This is a beautiful and rare example of one of my favorite saxophones, the SML Coleman Hawkins Special model tenor saxophone. The Coleman Hawkins Special is a rare bird indeed. I watch for them, and I have only seen or heard of around ten of these existing, including alto and tenor. This is the latest example I have seen of this model, and it is the only one I have seen that has the more modern left hand pinky spatula keys like the later SMLs, which is an improvement ergonomically. In the (later, internet) nomenclature, this would be a Rev C SML, so it has some but not all of the features that would be on a Rev D/ Gold Medal 1.
All of the Coleman Hawkins horns are silver plated. The engraving on this one is fainter than the earlier serial Hawkins tenors that I have seen. The SML saxophone collector in France who sold this to me swears that it’s original silver plate, and that the fainter engraving is because it is a one-off late example. I think probably the bell at least has been replated. With so few examples out there to go from, it’s hard to know 100% for sure, but in any case, I’m pricing it lower than I would otherwise.
Pad wise, this currently has a mix of pads, and while they seal ok, it would be best with an overhaul. I can get that done as part of a deal if you like, or you can have your own saxophone repairman or woman do it. Besides the rarity, the main reason to get this horn is the tone. Early SML tenors were french saxophones inspired by Conn saxophones, so they have a very special Selmer/Conn hybrid tone. This tenor is very very loud, when you want it to be. It goes to 11, or even higher, honestly. It’s pretty crazy. But the tone stays dark, centered, and fat. The palm keys are very noticeably fully and rich, which makes the overall tone of the horn just gorgeous. The low register is extremely wide– operatic and really resonant.
If you like rarity, beauty, and exceptional tone in one horn, this would be a great pick. Only one available!