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H-Couf and Armstrong, revisited

* The H-Couf Superba-style keywork was added to all Keilwerth horns at almost exactly sn 68,000 (1971). You can actually check me! Go here. The 67633 horn has old-style keywork. 68374 has new.
Mind you, there was some model overlap: the latest "Angel Wing" The New King I have pics of is 50051 (1965). The first The New King with the standard, boring, sheet-metal keyguards I have pics of is 51915 (1965). The first The New King Special I have pics of is 42380 (1961). That 1961 date bothers me. Either Armstrong started ordering H-Coufs in 1961 or earlier or Keilwerth was just coming out with new models because they wanted to confuse folks. Researchers, at least.

Does this help ?

Here's an early Superba 1/2-ish alto SN# 56462
notice the similarities to the normal Keilwerth, and the see-saw F# key, extra key and plexi pant guard.

This is actually a 2 if you notice ... related to the question of when the 1 and 2 coexisted. But of course it has RTH. So did early 1/2 both have RTH in the beginning? What was JK offerings at this and slightly before this SN?

EDIT: I should also add that Mr Gary Ferree was quite happy when he mentioned that he redesigned the RH side F# key, away from the see-saw type to the more modern type. He also (re)added as standard the high F# key.



Of course, then you had those Bundy Specials. SN 48799. You can look at the pictures on the junkdude.com website. Were these Keilwerths or German Amati's or Dörfler & Jörka or something?

What is interesting identifier is the bell roll. If you notice they don't roll the bell all the way over and instead roll it and meld it into the bottom of the bell flare. This unique feature may help identify who actually made it. I know some vintage brass (mostly Trumpets and Cornets) had this type of bell roll but I cannot recall which makes/models.

or a 48748 tenor from eBay
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The alto had overlapping side F# see-saw and high F# at one time. SN 67707

or this SN 65024 with a see-saw F# and high position high F#
take a good look at the RH keys there ..... and yes, the one pivot screw is about to fall out.

ooh, I was looking for this earlier Superba I black lacquer one for some reason; metal removeable thumbrest. Later S1 had the plastic thumb rest.
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Thanks for the Royalist info! I've been waiting for a source.
FYI, that for the Royalist II. That information has been generally available on the internet for a couple decades on the greatest H. Couf website ever at: http://www.woodwindforum.com/clarinetperfection/h-couf-sax/

The Royalist and Royalist I were still european horns. I believed they were Keilwerths but could be one of those lookalike "sister" Amati's or Dörfler & Jörka companies of Keilwerth. I have various pics somewhere of the various Royalists.

A lot of the wikipedia of Couf was scraped from one of my webpages at one time. Someone edited it though, with in correct information in regards to the Royalist models. At one time I was a "fake" main contact for Couf information beyond the real people that knew. Kinda like Buffet and Conn-Selmer USA sending people to my website for information that they couldn't provide!! Yes, I was told that.

I pulled these pics from eBay.

Royalist 63799
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Royalist II from Elkhart
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I'm curious about Herb Couf horns, since I know very little about them--but am about to become a Superba II bari owner.

When did the Superba IIs get introduced to the American market? The reason I ask, is b/c the bari I'm looking at is engraved H. Couf Superba II on the bell, and Made in Germany 61XXX on the back. The JK serial # chart tells us that this horn was made in 1968, but I didn't think the Superba IIs were available that early already.

Paul Maslin---whose shop I'm buying the sax through--and I were kicking around some theories yesterday, and he can't remember the IIs being around that early, although the Is certainly were. He does know that the I & II were sold concurrently at some point--but again, he's not sure of that early. When he saw this horn's early serial #, he too looked up JK's serial # charts to check the date of manufacturing.

Paul is theorizing that perhaps due to the horn's unusual finish (black nickel plate with gold plated keys), that this sax could simply be an anomaly, and I'm guessing, one of the first Superba II baris on the market.

I have not come across anything to indicate that JK altered the serial numbers that they put on Couf horns. To the best of my knowledge, and from everything that I have read, JK's serial #'s remained consecutive.

Any insight or theories that anyone would like to share would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Superba IIs ... such as yours (Yes, you have a TWO) were introduced, I believe a little later (what later means .. days, months, years I don't know). I was told by Couf & Ferree ( a long time ago) that they introduced the non-RTH alto and tenor to more compete with the Selmers. The non-RTH provided a more focused tone and not as lush as the Superba 1s with RTH according to their acoustic studies of the time.

No conspiracy there. I don't know exactly when but think mk VI era which would be well before 1974.

