© MIM Photo Anne Deknock
  • IND ?> Inv. number


  • Other Number Other numbers: JT280 / S89
  • CN/NP ?> Common name / Nominal Pitch

    Oboe in C

  • TS ?> Type or system

    Elaborate Système 4

  • MK ?> Maker


  • IN ?> Mark, inscriptions

    AD. SAX&cie / PARIS // BREVETE / (G clef) – on TJ;

    BREVETE / (G clef) / (traces of a mark - not legible) – on MJ;

    AD. SAX&cie / PARIS / BREVETE / (G clef) – on B;

    ‘1’ and ‘1861’ – on back of B.

  • SN ?> Serial number (?)1861 (engraved on bell)
  • PL ?> Place of origin Paris
  • DM ?> Date of making (?)1861 (engraved on bell) – Middle of the 19th century.
  • MATERIALS Ebony with silver or silver plated keywork.
  • Body Length 562.84mm
  • TJ length (body + tenon) 222.48mm + 18.8mm
  • MJ length (body +tenon) 194.6mm + 25mm
  • B length 145.93mm
  • Acoustic Length 319.5mm
  • BORE
  • Minimal bore c.4.6mm (hard to measure: octave receiver through bore).
  • Reed well diameter 6.8mm
  • Reed or crook well depth (if cylindrical) 16.8mm
  • Bore at end of TJ 9.8mm
  • Bore at top of MJ 10.9mm
  • Bore at end of MJ 14.4mm
  • Bore at top of B 15.9mm

    Keys with flat round lipped keyheads, on axles and pillars.

    Variant system no.4, with old-fashioned (early Brod/Triebert style) half-hole plateau. 2 octave keys on 1 axle with 2 touches for L0. C and Bb on 1 axle for R1. Left Eb and low B on one long axle, no butterfly key, but another design, same technique. Low B-key on bell.

    3rd hole doubled with finger cove.

    Huge inner rim in bell. No vent-holes.

    Milled out keyholes, some with countersunk edge.

    Metal lining: reed well, tenons, sockets, joint and bell ends. Top joint with reinforcement ring.

    Top octave speaker through bore.

  • FL ?> Faults

    Fair condition. Crack on top of MJ, 3 cracks on B, one of them plugged. Keywork in very good condition.

  • UP ?> Usable Pitch

    Pitch points towards A = c.438–440Hz.

  • PC ?> Performance Characteristics

    Instrument is not in good playing condition. Pads do not seal, and one crack on top of MJ.

    Oboe does not respond easily – quite a lot of resistance, not clear if this is because of the body condition (cracks).

  • FM ?> Further information on maker

    Pierre (1893).

    Haine & De Keyser (1980). Unfortunately this book does not discuss the Sax oboes in the Brussels MIM, both instruments not yet being in the possession of the museum at that date.

  • Remarks

    The Galpin Society provides extensive information about the numerous trade marks that Sax used throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (see the Galpin Society’s website for this). According to this list, based on the whole of the reference literature about Sax, this particular trade mark with the treble clef does not appear as being a genuine Sax trade mark. It seems that the mark is a composite one and that AD. SAX&cie / PARIS and  BREVETE / (G clef) are separate marks that have been put on at different moments and separate places on TJ and B, given the different clarity and legibility. The G clef mark on TJ is partly under the half-hole plateau, but this key could have been added later on, given the different key style.


    Dr Geoffrey Burgess pointed out the many similarities of this instrument to Nonon oboes. Indeed the G clef does not appear as a proper Sax trade mark, but is a Nonon mark. It is not unimaginable that Ad. Sax hired Nonon as a subcontractor to make oboes, which was not Sax’s core business.


    It is not clear whether the number 1861 is a serial number or the date of manufacture, which it could very well be if it was made by Nonon.


    Similarities to modèle Charles Triébert, system no.4, but with a particular key design. Fétis (1856) p.7 reports that Nonon exhibited an oboe with new features (“ disposition of holes and keys...”) in the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle.


    Pierre (1893) p.351: “Quant au hautbois, on sait que c’est à TRIEBERT qu’il doit le meilleur de ses perfectionnements et non à Ad. SAX.”