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The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian clarinet and flute player, around 1841. Sax wanted to improve the tone of the bass clarinet and the result of his efforts was a C-bass saxophone constructed of metal with a single reed. Sax showed his creation to composer Hector Berlioz who published an article about the saxophone in 1842 and featured it in one of his compositions in 1844 in Paris. Adolphe Sax obtained patents for 14 variations of his saxophone in 1846. Some jealous competitors protested his patents and stole his designs or filed lawsuits against his company. When his patents expired, other instrument makers copied the designs and made their own variations.

Sax continued to make improvements to saxophones throughout the rest of the 1800s. He died in 1894 and his son Adolphe Edouard Sax took over his father's saxophone business. In 1928, the Sax Company was sold to the Henri Selmer Company. Since their invention, saxophones have become staple instruments in concert bands, jazz bands, and rock and roll bands.

Collectors who wish to acquire vintage saxophones should look for instruments in excellent playing condition with original finish and cases and no modifications from the original design. Restorations can lower the value of a vintage saxophone by as much as 25%.

Quick Facts

  • The saxophone became vilified shortly after its introduction as proper Victorian society considered the instrument to be too sensual in nature. Pope Pius X wrote a screed against the saxophone in 1903, banning it from religious music
  • In 1954, the Selmer company introduced the Mark VI saxophone, considered by musicians to be Selmer's best saxophone ever made. The value of Mark VI saxophones ranges from $3,000 for a sopranino to $7,200 for a low-A baritone
  • Jazz great Charlie Parker played a Conn 6M saxophone for most of his career. His widow sold the instrument at auction in 2005 for $261,750

Recommended Items at Auction

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Alto saxophone, Selmer Bundy II (
Nov 05, 10:00 AM CET
Alto saxophone, Selmer Bundy II (
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1001 Bid
saxophone, Buffet Crampon, Paris, before 1900,Model Evette
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
saxophone, Buffet Crampon, Paris, before 1900,Model Evette
by Henry's Auktionshaus AG
Est: €150- €220
€1200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Saxophones

Henry's Auktionshaus AG

Henry's Auktionshaus AG

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus