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    Default Holton Saxophone; Serial number registry

    It's been pointed out by a few people here, including Bruce Bailey, that Holton sax serial number lists on the internet are not correct. It sure would be nice to have an accurate list. To help this problem, I'm starting this registry.

    Everyone please list the number on your horn and specifically what the features are. In the future, it might be possible to make a better list of serial numbers from what we do here. I'll start out with my C-melody, some serials from this board and then some pertinent quotes from others.


    #22051
    "Frank Holton, Elkhorn, Wis."
    Silver plate, C-melody with lots of extra keys including front F. Has opposing bell keys (butterfly style)
    I'm guessing it's between 1925-1929.

    #27422
    "silver plate alto with 'extra' keys."

    #118552 "made in 1935 (?) Frank Holton & Co. tenor sax that has - made by Revelation.. above the Holton name.

    [by the way, if any of you have an original sales receipt in the sax case, please list the date of sale]

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernards20040
    Holton… satin gold plated tenor with polished gold plated keys and polished inside the bell serial No 89XX so i'm guessing pretty early. It has no engraving apart from frank Holton etc (nothing ornate)
    it has soldered but not bevelled tone holes,
    has the extra C# and G trill keys (i think thats right.)
    Sax_Pete: "Frank Holton soprano serial 39xxx"

    Bruce Baily: "Handcraft clone #37xxx and every bit as good as a real Martin"

    "holton baritone sax, silvered, serial #14xxx"

    TenTenTooter: "The tenor has soldered tone holes, Eb fork fingering, G# trill, high D trill, serial number either 11xx or 11xxx."

    beboplawyer: "Holton model 241 Tenor from 1948 (?) Serial 195***"

    hafuch: "I've been playing a silver-plated Holton tenor model 243 (sn 277xxx) from 1955 (?), and I have rarely played its equal."

    fredj608: "Soprano. it's nickel-plated and the main part, not the keys and action, is sandblasted. Made by Frank Holton and Co, Elkhorn Wis engraved on the bell-front, and "Bb 18782" and the letters L P widely spaced on the bell-back."

    tommyr: "I have been playing an old Holton since at least 1975. It has withstood many bumps on the way. It has a better tone than any other soprano I have tried.It has the high F key . Many question the year, and I have no idea other than a sreial # of 32560."


    Quote Originally Posted by bruce bailey
    I have never found an accurate Holton list. I have a Holton Alto that is a Martin stencil that would be from 1917 according to most lists but it has the tone hole style that Martin started using in 1923 and the G# lever that Lyon & Healy (another Martin stencil) started in around 1927. Bottom line, compare some features to determine the year like front F, etc. Remember that opposing bell keys disappeared around the early 30s. Also the Rudy Weidoft models have LH bell keys and most numbers fall in the teens from lists I have seen.
    Quote Originally Posted by blackfrancis
    Serial number charts indicate my horn was built in 1912.(They all look like they're quoting the same source.) My bell says "Frank Holton Elkhorn Wisconsin". Reliable information has it that Holton moved to Elkhorn in 1918. …how do we account for the bell engraving that, if made in 1912, should read Chicago?
    Quote Originally Posted by Farina_man
    I have 2 Weidoeft altos which date to 1916/1917 on all the lists I have seen. My Holton Tenor dates to 1912 and my baritone to 1915. However, I recently got an original Holton brochure which describes the "New" Rudy Weidoeft Holtons in detail (extra keys and all!) and quite clearly dates them to the late 1920's - which goes with the LH bell keys, too. A bit mysterious.
    Incidentally, all my Holtons are inscribed "Elkhorn, Wis." although (supposedly) dating to before 1918.
    As to the way they play - I reckon the ordinary Holtons play better than the RW which has a very slow/clumsy G#. My tenor, although not in brilliant cosmetic condition, plays well in tune with a warm vintage sound. The angle of the crook is uncomfortable, though. Another good point about Holtons is that they very often have a front high F key.
    Quote Originally Posted by paulwl
    The Wiedoeft models started to appear in the late 20s but didn't do terribly well in the market. Holtons had had many of the same special features for years previously. (Some horns had the) "Master Key" features (alternate trill keys), and the venting or speaker key down by low C. I'm not sure what was added to the Wiedoeft models; maybe someone else can chip in there.
    Ahh "Master Key"- now i know what to call them!
    Quote Originally Posted by paulwl
    Wasn't Beaufort a student line, like Collegiate later on? I had thought the pro line before the Rudys was called Revelation. In any case, a lot of pre-Rudys are just marked Frank Holton & Co. / [location, see below].

