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Discussions => Instrument Makes and Models => Topic started by: Rob2Hook on December 09, 2015, 01:24:35 PM

Title: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Rob2Hook on December 09, 2015, 01:24:35 PM
Had a question from a friend in Hickling, Norfolk.  A neighbour came up with a box she'd like any detail we can give about it.  of course I am asking for photos and extra detail, but perhaps some of our Scandinavian brethren already know something about this type?

The mystery Norwegian melodeon is labelled with the maker - William Johnsen, Kristiana.  Serial number is D.R.G.M. 172622.  It has four rows on the right hand and three rows of base buttons on the left, each bass row has 12 buttons, so it's more of a button accordion than melodeon.  The buttons all have mother of pearl tops, although two tops are missing, along with the strap on the left.  Inside looks clean as a whistle and I was able to get a tune out of it with someone holding the left side for me.  Reeds need a bit of tuning but all seem to be working.  The owner says his uncle brought it back from Norway during the First World War.  He would like to know if it is worth restoring, the cost of doing so and the value if restored.

Rob.
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Rob2Hook on December 09, 2015, 02:32:52 PM
Since posting, I've found references on-line to William Johnsen selling rebranded flutes, cornets, etc which were German built.  That may point to the box being a generic Saxony type, but there are exceptions to any rule.  Actually one reference to a flute said it was unusually good!

Rob.
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Theo on December 09, 2015, 02:37:02 PM
Photo needed!
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: triskel on December 09, 2015, 02:41:41 PM
It's probably similar to this one (http://digitaltmuseum.no/011022848278/trekkspill) in the Ringve Musikkmuseum then? (Though that looks very much like a C-system CBA... )

William A. Johnsen opened a music store in Christiania in 1895, he was also a sound-recording pioneer in Norway. In 1915, (having changed his name to William Farre) the company name changed to "William Farre - musical and speech machines".

Like the Ringve Music Museum example, your friend's one was probably imported from Germany by Johnsen, especially as the "serial number" of "D.R.G.M. 172622", that they mention, is actually a German Registered Design Number. (http://www.toledo-bend.com/VCL/info_2/drgm.html)
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Rob2Hook on December 09, 2015, 03:27:14 PM
Yes, Theo,  I've suggested that we'll get nowhere without some photos and a bit of detail about the keys of the treble rows and the bass layout, too.  In fact having warned that the cost of a proper restoration would likely exceed the value, I've suggested that my friend should ask to open it up to find out whether its longplate or individual plates, brass or steel reeds and anything else she can identify.  Sadly although it was brought home by the owner's father it seems that value is uppermost in their mind, so unlikely it will get restored for the sake of it.

Triskel, that's a nice looking box in the museum.  Until I can get some answers about the tuning of bass and treble and overall condition I won't know whether the mystery box is of a similar pleasing nature or a pile of junk from a Saxony workshop!

Rob.
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Theo on December 09, 2015, 04:00:34 PM
Assuming it is like the one the the picture that Stephen linked to it seems to have started life as a good quality box, and as such I would expecting to have individual reed plates.  Having said that it is very unusual for a box of this age to be worth any more than a very modest sum of money. 
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Broadland Boy on December 09, 2015, 11:42:56 PM
Rob, near on a century in the foul miasma which oozes out of Hickling Broad mud and the surrounding marshlands will have done for the poor old box, sucked every last drop of melody out of the reeds and life out of the bellows, I hate to think of the poor thing suffering and since I'm so close would be prepared, at my own expense, to go and fetch it back here to live out its final days in relative comfort, or put it out of its misery and give it a decent burial if too far gone.

If there was any doubt I could always attempt to play it for them, to demonstrate just what awful noises it can emit due to being in pain. :o

Yrs, Curator, The Bogside Box Sanctuary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Squeezeboxes
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Rob2Hook on December 10, 2015, 12:37:29 AM
Richard,

I had similar thought of offering a retirement home down south...

Rob.
Title: Re: William Johnsen, Kristiana
Post by: Broadland Boy on December 10, 2015, 01:42:30 AM
 ;D