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Martin Handcraft Imperial
Alto Saxophone

Serial Number 111921
The Martin Story website dates it to 1935.

The pictures are at the bottom of this page.

$995

ENGRAVING –
Nice, sharp original, unbuffed engraving which says:

MARTIN
Handcraft
IMPERIAL
ELKHART
IND.
U.S.A.

On the back, under the thumbhook, the engraving says:

MARTIN
111921
LOW PITCH

Also the identical serial number (111921) is hidden under one of the keys.

Made in Elkhart, Indiana

Don’t confuse this with the Imperial Martin made in the 1960’s…that was a student horn or intermediate at best.
This is the Handcraft Imperial which is the professional model that Martin made for short period.
We're talking 1937 folks...70 years ago. The Hindenberg burst into flames. The German Luftwaffe bombed Guernica, Spain. Jean Harlow dies at the age of 26.

When this horn came to me it was missing its neck, but I found a replacement old Handcraft Imperial neck (see below).
The pads are like-new...very little use.

This is one of the rarest models made by Martin...very hard to come by.
It was made for a relatively short period.

It is the prototype 'modern' American-made sax.
Here I list some of the features that first appear with Martin's H.C. Imperial:
1. This is one of their first horns with the bellkeys both on the same side instead of 'split', one on each side of the bell.
2. It also has the linkage between the low C#, B, and Bb bellkeys and the G#. A feature that was not present in earlier horns.
3. There is linkage between the High D and High D# keys. When the High D# is open it also opens the High D…or looking at it conversely, when the High D is closed the High D# is also closed. Make no mistake, the High D can be opened by itself.
4. There is a linkage between the octave key and the C key. When the octave key is pressed (open) the C key is closed. This improves intonation.
5. This horn still has the D#/Eb trill key as do many older horns, but it is repositioned to me more reliable.

No doubt this was their professional model.
The Martin designers/engineers were never satisfied...the horn evolved over its production run.
For more info, check out the webpage where I contrast the 1933 Imperial vs. the 1937 Imperial.

A very well built horn that plays like a vintage Martin should.

THE ORIGINAL NECK FOR THIS HORN IS MISSING, GONE, EVANITO!
I purchased another entire Martin Imperial to get an authentic Imperial neck. That neck is serial number 113672. The neck tenon fits snugly into the socket.
If you have ever tried to track down and buy a replacement vintage stock neck in good condition, you will realize what an accomplishment it is to get one. When you do find them, they can easily go for hundreds of dollars.
The rest of the 113672 Martin Imperial I have kept on the shelf as a 'parts' horn.

LACQUER – The lacquer is in great shape, aside from a few blemishes I show in some of the many (too many?) photos below.
There are a couple of places where the lacquer has been compromised. Two places on the outside where the bell is attached to the bow; and a couple of small places on the inside of the bell (not very noticeable). Also there is one place right below the palm keys and finally once place right above the high F key, almost looks like it is due to prior dentwork, but I can feel no signs of dentwork there. All that said, the lacquer is otherwise in overall fabulous condition, a wonderful dark honey color.

I used my tuner to check the intonation of this sax and it plays in tune quite well. I also want to mention that I found very easy to 'bend' notes by altering my embouchure.

DENTS –
- One minor, shallow dent in bell at engraving…minor, not noticeable.
- One dent, below palm keys, removed
- One dent, halfway between strap ring and lower thumbhook, mostly removed, but still a ripple present.
- One dent, above High F key, removed. Lacquer missing.

The bell rim and bow are beautifully dent-free.

KEY ACTION -
Sweet, I love it.

Some owner…I’d like to think the original owner…had his name professionally engraved on the band that links the bell to the bow ”A. R. Bomdase”…at least I think that is it…it is in an ornate script. I tried Googling this name to no effect.
Many of the keys have "Imp. A" engraved on the underside.

CASE –
The case, as cool as it, has and odor to it. Not the normal musty smell of vintage cases, but something that reminds me of the smell of shoe polish. Might be from some sort of leather treatment done to the straps inside the case?
The case was built to hold a second instrument, not sure what. Can you tell me?
The case is in good condition. It has one Martin emblem on outside of the case and one on the inside.
Case hardware (hinges and latches) in very good condition, except for the handle which works but is deteriorating.

PAPERWORK - The horn comes with the original Martin Guarantee certificate. This qualifies as 'ephemera'.

Martin Handcraft Imperial Alto

 

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