1915, Col. Conn sold his company to Carl Greenleaf and] by  (2),
Conn was advertising that "the saxophone department
has been quadrupled in size", and the 1918 (3) catalog
references the introduction of a straight soprano in E
flat and a straight soprano in C. This catalog also makes
mention of the Conn Microtuner and the Conn Resopad, both
hailed as significant advances. These horns are referred
to by Conn as "New Wonder" models, Conn saxophones
of this era were seen with both soldered and drawn tone
holes. The drawn tone holes are referenced by a patent
engraved on the body tube [1,119,954
December 8, 1914] which was actually held by
William S. Haynes, the flutemaker, and licensed to Conn.
Rolled tone holes were introduced around [1917,
on the alto], although straight tone holes were
often found [on other pitches] for
a few more years.
The 1922 catalog saw the re-introduction
of the straight B flat soprano and the Conn Vacuum pad,
which was designed to be installed without adhesives. The
straight neck C Melody also made its debut in this year.
During this period, Conn saxophones were often seen with
spectacular engravings, and considerable experimentation
was carried out in manufacturing techniques and design
improvements. Conn was unique among American manufacturers
in that a full time laboratory with a staff of six was
maintained to pursue design improvements.
The Conn design laboratory employed
several designers, principally Allen Loomis; Hugh Loney;
Paul Hardy; Russell Kerr; Edward Gulick; and Leland Greenleaf.
The legendary Santy Runyon also consulted with Conn on
design matters. Loomis was known for his innovative, often
bizzare, designs, many of which were never considered practical
enough to enter production. Gulick might best be remembered
for his design of the locking pivot screw [patents 1345486 and 1567003],
a device which has frustrated repairmen for years.
During this era, Conn began trade-marking
names that designated various models. These included Wonder
(February 1, 1891); New Wonder (May 1, 1917); Pan American
(January 29, 1918); American First (February 5, 1918);
C. G. Conn [Ltd.] (April 2,
1918); and Victor New Wonder (October 15, 1918) (4).
My best research indicates that Conn, Ltd. was continuing to sell the Wonder model horns until 1917, when horns were first produced
with the Haynes tonehole patent, in limited quantities -- and two
years after the purchase of the company by Mr. Greenleaf. I'm also
assuming that these horns might have the Union label on the back
of the horn (above the serial number) and have soldered tone holes. These
horns, however, are engraved "C.G. Conn Ltd." instead
of "C.G. Conn", a definite change from earlier models,
but all horns were transitioned to the New Wonder style (including
rolled tone holes) by 1920 or so.
one can say that the Wonder model was produced until
design is a little bit altered and may have been called
the "New Wonder" model
by this time (3). These
horns are listed on the Wonder page.
other words, the best definition I can come up for for "true" New
Wonder horns is that they must have the Haynes patent
stamped on the back of them and have rolled tone holes.
If these are missing, the horn is a Wonder
- Pearl keys appeared around 1917
- Single octave key
- Rolled tone holes (feature found on all pitches around 1919)
- Standard front F altissimo key on alto and tenor
- Horns are now engraved "C.G. Conn, Ltd.", instead of "C.G. Conn"
G# key. The nail-file G# is a characteristic of the "Series
II" New Wonder horns.
Another reason why these horns were significant is that
they were the first horn stencilled in large quantities
(Buffet's horns are probably the first, but nowhere near
the volume of Conn). A stencil is a horn that was produced
by a major saxophone manufacturer for distribution to a
storefront and that store would literally take a stencil
and put it over the sax's bell and engrave a pattern. There
are dozens of Conn stencil models and they all lack at
least one feature: rolled tone holes. All also have the
Mercedes-Benz-logo-style low C keyguard and the infamous
"Pat'd 1914" date near the serial number (later
revised to patent dates in 1915, 1917 or 1918, for some stencils).
The "Pan American" model is unofficially a stencil:
these were positioned as Conn's "marching band" line,
and actually sold by Conn.
of people write me e-mail to ask my comments on the value
of these horns. I generally say that alto, tenor and C
melody horns aren't worth much, unless they're gold (or
silver and gold) or have elaborate engraving. The reason
is that there were thousands of alto and tenor (both C
and Bb) horns produced.
that that Conn produced HIGH PITCH horns until about 1940.
