When silver is not silver at all. (more help in evaluating vintage instruments)

Dear Mr Friedland
I have a silver clarinet, the body and keys are all silver the information on the clarinet is as follows: Model number 32262, the name on the instrument is Cavalier, the place it was made Elkhart, IND USA. It does not come apart except for the mouth piece. I would like some information on this instrument and the amount you think it is worth.
Thank You,
Hello D.N.
I am in receipt of the photos of the clarinet in question. It was made by the King Company in Elkhart, Indiana.It is not made of silver but of brass with a plating which is usually called German silver. German silver has a color resembling silver, but is an alloy of primarily copper, nickel and zinc. As a plating on keys, it has little value, nor does the clarinet. These were made in great numbers by the King Company and were primarily a student instrument. There are still many of them to to be found around ,in music stores and on Ebay, where their value is usually from $75 to $100,if that much can be gleaned from these older student instruments. The fact concerning older or “vintage” clarinets, especially those made of metal is that there ae very few which have much actual worth for ay investment purposes. None of the Cavalier models made by King are worth much at all. The only metal clarinets are the models made in Paris by the Selmer Company. Usually these are heavily silver plated and have a more comprehensive system of fingering and have a double wall as well as a tuning barrel whichis adjustable. Not many were manufactured in the 1920s, which when found in excellent condition can be quite costly.
I get many requests fro evaluation . The usual instrument should be in excellent condition whatever the material and in the case oof metal itshould be immaculate.
Wooden instruments are a bit more difficult as there are man who place inordinate value and in many cases he clarinet will not have much value as an old antique.
By in large clarinets do not appreciate as they get older. I have found that the opposite is true.
Sometimes the best value is that which is intrinsic, that is to say, the private value an owner places for personal reasons.
The”fleamarket” clarinets are usually not collecting pieces.
keep practising.
Sherman Friedland


One Response to When silver is not silver at all. (more help in evaluating vintage instruments)

  1. Joe Glaysher says:

    Dear Mr Friedland
    Some years ago I bought a Cavalier alto sax very cheaply on eBay. No one else bid for it. I own a Conn 6M alto and the Cavalier lacks some keywork, all engraving and the silver plating of the 6M (replaced with nickel). On the plus side its intonation is on a par with the 6M and it has a sweet vintage tone.

    On the basis of this I bought a Cavalier metal clarinet. Likewise, properly adjusted, it plays in tune, with a fast action and a strong woody tone. Learning clarinet to double I took the clarinet to my teacher who tried it and commented “I’d take that on any gig”.
    I play in a community band which has in its repertoire a number of Balkan tunes. I find I can “bend” notes far easier on this than I can on my Ridenour clarinet and its strident tone cuts through the band like a knife through butter.

    Cavalier instruments were, of course, hand made by the same craftsmen that made the 6M, 10M and 12M saxophones. I can’t imagine that these craftsmen would deliberately lower their standards in producing the cheaper instruments and on the evidence of my own instruments they are worthy of greater respect than is usually accorded them.

    Thank you for your always interesting and informative site

    Joe Glaysher

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