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Selmer Dorsey Alto – Super Rare Silver Plate! Holy Grail

Once in a lifetime find – Silver Selmer Dorsey Alto! The ultimate collectible and playable Selmer. Add a good overhaul through me if you want to.

We pay the best prices for great saxophones.




The Selmer Dorsey Alto is a very very special and rare Selmer that was played by Jimmy Dorsey and his band, and sold in very limited numbers outside of the Dorsey orchestra. The total number made is super low. (Lower than you may think!)

I have chased these very few horns all over the globe, from Paris, to Japan, to various closets of collectors in the USA, and have been fortunate enough to own four of them (SN 28605, 28608, 28659, 28669). Of the Dorseys produced, almost all were lacquered. This is the sole surviving silver plated wartime Dorsey that there is any evidence of existing. As such, it’s the rarest of the rare for the Selmer collector. As a quick note, if you are reading about the Selmer Dorsey Model, you’ll want to distinguish true Dorsey models from late Radio Improved Selmers. The true Dorsey model differs from this in having an SSS stamped bell (only), not a bell stamped ‘Radio Improved’ among other differences. Most Dorsey models were sold between April 1938 and Feb 1939. And they are almost all 28k serials, with only a few exceptions. This one was shipped shipped on May 11, 1943, and is one of the only wartime Dorsey altos made.

So why did Jimmy Dorsey want his special Selmer made like this, with a hybrid of Radio Improved / Super Sax / Balanced Action features? It’s impossible to know for sure, but from playing these, I can say that they are truly EXCEPTIONAL players. One of the best altos I have ever played was Selmer Dorsey Alto 28669, after Matt Stohrer got done overhauling it. I’m sure Matt remembers it as well. It’s just one of those horns that makes you flip out and go “wow, I didn’t know the alto could sound like that.” The tone is sweet, warm, and instantly present. The keywork feels very snappy and fast, with the left side bell key direct action. The tuning is very good too. But it’s mainly the tone. That one sold for a high price and I am still missing it. These horns just have some extra special magic.

This horn is in very good original condition, and the only past repair is a spot on the bell where I had the silver plate touched up. The horn had a scrape there on the bell, and I had it touched up in Paris, believe it or not, so that the silver plate would have a good chance of matching. (For some reason, silver plate in the USA is whiter, where it is bluer in France.) It is in original condition now with old, possibly original pads and original case. If you want to get it overhauled, I’m sure we could convince Matt Stohrer to do the work, and I could give you one of my reserved spots in his overhaul queue. It would be likely to be just as great as the one that Matt did a few years ago.

This is a one-time-only opportunity. These horns never come up for sale. The only reason I’m offering it here temporarily is that we are buying a first home, and I need to sell a few of my treasures to fund a down payment! Once the money is enough, this goes back in my collection if nobody takes it first.

The sale also includes a premium BAM Softpack Alto case, which is the most protective case for a Dorsey for shipping. You also get the original case of course.

Only one available!

We pay the best prices for great saxophones.


Additional information

Weight 18 lbs
Dimensions 26 × 14 × 8 in


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