Modern instruments, except for some instruments used in
concert orchestras in Europe, are LOW PITCH, with A (the
tuning note used in orchestras) =440 hz. Some high pitch
horns from other manufacturers can be used, if you've got
a good ear, because they're tuned to, say, A=442. Conns
are pitched around A=457. In other words, you can't play
a Conn high pitch horn with other instrumentalists because
you'll be seriously out of tune with them! Luckily, Conn
did include the stamp "HP"
or "High Pitch" above the serial number for these
horns that had the odd tuning.
Finishes and Engravings
(odd numbers would indicate high pitch -- e.g. 11M tenor
-- and are not included)(5):
20M Straight Eb Sopranino (they called it an "Eb Soprano")
2M C Soprano
4M Bb Soprano, Curved
18M Bb Soprano, Straight
6M Eb Alto
8M C Melody Tenor
10M Bb Tenor
12M Eb Baritone (low Bb; low A not available until 1955-ish)
14M Bb Bass
Choices (all from a March, 1922 catalog, unless otherwise
- Virtuoso Deluxe (introduced around 1922 for the C melody
and on all models by the end of 1924 ): "Furnished
only on special orders and prices quoted on request." Heavily
gold plated over all, hand burnished over all. Each and
every key inlaid with special choice and carefully selected
pearls. Highest class hand engraving on bell of instrument,
as well as a greater portion of the body, all of which
is a special design and of the highest character. (6)
00 - Artist's Special ("Burnished Gold"(7)): Heavily gold
plated, hand burnished over all, pearl inlaid keys, pearl
rollers, bell richly hand-engraved. Inside of bell, engraving
background, keys, posts and ferrules hand burnished.
- Artist Finish ("Satin Gold"): Heavily gold plated over
all, pearl inlaid keys and rollers, bell richly hand-engraved.
Inside of bell engraving background, keys, posts and ferrules
("Silver & Gold"): Body heavily silver plated, sand blast
velvet finish, bell richly engraved, pearl finger tips, pearl
rollers. Inside of bell, engraving background keys and ferrules
gold-plated and burnished.
("Silver, Gold Bell"): Body heavily silver plated, sand
blast velvet finish, bell richly engraved, inside of bell gold
plated [and] burnished. [E]ngraving background, keys, posts
and ferrules hand burnished. Keys inlaid with pearl and pearl
: Quadruple silver plated over all, sand blast finish;
interior of bell and points hand burnished, finger tips
pearl inlaid, and on saxophones, pearl rollers. On woodwinds
this finish symbol represents heavily silver plated keys,
posts and rods, hand burnished. (Not advertised
in any catalog I have.)(8)
: Highly polished brass throughout, pearl inlaid finger
tips and pearl rollers.
: Gold brass, highly polished, nickel-trimmed. (Not advertised
in any catalog I have.)(8)
: Body heavily nickel plated and highly polished, pearl
inlaid finger tips, pearl rollers.
FINISH was the trade name for a colored enamel finish.
Available colors were red, white, blue, green, Old Rose
("dark pink") and black. This was available as an add-on
for any style of plating for a mere $15 extra, in March
FINISH was the trade name for the CHROME finish, but
with added "beautiful designs on bell or body of flowers,
vines, etc. in various colors" and cost $25 extra, in
March 1922 dollars.
also saw fit to enclose a NOTE: "The Chrome or Poly-Chrome
finish will last according to the care given the instrument.
Should the owner desire to remove the colored finish,
send in the instrument to the factory or obtain
our advice on same. The original finish will not be affected
by the chrome finish after the latter has been removed."
are at least seven
standard engraving styles, that are slightly varied
as this series progresses. There were (allegedly) around
30 engraving patterns for the Finish 00 horns -- and
the engraving on the Finish 000 horns was supposed to
note that there are later relacquered examples
with a lacquer body with silver or nickel
keys. This is NOT original. In the late 1950's, Conn
produced their first horns with a lacquer body and nickel
keys. Conn then continued this finish choice for years.
