Early Martin Saxophones are popular with vintage saxophone collectors because of their high quality sound and their handsome looks. If a collector or a website refers to “The Martin” saxophone, that means it had “The Martin” engraved on the saxophone’s bell, and the type of sax (baritone, tenor, alto, etc.) engraved above.
Martin saxophones made up to the late 1960s are particularly prized by collectors. One model in particular is the Master “Typewriter” baritone sax, whose keys resembled typewriter keys, and which was known for a rich, full sound quality. In the 1930s Martin made the Master series, the Handcraft series, which included the Handcraft Imperial and the Handcraft Troubadour. Models introduced in the late 30s and early 40s had names like Lion and Crown, Searchlight, and Sky-line.
The official Music Man came along in the 1960s, around the same era as the Magna. These were all professional models, and all still have their loyal fans. Martin did make student saxophones, too. You can tell if a Martin saxophone is a student model if it is an Imperial, Indiana, or Medalist. These are good saxes too, just not as highly coveted as the professional models.
In 1961, Martin was merged with two other instrument manufacturers, Reynolds and Blessing. These Martins have a “RMC” marking. In 1964, Wurlitzer bought the trademarks, copyrights, engineering records, tools, and patents that had belonged to Martin. Rights were sold again in 1971 to a French company called LeBlanc. They use the Martin trademark on Yanigasawa built saxophones.
Martin saxophones, while they are fine instruments, do not seem to have the mythology built up around them the way the Bueschers and Yamahas do. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less deserving of a good reputation. But their lack of prominence in the vintage market can make them – particularly the early “Typewriter” models – good buys for vintage collectors. There aren’t as many of these as there are of Bundys and Yamahas, so their rarity adds to their relative value as vintage instruments.