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pretty pictures of a gold-plated Couf Superba I

Hay guise,

Thought you guys might like to see these- just finished the overhaul, horn back in the hands of its owner now, but the pictures I took of it came out excellent.

Original gold plate. I worked on it with gloves- the owner can be the one to put fingerprints on it! Played very well. So much tenor in there.



This is one of the later though not "later" horns.

Notice the high F# and "side" F# for the right hand. as the side F# is a normal straight key and the high F# touch has an integrated look.

A few years after that one can thank Gary Ferree (Couf engineer in Detroit) for redesigning this setup to a side F# and a larger high F# touch.

Fantastic horns especially the tenors.
I'd hate to imagine expense in repairing gold plating given the price of gold at the moment. It's lovely that the thing still retains the original plating at such pristine condition...

See here - example of a 82xxx tenor, where the F#'s are more Selmer-like. Also notice the high E key isn't flat (like the Selmer mk VIs and before) and then changed and had a big swoop at the top. I think earlier models didn't have the high F# and some had the high F# next to the high E key.


my original tenor was a Superba 2, the maybe 8 yrs ago I went searching and went through some tenors and ended up with the above Superba 1, then I sold it for it's replacement Selmer mk VII then I added a Superba 1 again.

here are some more pics I have of a 1971 horn
then my old 1978 horn
and here's a pretty black lacquer alto, there was a tenor too.
Most of the money in a gold plating job...

...goes into the labor. The amounts of metal used are pretty small, or so I have been told.

Still, the amount used on a baritone would be twice as great as that used on an alto...or four times as much as used on a sopranino....
Thanks for posting the picture of the newer F# design. Not as pretty, but probably better to use.

As far as the price of plating, I think a lot of it goes to the gold itself. The difference between silver plating a horn (few hundred bucks) and gold plating a horn (1-2 thousand) is not correlated to the labor, which is minimal since to gold plate a horn you have to silver plate it first- which means its already buffed and cleaned and ready to go. And prices have been rising along with the price of gold to where now its just not reasonable. I would bet that the pricing doesn't correlate to the amount of gold actually deposited on the horn, but more to the number of horns you can plate with a gold cathode, which is also losing gold to the solution and to the tank etc. which must be cleaned out and flushed periodically.

And even then, whatever Anderson uses, its not the same as the old stuff. The color is different, it wears different, it tarnishes different. Once you get below pure gold you have alloy the gold with something, so one 14k gold is not the same as the next 14k gold. To really get the new stuff to look like the old stuff, you not only have to use the same plating methods which are not used anymore (probably because it involved lots of cyanide and other nasty chemicals) but get the exact alloy involved, which is doubtless lost to history (mouldering in a filing cabinet at Conn-Selmer if they didn't just throw it out).
If it belongs to Conn...

...it's on a rubbish heap somewhere. The good Colonel and his heirs didn't stand on ceremony when it came to emptying out their files.

"Pure" gold is relatively rare. It's too soft (you can weld two pieces together by clamping them between your molars), and as a result it does not hold its physical form well.

Once you drop below pure gold (24 karat), things start to change. Alloyed with copper, silver or nickel, gold becomes a lot stronger and capable of bearing a greater load.

This applies to wear as well. Wearing through plating is nothing more than a process of abrasion and/or corrosion. My old Conn alto had beautiful gold plate (atop silver plate), but all of the plating on the body side of the horn (left) had been worn off by contact with player's bodies over the eighty years it had been in service.

Interestingly enough, my skin seems to react more strongly with gold plate than it does with silver. I really had problems with nickel plate, but when I switched to silver plated horns, the problem all but disappeared. With gold plate (the original arrangement on my Conn, I would lose all of the skin on my fingertips (outer layer, the dead one), but once the horn was in silver plate the problem disappeared. Go figure.
"Pure" gold is relatively rare.
FWIW when in Lexington, we once had lunch in a venue called "Pure Gold" that offered valet parking and an all-you-can-eat buffet for 99¢, and some kind of, uhm, gymnastic show that involved an oversized bus grab bar and loud music.

I didn't touch any of their food. Not because of the show, I should add. I guess I'm just not much of a Buffet person.
Very nice work on the cosmetics. What product(s) did you use to polish the gold plated surface?
Hand cleaned and polished with dry cloth only. No polishing compound of any type came near this beauty. I worked on it with nitrile gloves on and kept it meticulously clean after washing and hand-polishing (my habit with plated horns). Even playtested with gloves on. I do not own a buffer.

The soap I use is great stuff, I highly recommend it: http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Bronner-Sal-Suds-Biodegradable-Cleaner/dp/B00016QTYO

All sorts of er, interesting stuff written on the bottle, but it works fantastic.
Dr. Bronner...

...actually exists, or rather existed, as late as 1983 or so. I called him up out of curiosity, having read about him in The Straight Dope column in The Chicago (IL) Reader, an alternative newspaper that I actually subscribed to in order to read the column.

Uncle Cecil stated that he had called him and gotten the same sort of response as you might expect to get from someone who sold soap like that in bizarrely annotated labels. I took the trouble to seek him out and got much the same "What the hell?" sort of spiel on the telephone.

It takes all kinds to make up this wacky world of ours...
There is something about those Keilwerth/Couf tenors. Once, the contractor got his signals crossed and I had to borrow a Couf tenor to play a show after being told to play baritone. The horn was so good, it made me think about my own setup.

As for gold plating, when it is good, it's spectacular. I bought a burnished gold Selmer "Radio Improved" alto in original condition. It had gone untouched for 40 years, and frankly, didn't look good. I cleaned it in an acid bath and it came out spectacular. Buffing, even with red rouge, only made it look the same or worse. I repadded it - one of the easiest repads I've ever done - And the horn was amazing. To this day, I can't bring myself to sell it. It's just too good.
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