Europeans certainly love their toy musical instruments. Perhaps not surprising, given that some of the finest performers are European, and many of the finest musical instruments in the world were, and continue to be, European-made. With a backdrop like that, young children are introduced to music at a very early age, and what better way than through toy musical instruments that actually produce notes.
The Italian company Antonelli used to make toy musical instruments for exactly that purpose: To introduce playing music to young children through play.
According to a 1985 catalogue page I managed to dig up, Antonelli produced 2 different models of toy saxophones. I am not at all clear what the exact differences were between the 6090 and the 6900, since sadly the description page on the left is blurred beyond recognition. If I had to guess though, I would say that the 6900 had 8 keys, while the 6090 only had 4. That is only an educated guess however.
In September 2014, an Antonelli toy sax, model 6900 appeared on eBay. The little toy horn was still sealed like it came from the factory, and was described like this:
Details about Toy Saxophone VINTAGE ANTONELLI BY OSIMO Made in Italy 1960s SEALED
VINTAGE Toy Saxophone ANTONELLI BY OSIMO Made in Italy 1970’S SEALED
NEW / NEVER OPENED / FACTORY SEALED
Well the seller was hedging their bets and mentioned both the 60s and 70s in their ad. Based on the clothing of the young boy playing the toy sax, I would guess it is closer to the 80s, which would also align with the catalogue page shown above.
Is Antonelli now owned by Bontempi?
While researching Antonelli, I discovered that they seem to no longer exist. Or do they? I happened across new a new Antonelli toy sax that you can buy, and yes, it is still made in Italy. This is how it is described:
Great for the budding musician
Antonelli toy saxophone by Bontempi [emphasis added] has 4 keys that can play 4 different notes
Keys are color coded so children can play songs found on the back of the box
A fun and colorful option to the original silver version
Made in Italy
This toy Antonelli Saxophone by has four keys that can play four different notes. The keys are color coded so children can play songs found on the back of the box. Body is a fun yellow with bright colorful keys for a bright and new spin on the original Jr. version. It is approximately 14″ long and is suitable for little musicians 3 years and up. Everyone at believes that all children must be able to bring the magical world of music, play and learning to their lives with the highest quality products. Music contributes to a child’s total development and allows for children to creatively express themselves. Made in Italy.
Needless to say the mention of Bontempi led me down the rabbit hole of research regarding that brand. Landing on their Wind Instruments page, I further narrowed down my search until I came up with Bontempi’s 5 current saxophone offerings.1
36 3925 Baby Melody Saxophone: Baby Melody Saxophone • 8 Demosongs with arrangement • 8 Demosongs without arrangement • 6 rhythmic accompaniments • Execution of the 8 tracks by blowing in the mouthpiece • 8 musical notes that can be played by pressing the 8 coloured keys and blowing into the mouthpiece • Adjust volume • Connection to a MP3 player (Smartphone, iPod, CD player…), cable not included • Light effects • Power supply: 3 R6/AA 1,5V batteries (not included) • Dim: 95x160x320 mm
32 2832 Mini Sax: Saxophone with 8 coloured keys/notes • L. 280 mm (11”)
32 3931 Saxophone: Saxophone with 4 coloured keys/notes • L. 365 mm (14 5/8”)
32 4331 Saxophone: Saxophone with 8 coloured keys/notes • L. 415 mm (16 5/16”)
32 3902 Saxophone: Saxophone with 4 coloured keys/notes • L. 365 mm (14 5/8”)
It is worth noting that the yellow Antonelli sax shown above, is not one of this, although 32 3931/3902 are pretty much identical, except for the colour.
1 All information from: Bontempi’s website.