    I recently saw a tenor in NYC similar to the above, but without the speaker key, and engraved Chicago instead of Elkhorn, Wis. as most Holtons were. (Chicago marking would date it pre-1917, Elkhorn, post-1917.)
    Quote Originally Posted by bruce bailey
    Some [Holton saxes] are great, others not great. I have found that they tended to have models made by them (the ones with the added C# trill and clarinet style front F) and some made by others. I had an alto that was a Courturier stencil that was like a Lyon & Healy with Martin style tone holes. What I DO know is that the serial number lists are way off. Mine was from around 1928 but the serial number came back as a 1917 horn. Go by style and features not by the numbers. The made a lot of gold plated ones and some of the gold plated sopranos are really nice. I have seen several in C.
    Last edited by soybean; 02-24-2008 at 07:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holton geauxsax's Avatar
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    Mine is matte-finish silverplate Tenor "Elkhorn" (not Rudy Wiedoeft), sn 384XX with opposing bell keys, high f (but not with alternate fingering mechanism on front), soldered but not beveled tone holes, pearl-button G sharp, straight bell brace, and straight brace on underside of neck. Also has gold-wash inside bell. Very similar but not exactly like Silver Elkhorn Tenor on Saxpics.

    Update: Took this baby in for full overhaul today (15 Nov), will get back at around New Years. I'll let everyone know how it plays when I get it back. Also, this is a pretty stoutly built axe. . .thick metal, and noticibly heavier than a Conn Chu Tenor I checked out while at the shop. The Chu's keywork (tuned and lubed up properly however, compared to the "in-the-attic for several decades" state of my Holton) made the Holton feel like a dinosaur to me though. . .still, the technician seemed pretty optimistic about the Holton, so I'm excited about future results!
    Last edited by geauxsax; 04-29-2008 at 09:07 PM.

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    Thanks for adding that. I didn't know Holton beveled their tone-holes but maybe those would be on the stencils Martin made for Holton.

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    The Holton Alto I had was likely made by Courturier which was bought by L&H around 1928. The Holton was identical to the L&H horns made in the 1928-? era. That would put my 37,xxx Holton as being in the 1928-29 region. Another thing that makes the Holton published lists inaccurate is that the Rudy horns tend to have teens serial numbers but the construction looks late 20s. I bought a Rudy yesterday and will post back when I figure out a year. I think the stencils with beveled soldered tone holes were either Courturier or IBIco. horns and not Martin.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008 ianhart's Avatar
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    Add mine (ok, my school's) to the mix-
    1917 (maybe not, apparently) Holton Elkhorn Bari, nickel plated, C-D trill, G# trill, pearl G#, front altissimo F, Eb trill, soldered on tone holes, opposed bell keys, and says "low pitch" under the serial number.

    S/N 27XXX

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    found this online: Holton C Melody #6407: Satin silver plate with gold plate inside bell. Has name professionally engraved inside bell. Standard low pitch with extra right hand G# key and alternate D key, and forked Eb key.

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    From Junkdude: "Holton C-Soprano Saxophone is keyed to high F. It is very hard to find a C-Soprano keyed to high F...this is our first. This model also features: forked Eb and pearl rollers.Serial number 19565. My best guess is this is from the mid-1920s."

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    Holton Bb soprano, keyed to high F. Alt. G# & D keys. Bell reads Frank Holton Elkhorn, Wis. S/N 31576- I'd guess mid to late '20s. (A great horn that I've played for 37 years.)

