The Buffet Buffet-Powell
These horns were completely designed and patented by Edward V. Powell, son of Verne Powell (the founder of the Powell flute company) and are absolutely glorious pieces of craftsmanship.
I arrived at a date range for these horns by extending the serial number charts into the "serial number black hole". At the very least, I can say that these horns definitely came before the next models, because:
- LH bell-keyed horns are less advanced than RH bell key horns and all manufacturers I've ever seen produced RH bell-keyed horns after their LH bell key-keyed versions, if they had them at all.
- The engraving is more reminiscient of the Evette & Schaeffer System horns than the "SA" models.
- The patents for this horn tend to support the date range I've assigned to these horns.
- According to a letter in Paul Cohen's Vintage Saxophones Revisited column in the Nov./Dec. 1990 Saxophone Journal magazine, Buffet stopped using this patent right before WWII and summarily sold it to Conn.
I have no exact idea when the production on these models stopped. I'm just assuming that they were produced up until the next Buffet model, which has RH bell keys. I can say that they only appear to have been produced in alto and tenor pitches: definitely not bass, based on the above article and the existence of basses using earlier tooling, but there may be a soprano hiding out there somewhere.
"[These models have] four octave key vents -- two on the sides of the neck, if you look carefully [and two on the body]. I fixed a tenor like this once for a penniless guitar playing friend. It had 60 year old pads, and he had no money so I kind of got it back together like a student model horn -- and it played! That's the sign that the dimensions of the design are good, because there were still a lot of leaks."1
This mechanism looks so much like the new Selmer Harmonic models, one wonders if Selmer copied the design from Buffet.