So, it seems that when some people brought in their old
Conns for refinish work, the repairman would look at
the horn and say: "Relacquer? Yep. All the new ones
have a yellow body and nickle keys ..." not realizing
the variety of plating choices Conn had. I've seen a
couple of horns refurbished by Conn themselves relacquered
it is almost universally thought that lacquer was not
introduced until the 6M "Naked Lady" models,
starting around s/n 260xxx (1934). It seems to have been
a common practice to get old bare-brass horns lacquered
in the 1930's to protect the finish, but this was not
original -- it may have been done by Conn themselves,
but it's aftermarket.
price chart, in 1922 dollars, excepting the 20M and 16V.
Those are in 1927 dollars. (For comparision, the 6M in finish 00 is
$220 in 1927.)
1922 dollar = 10.73 2006 dollars.
(In other words, tack another zero to the end of the price for about what that
horn would have cost today.)
Finish 000 horns, I have been told, generally cost twice as much as a Finish
Eb Contrabass Sarrusophone
offered the Eb contrabass Sarrusophone, model 16V, as their
Eb contrabass saxophone alternative, as did a few other
companies, like Couesnon.
The Sarrusophone has essentially the same keywork as the saxophone,
but the body is tightly curved, lighter (making them easier
for marching) and has a DOUBLE reed, like a bassoon -- although
Conn offered a soprano sax-like mouthpiece as an alternative.
Conn produced about 200 of these horns. There is some debate
as to how long these horns were produced or available: Margaret
Downie Banks puts their production years at 1921 and 1922,
only, and there recently was an eBay sale listing a Conn catalog
that had both the Conn-O-Sax and Sarrusophone for sale -- that'd
make it a production end date of 1928 or 1929.
The earliest production start date is 1917, though. One
thing isn't in dispute: Conn's primary customer for these
horns was the US Army.
enough, Conn advertised that almost all of the finishes
available for the saxophone were available
for the 16V.
I'd love to see one of these in Old Rose enamel.
And, if you can't use your website to help someone out, what is it good for?
SAXTEK, a frequent contributor to this website, has a 16V FOR SALE (Feb. 19. 2007). Here are some details from SAXTEK:
My Sarrusophone is a Conn, one of the ones made for the army. It's a relacquer, comes with original case, original Conn single reed mouthpiece (extremely rare, and works great). I'll include a good contrabassoon reed, and a true sarrusophone double reed, old but good for reed makers to copy. I'll also include a contrabassoon fingering chart - a very old original chart, plus a photocopy.
Click on a picture for a larger version!
If you're interested in buying this beast, please e-mail me at email@example.com and I'll pass on your e-mail to SAXTEK.
1 All text on this Conn
mini-site in MAROON are from
an article on Conn history from Steve
Goodson, who has graciously let me copy, paste and
otherwise shred his article for this website. Items in
brackets ([ ]) are additions to quotes by your humble webmaster.
2 I believe Mr. Goodson is
Banks' page. I have corrected the dates misquoted by
3 1919 is the date that both Dr.
Banks and Mr. Goodson generally for when horns were
first produced with the Haynes tonehole patent. I have
several pictures of pre-s/n 50xxx horns with pearl keys
and the Haynes patent stamped on the back of the horn,
and according to the serial
number chart I use, my earliest pearled alto (s/n
46xxx) translates to 1917/1918, not 1919 (s/n 50xxx). It
is possible that the current serial number charts are
incorrect (see the frontispiece to America's Shrine to
Music Museum's disclaimer).
Thus, it is probable that instruments in this 1918 catalog
were not available until 1919.
models can be found on this 1922 catalog and this 1927 catalog.
ibid., 1927 catalog.
While Conn generally used the numbers to refer to finish,
they also occasionally used the appleations that are in
quotes. You can see these in use in the above-mentioned
1927 catalog. Please also note that "burnished" means "mirror-like"
and "satin" means "frosted" or "matte" when referring to
finish choice is mentioned on the Conn
I believe Finish 3 refers to a silver-plated horn without
the gold wash in the bell. I've not seen Finish 5 on any
New Wonder saxophone.
Galleries (clicking on a link or picture will take you to a
gallery with more pics)