Maison SELMER

History Notes #03: Curved Soprano saxophone

History Notes #03 : Saxophone soprano courbe
After looking at the case of the C soprano, specialist Douglas Pipher sheds light on another rare instrument produced by Maison SELMER: the curved soprano saxophone.


"Today, we're going to talk about selmer production of the Curved Soprano saxophone. These are another of the very are production types. They were built mostly pre-war, almost exclusively pre-war.

The Curved Sopranos was first built in the Series 1922 production. The earliest example I have seen is in the 900 serial range. So it's one of the first couple hundred of instruments built. I have photos of about 10 of them in this range, and they indicate at least 10 production batches.

Curved soprano Selmer Model 22

It appears before the archives start, the archive records start at serial number 5,000, there were at least 60 curved Sopranos built. Now, the curve Sopranos had a range to only high E-flat, very much like the Model 22 straight Sopranos.

Once the archives started at serial number 5,000, it becomes easier to track the production. Production of curve Sopranos, like other rare types, was mostly in batches of six. But there were a few examples of batches of 12 and one of 18. It appears that total production in the 5,000 to 57,000 serial range is about 75 units maximum.

Combining total, total production appears to be around 135 curved Sopranos. Now, that's how many could have been built. It doesn't mean they were all actually finished and shipped. In addition, the vast majority were shipped to Europe. Now, these were sold before World War II, and we can only imagine how many may have been destroyed during the devastation that was World War II.

So how many curve Sopranos exist today? I have photos of 33 of them, so we know there's that many. I suspect that there's more that will come to light, but we'll have to see. One just came to light a couple of weeks ago. So every month or two or three, another one seems to come to light I'm guessing that there probably are potentially 50-60 Curved Sopranos in existence today.

Sorpano curved SELMER

There was a development in the Curved Sopranos. All Curved Sopranos, even including the 57K range, still had the keys on the left-hand side. But the 57K production batch, the last production batch, featured a range to high F. his was different from the pre-war Curved Sopranos. Now, there are a couple rare niches within this very rare type. The first would be in the 8000 serial range, there was a batch of six produced, two of them, and possibly more, feature some of the optional keys. They feature the fork E-flat key and the G-sharp right-hand trill key. So to my knowledge, there are only two examples and possibly as many as six with this feature.

Another rare type is that three f the Selmer Curved Sopranos were actually penciled as Adolphe Sax models. This would have been after the purchase of Adolphe Sax in 1929, and they were likely sold to Selmer UK, where the bulk of the Adolf Sax production went. There are two of them listed in the archives, but I actually have seen a third one. There are apparently up to three Adolphe Curved Sopranos. They are full Selmer production. They're simply stamped as an Adolphe.

SELMER curved soprano saxophones

Now, where were these Curved Sopranos sold? Interestingly, they were mostly sold in Europe. There were three sold to Venezuela and one sold to Canada. None are listed as being sold to the US market.

There are certainly more curved Sopranos out there. So if anyone sees one or owns one or knows where one is, please get in touch with me. I'd love to have some photos of it. Every photo and every existing example has the ability to shed lots of new light on the Curved Sopranos production."

 

 

See all episodes on YouTube
Listen to History Notes podcast