This is a rare and beautiful Conn 26M “Connqueror” alto saxophone, from one of the last pre-war batches, with the “VIII” stamp on both the body and the neck. This saxophone sports what is arguably the finest craftsmanship of any model of saxophone ever made, with sterling silver key touches on the Eb/C cluster, the side F#, the side Bb-C-E keys, and the palm keys. The mechanism is complex but extremely well thought-out, and a meticulous and thoughtful repairer can overhaul these so that they last for a decade or more per overhaul with only minor adjustments to the perma-just feet over time- just as Conn intended. These saxophones are also beautiful, with a particularly elaborate version of the famous “naked lady” found on Conn 6M/10M saxophones on the bell.
This particular instrument is in extremely good condition with original finish. The engraving, which is very detailed and is particularly dense, is a good indicator of how much use these saxophones have seen, with the lacquer around the cuts tending to be the first to wear on the saxophone. The lacquer around the engraving on this saxophone is fully intact, which combined with only light evidence of playing wear elsewhere on the horn- such as small bit of lacquer wear near the thumbrest about the size of a pea, and some small scratches here and there- leads me to believe this saxophone was played for at least a few years by a meticulous and caring owner. The neck is in excellent condition, showing no evidence of past repair or pulldown.
The rollers are fully intact and in perfect condition, and the pearls and sterling silver touchpieces are largely unworn. The keys are tight and the horn plays well on what seems to be an older repad, though the it looks to have been played little and/or taken very good care of since the repad. The neck and body are both marked with the VIII stamp, which is viewed as the most desirable of the pre-war M series saxophones, although theories vary widely as to what exactly the VIII stamp means, the most popular of which being that the neck had a slightly different taper that intonates better. The microtuner on the is fully functional, leak-free, and smooth. The body shows so evidence of past damage or major repairs/resolders of any kind.
All in all, this is a beautiful and rare saxophone in uncommonly fine condition, with a unique mechanism and design that took extreme skill to manufacture- skill that only really existed for a short time, at Conn in the 1930s. They didn’t make many of these, and there probably won’t be anything like them ever made again.