The King company—under its founder Henderson N. White—began its foray into the saxophone world in 1908 as importer for Evette & Schaeffer saxophones. At the time they were a less expensive alternative to American-made horns. When Carl Fisher won the rights to become the sole distributor for Evette & Schaeffer saxes in 1910, the King company had to look elsewhere. Mr. H.N. White chose to go with importing V. Kohlert saxophones, while at the same time developing King’s own saxophone production facilities.
By around 1916 King was producing its own saxophones, and by 1925 the company already introduced a new series of 8 horns which included the: C soprano, straight and curved Bb soprano, Bb Saxello, Eb alto, C melody, Bb tenor, and Eb baritone. These saxophones were all heavily influenced by King company associate, Henry Dreves.¹
Today the vintage King (H.N. White) saxophones are among the most desired and pricey of American-made horns. The Super 20 Silver-Sonics and the Zephyr Specials are 2 models that fetch the most money among the conventional horns. Original King Saxellos too are in demand if in good repair, and in good cosmetic condition. These horns were so far ahead of their time, that modern saxophone manufacturers are again making Saxello-shaped horns.
To see some examples of fine vintage King saxophones, check out the King Gallery in Bassic Sax Pix.
¹ From the very informative site hnwhite.com. If you are looking for information about the King company prior to the sale by the White family, this is the place to go. Check out the saxophone section for all kinds of interesting information about the models that they produced, and some samples of vintage King ads.