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008 Mope's Avatar
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    137xxx Collegiate 1940?
    Last edited by Mope; 12-20-2007 at 05:02 AM.
    The worst-case scenario here is worse than anything you can imagine.

  10. #10

    Default holton

    just get a nice mark Vi

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holton geauxsax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giancarlo
    just get a nice mark Vi

    Thanks for the tip.
    Last edited by geauxsax; 11-18-2007 at 01:13 AM.

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    I can safely say that 38,000 would be about 1928 based on the one I had. As I mentioned over at the C Melody site, Holton appears to have seperate serial numbers for woodwinds or at least saxes. Similar to the Conn lists.

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holton geauxsax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce bailey
    I can safely say that 38,000 would be about 1928 based on the one I had.

    Thanks Bruce--that seems a lot more plausable to me than the 1917 the list showed, just looking at the case and comparing it to my '27 Buescher True Tone.
    Last edited by geauxsax; 04-29-2008 at 09:05 PM.

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    Default More Holton history from Jazzbug1, early horns, Wiedoeft

    These quotes are from Jazzbug1.

    "Just won off Ebay a Rudy model Bb soprano, with a serial # in the 30000 series, which puts it in the 1928-29 time of birth, according to my estimates. The later Holtons (about 1925 and later) were very nice horns: in tune, extra good plating and a brilliant tone. This quality kept up until after the war, when, to my knowledge, they stopped making professional grade saxophones."

    "The Wiedoeft models came out in late 1928, and the earliest I have seen (a transition model) is serial #26643. Furthermore, I have a letter from the Holton Co. stating that my C soprano, #18319, left the factory in 1922. Check your soprano serial # and you should be able to approximate it based on these set dates. Wiedoeft played Conns and Selmers. My teacher studied under him. I have a Selmer catalog showing Rudy with Henri Selmer in the late 20s. He endorses the Selmer horns. Many of his songs show him with a straight neck C Melody, which I assume is a Conn."


    Jazzbug1 Nov 15: "I have a letter sent to me in 1962 from the Holton factory that their saxophone #19xxx was built in 1922. They even gave me the month, but the letter is buried in my over 100 years of archives. Furthermore, I have a company catalog from 1928 showing the first Wiedoeft models came out in the spring of 1928. My early (transitional) Wiedoeft C Melody is #27,000. The bulk of the Holton C Melodys I have seen in person or on Ebay run from #12,000--30,000, which puts them in the 1920s (the age of the C Melody).

    These ages (online) I see for Holton saxophones all advertise "1909, 1915", etc. I'm not sure Holton was building saxophones this early, so all the evidence points to the fact that the website Holton serial #s for saxophones are off by over a decade, at least when applied to the 1920s. It's quite possible that since Holton was primarily a brass instrument maker, and got into saxophones only on a large scale by about 1920, as did other smaller companies, that the saxophone serial #s may follow a different lineage than the brass, hence the odd gaps and jumps in the above list. I see Ebay ads for "Rudy Wiedoeft model, 1915". Rudy was still an unknown at this time and did not become famous until his recording of "Saxophobia" for Victor in 1922. The Wiedoeft models run from 27,000 up to around 37,000. When the economic boom ended in late 1929, Holton was near bankruptcy, and failed to pay Rudy anything for using his name on their horn, which was a Holton design Rudy had nothing to do with. The only features on the Rudy model that were not on the regular Holtons were the corkless mouthpiece slide and the low C breather key with the large cage. By the late 20s, Holton made a saxophone I personally prefer over the Conn for its brightness. The ergonomics are good for the day and the gold plated models are not uncommon. The only disapointment is that they did not offer a deluxe engraving option, as most other companies did. The early 1920s models did have intonation problems sometimes, which gave Holton a bad name and a low re-sale price, but the later 20s-30s produced fine horns. Try one. You'll like it!"


