than other manufacturers of the day may have. The Pan American instrument line had its own patents, trademarks, catalogs, models and dealer structure. For anyone who is interested in finding out more about Pan American saxophones in general, please see the article I wrote in 2016, which contains all the saxophone pages from a 1931 catalogue.
Pan American bass saxophones
The Pan American 56M, Bb bass saxophone was a very close cousin to Conn’s 14M. Brian at getasax.com had one in inventory that provides us with a fantastic view of these seldom-seen beasts.
Name on bell: Pan American
Patent #: 1153489
Serial #: 38176
Finish: Silver plated
Tone holes: Drawn & straight
Key touches: MOP
Water key: Yes
Fork Eb: Yes
Bis Bb: No
check out the chart below.
No mention of the Pan American 56M would be complete without Steven Howard’s fantastic review he did. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?
1,153,49. Patented Sept. 14, 1915
This is the patent number and date for the Pan American line of instruments. Paul C. Hardy applied for this patent while working for Conn. It is different than what is commonly referred to as the Haynes patent (1,119,954 December 8, 1914), which was actually held by flute maker, William S. Haynes of Boston, and only licensed to Conn. (Something they did on their name-brand horns.)
The Pan American bass shown above that Get A Sax sold, is indeed stamped with this patent number. However, as you will see below, the same is not true for all stencil bass saxophones that Conn produced.
Stencil vs. second line horns
I already have an entire page dedicated to the definition of stencil and second line saxophones on this site. Additionally, I have what is likely the most comprehensive listing of stencil names/manufacturers you will find anywhere—many linking to corresponding images or gallery pages.
Therefore rather than regurgitate all this information again, I’m just going to quote the relevant highpoints for you here:
Very simply put, a stencil saxophone is a horn that was made by one of the major manufacturers for another company or perhaps a music store. The ordering company would then have their name engraved, or “stenciled”, on the saxophone, and then the horn was sold without any reference to the actual manufacturer….
Second-line horns [were] really student or intermediate level horns made and sold by major saxophone manufacturers under a separate name. While Conn had the Pan American, Buescher had the Elkhart, Martin had the Indiana, and King had the Cleveland.
Source: Stencil Saxes on Bassic Sax
Conn made stencil bass saxophones under a host of different names. The ones I have photos of have been included in the chart below.
The names we find stencilled on Conn bass saxophone bells include:
- Beaufort American
- Keynote Music
- Selmer USA
Stencil bass saxophones made by Conn & some common rumours
Once you start diving into all the different Conn stencil basses you start to notice something: there is quite a bit of variety to them. This has also led to a lot of rumours over the years as players, as well as sellers of these horns, have tended to make gross generalizations with only a limited sample size.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common rumours I have seen in the online saxophone community, and see how the actual evidence I have collected over the years either supports or dispels them. This should make it easier for owners and would-be owners of these stencil horns, to have a better ideas of what they’re looking at.
Conn stencils all have a serial # starting with a letter P.
This is false.
As you can see from the serial #’s in the chart below, not all Conn bass saxophones start with a P. Some have no letters before their numbers at all. While others, like this Holton bass #PA2814, have extra/different letters to start its serial #.
Conn stencils are all stamped: 1,153,49. Patented Sept. 14, 1915
This is false.
I have tracked multiple Conn stencil bass saxes that the company made using the Haynes patent, and are stamped: 1,119,954 December 8, 1914.
Below is the full gallery of photos for the Holton bass #PA2814 whose serial # I noted above. The Haynes patent is clearly visible above the the serial.
Pan American saxophones are just a poor man’s Conn, with budget key work.
This is false.
As has already been shown, Conn and Pan American saxophones were different at the body tube/tone hole level. Sure, they may well have had other key work, but Conn held their own patent for the tone hole production that was used in the manufacturing of the Pan American line.
Bottom line, if the horn is stamped: 1,153,49. Patented Sept. 14, 1915, it is totally different instrument than one that is stamped: 1,119,954 December 8, 1914.
Pan American was a Conn stencil.
This is false.
As already discussed, Pan American was Conn’s second line. They were NOT a stencil. Period. End of statement.
Compare/Contrast Conn stencil & second line bass saxophones
Below is a table in which I have entered the data for all the Pan American, as well as Conn stencil bass saxophones, that I have images of. I have included links to their pages in Bassic Sax Pix if the horn is uploaded to the gallery.
If a box is in the table is blank, it is because they images I have either don’t show the area of the horn where the feature would be, or because the images are so blurry that I can’t make out the details.
Over time as I find more examples of both Pan American and Conn bass saxophones, I will populate this table with further content.
|Name on Bell||Patent #||Serial #||Finish||Range||Water Key||Bis Bb||Key Touches||Tone Holes||Bell Keys||Fork Eb||Octave Lever||Left Pinkie Cluster||Bell to Body Bracing||Image Links||Comments|
|Beaufort American||1119954||P24385||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||2 X braces||Gallery Link|
|Blessing||1153489||32XXX||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with smooth G#||2 X braces||Gallery Link|
|Gretsch||1153489||P31545||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with smooth G#||2 X braces|
|Holton||1119954||PA2814||Lacquer with nickel plated keys||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||3 rollers with smooth G#||1 X brace bottom & 1 straight brace mid body tube||See under Rumor 2|
|Holton||Unreadable - refinished black||P18784||Refinished in black & brass||Bb - Eb||Yes - likely add on||No||MOP||Straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with round MOP G#||1 X brace bottom & 1 straight brace mid body tube||Gallery Link|
|Holton||1119954||P22293||Silver plated with gold wash bell||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with smooth G#||1 X brace bottom & 1 straight brace mid body tube|
|Holton||RA43XX||Lacquered||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Straight||Split||Yes||3 roller with smooth G#||1 X brace bottom & 1 straight brace mid body tube||Gallery Link|
|Keynote Music||P24XXX||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||2 X braces||Gallery Link|
|Keynote Music||1119954||P24403||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with smooth G#||2 X braces||Gallery Link|
|Martin||34242||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Straight||Split||Yes||2 X braces|
|Martin||1153489||44433||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Tear drop shaped||1 X brace mid body tube & 1 straight brace bottom||Gallery Link|
|Masterbilt||1119954||P11905||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||No||No||Metal/plain||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Tear drop shaped||3 rollers with round plain G#||1 X brace - mid body tube||Gallery Link|
|Pan American||1153489||38176||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with smooth G#||2 X braces||Shown under Pan American Bass Saxophones (top of page)|
|Selmer USA||N/A||P1001||Lacquered||Bb - Eb||No||No||Metal/plain||Soldered, straight||Split||Yes||Tear drop shaped||3 rollers with round plain G#||1 straight brace mid body tube||Gallery Link|
|USQMC||10349||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||No||MOP||Split||Yes||Tear drop shaped||1 X brace - mid body tube||Gallery Link|
|Wurlitzer||1119954||P18780||Lacquered||Bb - Eb||Yes||No||MOP||Drawn, straight||Split||Yes||Shaped around L thumb rest||3 rollers with round MOP G#||2 X braces||Gallery Link|
|York||678XX||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||No||No||MOP||Soldered, straight||Split||Yes||Tear drop shaped||1 X brace - mid body tube||Gallery Link|
|York||69770||Silver plated||Bb - Eb||Yes||Yes - added later||MOP||Straight||Split||Yes||Rectangular on right side of thumb rest||1 X brace - mid body tube||Gallery Link||Not sure this was built entirely by Conn.|