Photography, Music, Fractal Art

A rare little beauty–Selmer Modèle 26 sopranino saxophone

This one just fell into my lap. It is dangerous to browse eBay. I was idly killing time when I came across an ad for a Selmer “Eb soprano”. I thought it was a typo, especially because listed was a Modèle 26 instrument, made in 1926. I had never seen a Selmer sopranino before the famous Mark VI; surely this must be a Bb soprano?

First to good old Google–nothing listed at all for a Selmer ‘nino prior to the six. Time to dig deeper. Luckily the seller had included good pictures, but without anything to indicate scale. Well, it could be a Bb soprano, but only keyed up to high Eb, whereas Selmer had gone to high F on sops with the introduction of the Modèle 26…More searching….now I wanted to find pictures of the 26 soprano for comparison. Hard to tell…could this be transitional? I did not want to hit the “Buy it Now” button and find out I made a horrible mistake…I don’t need another Bb soprano…

Finally what clinched it for me was the relative size of the pearls on the lower keys. On the 26 soprano there was much more keycup around the pearls. The size of pearls is pretty much fixed. On the pictures of the “Eb soprano”, the pearl touches almost covered the entire key. This must be a sopranino! But a Modèle 26 sopranino? I held my breath and hit “Buy it Now”.

Later I found one reference to a Balanced Action sopranino, labeled “excpetionally rare”. And eventually I was led by Pete at the Woodwind Forum to a link to one other known Modèle 26 sopranino, on offer in 2006. There must be others, but I can find no other reference anywhere.

The one I bought is a one-owner horn, exceptionally well cared-for. My friend and sax expert Randy Emerick says that the lacquer must not be original, because lacquer was not used on saxes until the early 1930’s. It is what is called a “first lacquer”, done afterwards. In any case it is beautifully done, and it still holds up surprisingly well.

And it plays well as well! I am not much of a ‘nino player, but the intonation is good, and I am even getting to the top now with some regularity :~)

Here are some pictures of this beautiful little brass mosquito:

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The horn is basically pristine–not a dent or a ding anywhere, although there is a strange thing: the back of the horn is straight, but the front, where the tone holes lie, flares outward. At first I thought this was a “banana bend” but now I believe it is the original shape. Either the horn came off the madrel this way, or it is an actual example of the mythical “parabolic cone” that Sax talked about. It exactly matches the shape that Jaap Kool described when talking about Sax’s parabolic bore.

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Upper stack. No wear on the pearls at all–the horn has not seen much use it seems

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Lower stack

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Lower stack detail

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Upper stack detail

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Thumb key

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LH pinky cluster

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Selmer stamp

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Bell

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Mouthpiece

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Even the case is in good shape!

16 Comments

  1. antonio fernandez
    2013/08/11 @ 21:46

    how much do you want for the sopranino?

    Reply

    • tobylog1
      2013/08/11 @ 23:15

      Hi Antonio–I’m not really thinking of selling it…

      Reply

  2. Werner B.
    2013/08/12 @ 05:39

    Thanks for the fine pictures.
    A marvelous instrument.
    You can feel so lucky. Take care of it.

    Reply

  3. Selmer-hunter
    2013/09/17 @ 19:10

    Very nice instruement!
    I own a brother of it: Sopranino Nr. 5518, nickel plated.

    Reply

    • tobylog1
      2013/09/18 @ 06:39

      Thanks for writing Selmer Hunter. Do you know of others? I could only find mention of one other on the web. BTW I also am the proud owner of a 22 curved sop–a great horn!

      Reply

      • Selmer-hunter
        2013/09/18 @ 17:13

        I own a Selmer 1922 curved Soprano, too. And there exists 3-4 other model 22 and a few model 26 curved sorpanos. Very rare stuff…

        Reply

  4. Selmer-hunter
    2013/09/18 @ 17:15

    …but I’ve heard of no other model 26 sopranino…

    Reply

  5. tobylog1
    2013/09/19 @ 12:18

    There is also at least one BA curved soprano and one BA sopranino. Looking closely at pictures of these two horns, I notice that they are exactly the same as the Model 22 curved and the Model 26 ‘nino–the only difference in both instruments is the addition of a pearl on the G# key and a pearl on the alt F#. Other than that, only the stamp on the bell is different. I’ll bet the 1922 curved sop is identical to my Model 22 curved. Legend is that the curved sop bodies were left over from A. Sax when Selmer bought the shop. They just keyed them and stamped them. I don’t know about the sopranino. I guess that they were developing the main family members, and until the Mk VI the sopranino was the same, with only the stamp of the current model in production.

    Reply

  6. tobylog1
    2013/09/19 @ 12:32

    Here’s some info: a Balanced Action sopranino is pictured here, with pearls on both G# and F#
    http://www.saxophone.org/museum/saxophones/specimen/619
    But here is a SBA ‘nino, with pearl only on the G#:
    http://www.williampetit.com/sax-sopranino-selmer/sopranino.htm

    I’m sure that they are exactly the same as the 26 ‘nino except for the pearl(s)

    Here is one other 26 ‘nino:
    http://www.saxpics.com/the_gallery/selmer/26/sopranino/gold/4935-sq-5000/

    Reply

  7. Nick
    2014/02/21 @ 15:59

    Hi thanks for your input.
    I have a 26 and you are the only one that knows anything about it.
    But mine is silver, not lackered but origional..
    Could you tell me how much it is worth and if you give me a contact I will sen you a pic of my sax..
    Thanks Nick

    Reply

  8. Nick
    2014/02/21 @ 16:05

    Hello again this is Nick
    the model No is No 4522
    How exciting.

    Reply

  9. Ferran
    2014/05/28 @ 23:34

    Fantastic man! If you are interested to sale it, please tell me! I have a Buescher sopranino, I love extrem saxophones usually I play nino and bass saxophone. This 26 it’s so beautiful!

    Reply

  10. Dean Martin
    2014/09/05 @ 01:22

    I’ve just found one of these in a house clearance please call me on 07980143712 if interested it needs a bit of work though many thanks

    Reply

  11. Tom
    2015/01/31 @ 03:56

    I saw that horn on ebay for $8,500.00. It’s a high price to pay for a toy.

    Reply

    • tobylog1
      2015/02/07 @ 10:58

      I paid $2800. It is a seriously good ‘nino.

      Reply

  12. Nick
    2015/05/14 @ 22:56

    I Have still got the silver selmer 26 as mentioned in the above Note, if anyone is interested let me know..

    Reply

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