    **Check this one out! Finally, some actual documented serial numbers with exact dates from the Holton company.

    Jazzbug1 Nov 15: "Soybean- Thanks for stimulating me to go through my scrapbooks and letters from the past 45 years of music. It was fun and brought back many memories and friendships. I found some exact information which confirms my suspicion about the published Holton #s. To quote Senator McCarthy, "I have in my hand a letter which will incriminate the Holton serial numbers." In 1966, I received a letter from Tom Smith, who worked for Holton. He gave me two exact dates for two horns. One was a C soprano sax, #18319, which was shipped out of the factory on 11-18-1924. The other instrument was my friend's Holton cornet, #63323, which was shipped on 3-2-1928. My Wiedoeft is among the first, and it is #26648. The Wiedoeft literature I have, brochure "Birds of a Feather", introduces the horn in 1928. This all makes sense with the output of Holton saxophones in the 20s. Since the # for the cornet doesn't match the list, I suspect the list could be wrong for the 1920s as it is incorrect for a saxophone and a cornet, at least. The majority of the Wiedoefts I have seen range in the low 30,000s, which makes sense, as that would approximately correspond to 1929-30. Please feel free to use my information as you wish. Holton serial #s are quite a mystery, but using a little extrapolation, my numbers can help, assuming Holton sax production was minimal in 1919 and gradually maxed by 1929. Your 22051 might be around 1925. Since Holton was primarily a brass instrument maker, they still could have easily built 20,000 saxophones between the documented 1924 C soprano and the Wiedoefts of say 1929-30.

    I have a Wiedoft alto (Gold) at #35418, a Wiedoeft Bb soprano (silver) at #34995, and the aformentioned C Melody, which is silver with gold keys. I have a Wiedoeft model brochure which lists finishes and prices. When looking at factory outputs, one must realize that within six months of the October, 1929 crash, factories were at a fraction of their 1929 rates of production, so it makes sense that the Wiedoeft models and their serial #s cover the span of 1928-30, with production dropping very quickly by mid-1930.

    The only luxury the middle class American family bought in the early depression were radios. Instrument sales plummeted, and so did the C Melody. Radios sold so well that half the furniture built in the 1930s was radio cabinets. People put up with second hand furniture, but had to have that radio. Too bad they didn't feel the need for C Melody saxophones any more, as it would have developed with the other horns."


    Bruce Bailey wrote this reply:
    "I think that the Holton numbers are like the Conns. They have 2 seperate lists for woodwinds and brass. I had a Holton Alto that was identical to my L&H Courturier models with the LH G#/C# key shaped like an "L" which opened both pads together. This was the style of my 200,000 series L&H which I confirmed (from someone's bill of sale) to be 1928-30. The Holton was 37,xxx so I will guess it was made about 1928ish which would be consistant with Jazzbug's Wiedolft list. I am waiting on a Rudy I won on ebay that is 35,xxx."


    **So after all this evidence, it's obvious that the online serial numbers for Holton saxes is wrong and should not be used. It's also pretty evident that the published lists are for brass instruments such as trumpets & trombones.

    ~

  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holton geauxsax's Avatar
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    Great info--Now we're getting somewhere!
    Last edited by geauxsax; 04-29-2008 at 09:05 PM.

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    Who is going to tell Lars Kirmser???

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    I'm not sure who Lars is, but if he's the person who puts these serial number lists together, I'll be happy to contact him.

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    If you google Lars Kirmser, it will lead you do the lists. Actually a pretty nice site.

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    Oh well;
    I bid on and lost a tenor on ebay. Serial # 26986 and the neck was stamped Jan 1923. Hope that helps with something.
    If anybody wants the pictures (including the date on the neck) for their files the link is http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEDW:IT&ih=016

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    Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holton geauxsax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dolf250
    Oh well;
    I bid on and lost a tenor on ebay. Serial # 26986 and the neck was stamped Jan 1923. Hope that helps with something.
    If anybody wants the pictures (including the date on the neck) for their files the link is http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEDW:IT&ih=016
    I saw that one too, Dolf--identical to the one I bought a couple weeks ago on ebay, except for the neck. Maytbe a little better looking than my tenor, and went for slightly more than mine as well.



    Also, a very nice looking Silver Rudy Wiedoeft tenor went about a month ago for over $500, and a decent lacquer 244 Tenor went for $301.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...LLBUY.m311.lVI

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