I guess the best way to figure that out is to troll and document ebay and other sax forsale places for serial numbers.

btw, the Armstrong (JK/Couf identified) horns were just spare parts/excess inventory put together and sold. So you'll see a mish-mash of 1 and 2 identifiers on the same horn, or flat metal bell braces which were quick to cut, file/buff, fold and solder. Also, In brief, after the dissolution of the JK/Couf / WT Armstrong, Mr. Couf attempted to restart a brand of instruments including saxes (Those were not JK horns), clarinets, trumpets, trombones, etc).

this should be enough for tonight to keep Helen and Pete busy.
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Now keep in mind there were Student Armstrongs and the "Pro" Armstrong horns available. The Pro Armstrongs were a great deal at the time, as they were just spare inventory combined together and rebadged.

This January 1982 NEMC catalog pages show you the model # and prices back then. Keep in mind, this is 1982 where the catalogs probably needed 6 months to get them from non-computer design to print.
One of the things I've never really paid attention to nor date was the change in engraving, from "regular" Selmer style engraving to the more flamboyant art-deco type engraving.

I do know that the old horns with the higher high F# key (the ones you use the same first finger for the side high F and reach to get the high F#) had the old engraving. And horns with the repositioned F# key has the art deco engraving. But was it a clean switch at that time frame?

I guess this is one of those watch eBay and document things for me to know now. I'm curious ...

JIm's Couf twins - Art Deco style engraving
Jim's Alto was an earlier one than mine. His has a metal thumbrest where as mine had the plastic thumbrest.

Early engraving: alto and tenor

Notice this Superba2 does not have RTH. Now I'll have to go check my picture cache and find the Serial Number.

I really do enjoy the art deco style engraving.
And I could I would take the bell of my Couf alto and keep it and sell the rest of the horn. I prefer the tone of my Selmer alto (so did Grover, I think he got that from me ?? lol).

I also really enjoy the old Selmer BA engravings such as the Sailboat engraving.
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That's odd .. trolling the internet

Superba 1 alto 73190 (at least from 67654 ) has a mostly art deco engraving with a swirl still going around the H. Couf; the high F# integrated wit hthe see-saw F#, and low side keys; black plastic G# touch piece.

73301 (year 1974) tenor is latest SN I've found with this engraving and keywork.

with the, lack of better categorization, 3rd generation of high F# key
1st gen high F# has a flat high set key
2nd gen high F# has a more shaped high set key
3rd gen has it set with the see-saw low F# key as below
4th gen with the redesigned side F#, and separate side high F#



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I know why I stopped doing this .. make's one go insane and I forget exactly the purpose of it.

I'll add to this list

SATB - soprano, alto, tenor, bari
RTH - Rolled Tone Holes or Straight
Side F# - see saw, side (various types with S based on touch)
High F# - Top 1 flat key by high F; Top 2 curved key by high F; round seesaw; over flat see saw which has seesaw flatter touch; separate/modern
thumbrest - fixed (S2), metal adjustable (S1), plastic (S1)
Touches - carrier type; oversized
Bell Brace - single rod (B has thick 3 piece rod); double loop
Engraving - pre (art deco); mid (art deco ?); full art deco

Normally Superba 2's engraving is limited. Superba 1s engraving has more and goes to the bow.
Neck Strap Ring - Superba 2 is simple circle, Superba 1 are thicker teardrop shape.
Thumbrest - fixed thumbrest, versus 3 position angle adjustable, plastic
Bell Brace - Superba 1 is a kinda double circle, Superba 2 is a straight rod

SN SATB model RTH side F# high F# thumbrest touches bell brace engraving

56462 alto S2 RTH seesaw top 2 metal fixed carriers single art deco
65024 tenor S2 STR seesaw top 2 metal fixed carriers single art deco
67654 alto S2 rth seesaw overlap sideF# metal adjustable oversized double ring full art deco
67624 tenor S1 RTH seesaw overlap sideF# metal adjustable oversized double ring full art deco
73303 tenor S1 RTH seesaw overlap side F# metal adj oversized double ring full art deco
1960s tenor S2 ST seesaw w/pearl top 1 metal fixed carriers single pre

I really need to create a table for this .... shows good in editing but compresses in View mode. Maybe @pete can help ??
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This is definitely one of my favorite threads.

Working backwards a bit, I thought there was a table function, someplace. I'll have to see if I can find it. One more thing to add to the pile!

