1950 Selmer Alto Saxophone
Appraised Value: $7,000 - $9,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:10)
Director, Fine Musical Instruments
GUEST: It was my father-in-law's, and he treasured it. He wasn't really a musician, but he liked to play as a hobby. He had bought it locally, I believe Brockton, in the '50s, but he had said it was from France originally. At some point in the late '80s, he wanted to have it all refurbished and redone to shine it up so he could start playing it again. But the local place he brought it to, they thought there was something special about it, so they really suggested he didn't start doing a lot to it. And he took their advice. He had left it to me in his will, and I treasure it for that reason. I would never sell it, but I'd really like to know what it's worth.
APPRAISER: It's made by the Selmer Company. And they began in 1885 just outside Paris, and they're still there.
APPRAISER: There are different sizes of horns. They range from the baritone, which is the large one, to the tenor, alto and soprano. This is an alto sax. So it's a little bit of a high range instrument, but it's still got enough heft on it to have a throaty sound. And it's one of the two major saxophones used in jazz, which are the alto and the tenor. And of all the saxophones that have ever been made, the Selmer by far are the most desirable.
APPRAISER: And this one happens to be called the Super Balanced Action model. And it's considered second only to the Mark Six, which came out later. But most of the major American alto saxophone players have used this horn. Paul Desmond played his immortal solo on "Take Five" with Dave Brubeck on a Selmer alto saxophone.
GUEST: You're kidding.
APPRAISER: No, no kidding. This one happens to be in fabulous shape. Even the original case is in beautiful condition.
GUEST: It sure is.
APPRAISER: There are a couple of things that are very special about this horn, and one of them is that it has extra engraving on it. And the engraving was probably done here in America once it arrived. You can see the level of work that was done on this that continues all the way down to the bottom of the bell. And in addition to the engraving, they might have added these cut gemstones that look like little diamonds.
GUEST: Isn't that...
APPRAISER: that's got some pretty nice bling for a saxophone, right?
GUEST: I was thinking the same thing, right.
APPRAISER: As we turn the horn around, this is what everybody looks for when they're looking at Selmer horns, and that's the all-important serial number. Anything with a five-digit serial number is considered to be from the golden age of saxophones, which was the Selmer sax from about 1950 to 1960.
APPRAISER: Any idea as to the value of it?
GUEST: I would have been conservative and guessed a couple of thousand dollars.
APPRAISER: I'm going to say in a retail context or replacement value it would be between $7,000 and $9,000.
APPRAISER: Not only just because of what it is, but because of the fantastic condition.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.