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Advice on Vintage Saxophone - John Grey & Sons

Casual Son

New Member
Messages
6
Hi,

I followed a link here this morning from eBay while researching the possible value of a vintage Saxophone that I have.

The story of the Sax is that it was bought by a friend of my father's sometime in the early 70s on Exchange and Mart and arrived without a crook. It was then given to my father as at the time I was learning clarinet and it was thought I might use it one day. It was then in storage in the garage for about 35 years and a couple of years ago I brought it inside and have continued to have it sitting on the shelf waiting to either re-furb or sell. I took up Alto Saxophone about 6 years ago when I joined my band MOJO having not played since our school Tenor was stolen in about 1975.

So, the Sax in question is a Silver John Grey and Sons Alto ( I think ) probably about 1936 at a guess. Mostly good pads and springs with octave key having come off so there is a missing screw but the key is present.

So I don't know if I should be paying for a crook and re-furb, Selling it in an eBay auction for a pound or scrapping it ( although that last option doesn't feel right at all ). Any advise gratefully received. I have photos but I'm not sure if large high res files can be posted here given the file limits on profile pics.

Thanks,

Tim

Well as you can see I got the photos in...


Sax (1)_Web.jpg Sax (3)_Web.jpg
 

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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,949
I'm no expert, but it looks a bit older than you say. I guess it's got a single octave key, so that would put it sometime between the wars, otherwise pre WWI. Lack of rollers and low Bb pushes it closer to WWI, I'd guess early 20s.

I'm guessing it was made by an established maker, sold to a dealer/music shop and engraved with the dealer's name - i.e. it's a stencil. Could have been UK made by Hawkes, could have been continental or even US made. Unless you're lucky and someone recognises it, about the only way you'll identify the maker is to search for pics of early saxes by known makers and compare the details. But be prepared for misidentifications, especially over the web.

This review of a Hawkes and Son may help, note the estimated date of the horn and that it's got rollers: http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Tenor/XX_century_tenor.htm

Saxes without necks tend to be very low in value and getting one made is expensive. You'll be unlikely to find a genuine neck for it, although a modern spare could possibly be altered to fit. There's also the issue of pitch - if it was made to an older pitch standard, even when restored it won't play in tune with other instruments, which further reduces its worth and desirability. Sadly there seems to be little interest in really old saxes at the moment, perhaps it'll change in time. A genuine A Sax alto went for about 550 on ebay UK recently, and a Selmer made tenor for just over 700. You may well find the cost of restoring it exceeds its value in restored condition. I found the same thing aout and old Meindl that I bought last year (but I'm restoring it anyway).

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-Vintage-...t=UK_Woodwind_Instruments&hash=item2561fd80a9
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-Vintage-...t=UK_Woodwind_Instruments&hash=item3f081cc0e7

Best bet would be to discuss it with a good technician (such as Griff or Stephen Howard - both well respected forum members) before deciding what to do. If you want to gamble that saxes, like other antiques, will one day become valuable collectors' items, then it's obviously at your risk. But it'd be a shame to scrap something as old and lovely as this.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
I believe John Grey was just a trade name, bit like Stagg. It appeared on what looked like a banjo I bought in the early sixties. NOT VERY GOOD, the banjo that is.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,983
Tim,

You should ask yourself: Who wants a sax like that? No neck, to low B, no keygaurds, old keysystem ...... . You can't judge the playabilty! But it can be a milestone. Keep it as a proof how crazy the saxophone world was. Your sax is from 1936! Selmer introduced their Balanced Action around that time and Conn already had thier 6M on the market. Players are still using these saxes. You can use these saxes in modern "music-standard".

My oldest sax is from 1923. It's very modern when I compared to John Grey & Sons sax.

Thomas
 

Casual Son

New Member
Messages
6
Thanks for the detailed response. I have to agree that scrapping it just wouldn't be right and although I'm having a declutter at the moment the most likely outcome of all this will probably be an eBay auction. I'll await other responses and a friend has suggested taking it to Johnny Roadhouse, Oxford Road Manchester next time I'm up there.
 
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Casual Son

New Member
Messages
6
I went for 1936 because when I googled the instrument I noted there was a John Grey and Sons Sax in the Edinburgh University collection http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/ubl/ublf2.html so it's intersting that you seem so confident about that. It is the question of the moment " who wants a sax like that?" and I feel ultimately that will be answered by eBay with me willing to sell it for 99p if it comes to it. I will seek further input but I guess the lack of neck will ultimately kill it's usefulness and value. Thanks for the input.
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,949
I went for 1936 because when I googled the instrument I noted there was a John Grey and Sons Sax in the Edinburgh University collection http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/ubl/ublf2.html so it's intersting that you seem so confident about that.

I'm not confident. But there isn't a picture of the university's sax in the link you provided. And like most things, an innovation by one maker was quickly adopted by others, especially in the past.
 
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Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,055
You could always keep it and make a table lamp with it, or hang it on the wall. I keep meaning to visit that museum and I see that they have a Hawkes C melody like mine on their list. When I checked my Hawkes on the vintage sax site I found it to be an Evette & Schaeffer (Buffet)

Jim.
 
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