This necklace is made from the side Bb key of a Buescher Tru-Tone C melody saxophone. The beads are azurite and malachite that have formed together, lapis lazuli, dyed Taiwanese cheesewood, and 10k gold plated steel. The clasp is silver plated steel. The extender chain is sterling silver, and the attached bead is lapis lazuli.
Buescher Tru-Tone C melody saxophone
I found this instrument on a "popular online auction site" and was really excited because it was silver plated, looked fairly ratty, and nobody seemed interested in it. It was listed as a Buescher Tru-Tone alto saxophone. The pictures were kind of iffy, but I decided to go ahead and bid on it. Imagine my surprise when I was notified that I had the winning bid. I never win one of those things! Then I looked at the description. The listing had changed from alto saxophone to C melody saxophone! Of course I accepted it without complaint.
C melody saxophones were common in the 1910s and 1920s because there was a lot of interest in music making in the home, and people had a surprising amount of disposable income, despite it being just after World War I and the Spanish Influenza epidemic. (Insert joke about how history likes to repeat itself here.) The best part about the C melody saxophone was that a person could play right along with the sheet music as it was written, instead of having to have a transposed part like musicians in military bands or big bands or orchestras. This meant you could read out of the church hymnal and play along with the pianist without God striking you with lightning for playing wrong notes. Or something like that. Anyway, people went nuts for it, and so saxophone makers made a bunch.
This was all very well and good, but then the stock market crashed, and suddenly there wasn't much demand for music making in the home anymore. Saxophone makers had to continue making money, and since C melody saxophones were no longer in demand, they stopped production. This coincided with the rise of the big band, which used saxophones pitched in Eb and Bb, which are what we use today. Once the Great Depression had run it's course, there wasn't any real interest in resurrecting the C melody saxophone, so that was pretty much the end. I mean, makers did produce a few here and there, but they were using up old parts that had been lying around in their warehouses and junk storage. There are some that are being made in China at the behest of an Australian company, but they're phasing those out as well, since demand didn't justify the cost of production. The C melody saxophone is more of a collector's item nowadays, and not really worth a lot (despite what you might see on the aforementioned "popular online auction site").
This brings us to the Buescher Tru-Tone C melody saxophone that arrived in the mail a week or so ago. I agonized over whether or not to try and fix it up for the sake of history and "cool factor", but after conferring with some saxophone repair technician colleagues, and reviewing my notes from my apprentice years, I decided that unless the instrument was in exceptional shape, it was destined for my jeweller's bench.
After opening the box, I think I made the right decision. My original plan was to take a peek at it, then do an official Facebook Live unboxing later, but the stench of the case convinced me otherwise. Clearly the thing had been stored in a barn or something, and I don't care WHAT the seller said, vermin have been in that case. I know what rodents and mildew smell like.