The Beauty of Saxophones: Fully Engraved 1932 Selmer “Cigar Cutter” Alto Saxophone
I am lucky enough to work with and see many beautiful and rare saxophones, and these days it takes something rather special to make my jaw truly drop. This past week, completely unexpectedly, a saxophone came through my shop which is about as rare and as beautiful as any saxophone out there, and I am extremely happy to share it with you: a one-of-a-kind 1932 Selmer Super Sax of the “Cigar Cutter” variety, fully engraved from the neck cork to the bell rim, including every single pad cup (yes, even the octave pad cups) and the post feet.
The gentleman who is lucky enough to play this saxophone (extremely well, I might add) is the third owner, and according to him the saxophone was custom-made to be given as a gift to a special Selmer customer.
Comparing the engraving to similar motifs found on Conn and King saxophones of the previous decade, it looks as if Selmer Paris’s USA arm in Elkhart (which is vastly different from today’s Conn-Selmer USA) brought in an engraver from Conn to turn this saxophone into the beautiful work of art it is now, and the horn was disassembled in order to do the work. The nude portrait as well as the patterns on the keys (see Conn key engraving patterns here) are extremely similar to earlier Conn work, most notably the fully engraved “Virtuoso Deluxe” finish option. However, unlike the Conn “Virtuso Deluxe” models with similar full engraving, this saxophone appears to be a one-off, and to my knowledge (and the knowledge of several other saxophone experts) this may be the only one of its kind. In fact, even Selmer Paris is aware of this saxophone, and has asked the owner if they can acquire it for their museum in Paris! However, this saxophone is not for sale.
One last note: I took these photos and the video without prior notice, no preparation, several people in the room including my 8 month-old son who was miraculously mostly quiet for the video. I apologize for the quality, but I figured it was better to share imperfect photos than let this one slip by.
You can click on the video to change the settings to watch it in 720p, and all photos are clickable to be viewed in their original 4000×3000 resolution.
So without further ado, feast your eyes upon this rare and beautiful example of craftsmanship and artistry from a bygone era.
Bonus! Again thanks to David W., we have a video of this horn doing what it does best- playing! With the Dick Cully Big Band back in the 80s.