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NMM 7457. Bass saxophone in B-flat by Adolphe Sax, Paris, 1877

NMM 7457. Bass saxophone by Adolphe Sax, Paris, 1877

One of four documented Adolphe Sax basses known to survive, this notable acquisition brings to ten the number of original Adolphe Sax saxophones in the NMM's collections. Five, including an alto sax made in 1860, came with the Cecil B. Leeson Collection, transferred to the NMM in 1994 from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The only other bass saxophone by Sax on view in a public institution is at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

This bass saxophone is of particular interest, since it is stamped with a special Adolphe Sax monogram and number. The monogram indicates that the instrument was once part of the inventor's own personal collection, according to the noted Sax scholar, Malou Haine.

Since the other surviving bass saxophones have closely related serial numbers, can all be dated about 1868, and are all of brass, it may be that the NMM's example was the first Sax bass to be silver-plated; hence, its inclusion in the maker's personal collection.


Note: Click on any image below to see a larger image

NMM 7457. Bass saxophone in B-flat by Adolphe Sax, Paris, 1877. Serial number 39789. Engraved, vertically, on right side of bell: [C V monogram] (script) No 39789 / Saxophone Basse en Si b. / Adolphe Sax Fr Brev / 50, rue St Georges / [stamped, upside down, within this textual engraving: I / A S 801] à Paris / SEUL / GRAND PRIX / [1867] / [AS monogram]. One-piece body with separate, removable neck. Silver-plated. Fingered range: low B-natural to high E-flat. Dual octave keys. No touchpieces or rollers on E-flat, low C, G-sharp, low C-sharp, or low B keys. Height: 1150 mm. Bell diameter: 197 mm. Board of Trustees, 1999.

Back of bass saxophone by Adolphe Sax, Paris, 1877

Views of Keys

Upper keys on front of sax
Upper keys on back of sax
Lower keywork

Upper keywork
front view

Upper keywork
back view

Lower keywork

Literature:  Margaret Downie Banks, "A Rare Bass Saxophone by Adolphe Sax," America’s Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter 27, No. 4 (November 2000), p. 5.

Margaret Downie Banks, "The Bass Saxophone by Adolphe Sax," The South Dakota Musician 35, No. 3 (Spring 2001), cover and p. 24.

Robert S. Howe, "The Invention and Early Development of the Saxophone, 1840-1855," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 29 (2003), p. 177.

Go to Checklist of Saxophones Made by Adolphe (Antoine-Joseph) and Adolphe Edouard Sax

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