Boosey & Hawkes ’32’ alto (1932)

The Story

I acquired this alto from a charity shop in Reading via an eBay advert. It’s a simply brilliant horn.

The Instrument

It was named after the year it was made, 1932.

Its serial number is slightly higher than the 1932 range in the excellent note on Boosey and Hawkes on the Vancouver Concert Band site and lower than the lowest Boosey & Hawkes serial number (as opposed to Boosey & Co., or Hawkes & Son prior to their merger in 1930) on Adams Musical Instruments’ one. It has rolled tone-holes and is silver-plated. The lower keys are all on the left as you play it – a feature of older saxes.

The big question is whether it was made by B&H, or a stencil. Well – it doesn’t look like a Hawkes & Son rebranded after the merger, and it certainly doesn’t look like a Keilwerth or Kohlert from the early 1930s. It shares some features of the 1935 René Guénot tenor I reviewed on this site earlier – especially the ‘nail-file’ pinky key. So it’s probably a stencil – slightly less likely to have been made in the UK by Boosey & Hawkes (and if so it’s from the Boosey, not Hawkes, side). As always I’d welcome your ideas on this.

The Player

It plays very well from top to bottom, which is great as it would be a nightmare to repad over rolled tone holes. It would look nearly new if dismantled and cleaned with silver polish, … but almost impossible to do without repadding it! For now I’m enjoying it, especially as it came with a 1940s Brilhart Tonelin mouthpiece.


  • Make – Boosey & Hawkes
  • Model – 1932
  • Serial Number – 29899
  • Date of Manufacture – 1932
  • Place of Manufacture – London (if B&H) or Paris (if René Guénot)
  • Finish –Silver plated
  • Weight –
  • Sound – Bright, smooth
  • Ease of Blowing – Full, but slightly thin
  • Ease of Fingering – Easy, but slightly heavy on the pinky keys

Do you play a Boosey, Hawkes, or Boosey & Hawkes saxophone? We’re always very interested in reviewing your instrument here.

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