> The Royalist and Royalist I were still european horns. I believed they were Keilwerths but could be one of those lookalike "sister" Amati's or Dörfler & Jörka companies of Keilwerth. I have various pics somewhere of the various Royalists.
I can't discount that there may be a D&J or an Amati thrown in the bunch, but I sort-of doubt it. On P1 of this thread, I mention that I've seen some Royalists that look Keilwerth-made and have Keilwerth serial numbers, so I'm good with that. There are the Armstrong-made horns that are Keilwerth reverse-engineered, so I'm OK with that. I also mentioned I saw a Borgani-made Royalist, which is probably the oddest of the bunch, especially because I've not seen Borgani stencils before. Mind you, I haven't really been looking.

> Of course, then you had those Bundy Specials. SN 48799. You can look at the pictures on the junkdude.com website. Were these Keilwerths or German Amati's or Dörfler & Jörka or something?
No such thing as a "German Amati." Amati was always Czech :p.

Helen does mention D&J-made horns with Keilwerth serial numbers after 1965, but the Bundys and Bundy Specials predate that by several years. I've got some Bundy bari pics from back in 1959 and Bundy Special pics from 1961. However, that "wishbone" bell-to-body brace on some Bundy Specials really does bother me, as I've not seen it on a sax that has "Keilwerth" engraved on the bell. Or any other make, really.

Yah. I'm still not quite happy with the info I have on the Bundy and Bundy Specials. I might look into that more.
Here from Keilwerth website ...
1965. The cooperation between Keilwerth factory and Herb Couf. Herb and Josef Keilwerth signed an agreement that lasted until 1987. After which Keilwerth produced saxophones for Herb, specifically designed for the US market. They were known as H. Couf Superb I Superb II and Royalist. In a few years, Keilwerth was recognized among musicians as one of the best saxophone. Its fifty thousandth saxophone was sold in 1965. By 1970, the company began to focus on producing only the saxophone.

For many years the Couf instruments were marketed primarily by one person, flying around the country and promoting the Couf saxophones to primarily musicians (from some past information). So there was no wide adoption of Couf instruments such as if a large company would start marketing and selling something, no social media back then either. Later on after getting in distributors did the instruments get more exposure although I believe there was still not a large marketing of them compared to Selmer USA, Conn, King etc of the time. So some markets / music stores may not have been introduced to them until much later.


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..I also mentioned I saw a Borgani-made Royalist, which is probably the oddest of the bunch, especially because I've not seen Borgani stencils before. Mind you, I haven't really been looking.
I think the Borganis were just a coincidence in naming of Royalist.
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OK folks, the first H. Couf page is done... Wow, that was a boatload of work!!!!

I will be doing a page on the the various models--perhaps 1 page per model--on the Superba I, II, and Royalist. Although I must admit, the Royalist does not appeal to me a great deal. Researching them is a bit of snore-fest. That said, I will try and find a few examples that still look good, and illustrate what they looked like as well.

Steve, do you have those price lists in hard copy, and scan them yourself? If so, would you be able to email them to me? If you're open to it, I would like to include them in my Couf page. I'm having a very hard time tracking down any printed material.
Keilwerth brasswinds, including catalogs, per request on Helen's website: https://marge.home.xs4all.nl/Keilwerth.htm
Helen's and my Keilwerth Picture Gallery: https://bassic-sax.info/pix/keilwerth

Quoting our Steve, the Superba I wooden clarinets stamped "Made in France" are probably Leblanc/Noblet stencils. The Superba II and Royalist clarinets are probably made by Schreiber.

I shall attempt to find pics.

@Steve, if you don't have hard copies of the above and/or don't want to scan, I can whip up a PDF or HTML page pretty easily.
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Royalist Ebonite Clarinet: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Herbert-Couf-Royalist-Ebonite-Clarinet/dp/7840317081
Mouthpieces: https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOT-OF-4-H...thpieces-Display-Case-Alto-Tenor/254018154092

While mouthpieces generally don't do anything for me, the above auction has a bunch of mouthpieces and a really nice case.

View attachment 9506 View attachment 9507
I actually was contemplating buying the mpcs and case until I read that many of the mpcs were not included.

That OLD Couf Royalist wood clarinet is really old. If you look at the throat keys you'll see 3 shared post design. Shreiber? Look at the top key, lower joint and how the arm angles up. A good Malerne/Artley indicator along with the slotted barrel trill key guide with the older 3 post setup. I'm not much of an Artley historian though ... I'd have to start that from scratch really.
Here are just the H-Couf prices from the above. Open Office format, PDF, and HTML.

According to my favorite inflation calculator, $895 -- that's the 1983 price for the Superba II soprano -- is $2235 in 2017 US dollars. It amazes me that I was able to buy as many horns and electronica as I did in the 1980s and 1990s. Well, I did work two jobs and I'm still paying for student loans ...


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