Conns from the 1920’s like this have an enthusiastic following these days. I’m told that it’s now more common to see a tenor player in NYC playing a Conn than a Selmer, which is hard to believe if true. I have definitely noticed a large and growing amount of interest and enthusiasm for Conns like this over the last 5 years at least.
The way I think about vintage Conn tenors is this. They are all built quite well, and they are all good players once you get them all fixed up and overhauled. So if you have the choice, and budget allows, you might as well buy the nicest one you can to fix up. This is for a couple of reasons. First, resale value will always be better the more beautiful the horn is, and the rarer the finish. Second, you get to experience the satisfaction, even joy, of owning such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship from the world’s greatest musical instrument factory of the 20’s and 30’s, which is undoubtedly Conn. Conn set the standard for musical instrument manufacturing during that time. Its designs were copied by all the other makers, from France to Germany, Italy, and even eventually Japan. They are still being copied today in fact!
If your goal is to get the best, most beautiful, rarest Conn that you can, it would be hard to do better than this beautiful burnished gold Conn New Wonder 1 ‘Chu Berry’ tenor saxophone from 1924. The finish is a bit tarnished at present, because I haven’t had time to get it disassembled, cleaned, and polished yet, but there’s a lot of original gold plate there, and not a whole lot of finish wear. The burnished (bright) gold Conns like this are incredibly rare. Much rarer than the satin gold examples, which are themselves very rare. The engraving is striking. Each burnished gold Conn had the option for a custom portrait. I wonder whose sweetheart this is! Some stylish flapper 20’s lady in any case. This would almost definitely have been pro-owned by the tenor player from a big band. I got the horn from Ohio, if there’s anyone who can connect the dots at all. I have never seen any other Conn tenor with engraving like this, so it has some historical value as well, to me at least.
This tenor comes in pretty good playing condition. It was tuned up before I got it, and I’ll probably spend some more money on pad work before I sell it. It also includes a nice Hiscox case with my favorite, the red interior, which is no longer offered. Much better than the blue for a gold saxophone.
Just for fun, here’s Lester Young on his New Wonder 1 tenor just like this one, also gold plated. The wide, lush, spread, medium dark tone is just gorgeous.