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Author Topic: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box  (Read 2418 times)

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Theo

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Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« on: December 22, 2014, 05:38:11 PM »

I've just acquired this nice old box and I need to decide whether to renovate it, or keep it for parts in case I'm asked to repair a similar one.

Its an Excelsior marked "as played by Wm. Hannah". Two row two voice in BC, steel reeds on separate zinc plates and 24 bass in Stradella layout with a row of basses and a row of major chords.  The bass end has five sets of reeds. For it's period (1930s) it is a very high quality box, well built throughout and with some of the best reeds available at the time.   The reeds are all in good order, no rust and no broken tongues.   The major problems are that the bellows are scrap, and on the treble side there are 4 levers and pallets missing.

Is there a market for a box like this?   Would anyone be interested in playing it?  I would love to see it back in use, but is it worth putting time and effort into it?
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Bill Young

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2014, 07:30:16 PM »

Looks like a lot of work! Regarding whether there's a market - you'll recall that, back in 2011, Donald Black had a spoon-bass version of similar vintage, but in much better condition (externally at least), for sale. Do you know whether he managed to sell it? Is it possible that the most likely home for this one would be a collection or museum, rather than a player? Would it cost more to restore than you could possibly sell it for?
Of course, the brand is Wilkinson, model "Excelsior" - no connection with Excelsior accordions of New York and Castelfidardo. I think the conclusion of a previous discussion was that these were probably made by Hohner for Wilkinson's of Glasgow.

george garside

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2014, 08:46:47 PM »

I have a very similar 1 row 3 voice 2bass  excelsior in A that I need to get round to sorting out as its been in a cupboard for 3 years awaiting new gaskets and valves. Otherwise in very good condition. reeds on 3 single blocks 2 flat mounted and one vertical er out of tune .  the middle set  is either well out of tune or deliberately set up to give a sort of bell like sound to the proceedings??

On it   is written   '' made in  wuerttenburg''

george
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fiddleboxdavey

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 11:01:28 AM »

I used to have an Excelsior William Hannah accordion like yours Theo. It was a surprisingly pleasing box to play and sounded great. It was in remarkably good condition although the reeds needed a bit of an overhaul. As I play in C#/D I moved it on and have always regretted not having the tuning converted from its original B/C. Yours looks like it is in need of some serious work however.

Here's a great YouTube clip of Ian Cruickshanks playing his 1920's Excelsior as played by Wm. Hannah-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYpP3CEnV_w

John Crawford told me a few great stories of William Hannah- if I can remember any of them I will update this post! He remembers visiting William Hannah in his caravan near Milnathort (by Kinross) when he was a youth and if I remember correctly he was from a coal mining family. John said he was a very famous and talented player in his day although he was too fond of the drink, especially latterly. I'm sure John told me he never met him sober although it never seemed to affect his playing abilities! I have some lovely old 78's of William Hannah's band playing and it is a very distinctive sound with that melodeon. Co-incidentally, I even had a William Hannah recording of the Rothesay Bay waltz (complete with trumpet harmonies!) for the first dance at my wedding.

I also have many other 78's of old Scottish melodeon players that I've been lucky enough to find over the years. I also have a few concertina players too. I have moved workshop lately so everything is all over the place at the moment! I'll hopefully get around to putting all the recordings on mp3 or similar in the new year. I'd be happy to share them with anyone who'd be interested in them.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 11:12:19 AM by fiddleboxdavey »
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Theo

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2014, 11:26:26 AM »

Hi Davey,  thanks for that.
I've hear the Wm Hannah recordings that were re-issued a few years back on the "Melodeon Greats" CD. 
I don't know if you knew that recently Luke Daniels re-created some of these early recordings by Hannah and by Peter and Daniel  Wyper.  I believe he intends to publish an album of them in the near future. 

Luke got me to renovate one of these boxes, and one of the 4 bass versions as used by the Wypers, and he used both on the recording.   His comment was that the Hannah box with its 24 bass was over heavy on the left hand, both in actual weight, and musically.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 11:29:23 AM by Theo »
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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ocajun

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2014, 04:28:43 PM »

Just watched the Youtube clip and I would certainly be interested. Looks and sounds great and I'd vote for it being worth restoring. I'm guessing it would be slightly expensive?

Rod
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Owen Woods

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2015, 02:03:39 PM »

I've always loved these boxes but don't have any money :P
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matt vrs

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2015, 07:18:17 PM »

Off topic but following the thread, I've just heard the Luke Daniels William Hannah album is out, I'm excited about it.
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Theo

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2015, 08:07:14 PM »

I'm looking forward to hearing that too.  Luke is doing a house concert here this Sunday so I expect he will have the albums with him.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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matt vrs

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2015, 07:21:41 PM »

Just got my copy of the album, fantastic, I like everything about it.  The restored boxes sound excellent and distinctive and they seem to play beautifully, so congratulations to the restorer as well, worth the effort I think.

I would have enjoyed reading more about the research etc that went into this project in the CD booklet, but perhaps the music speaks for itself.

If anyone wants to do a Peter Wyper tribute album I'd buy that too.
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Peadar

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2019, 07:44:56 AM »

Would that Album be called something like "Tribute to William Hannah"? If so it made the Mire ri Mor (Radio nan Gaidheal) playlist yesterday morning. Set began with "Bonnie Dundee", Morag Domhnallach mentioned that the box was a Wilkinson Excelsior specially restored for the recordings, but she didn't mention it was a BC.
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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2019, 09:17:34 AM »

Off topic but following the thread, I've just heard the Luke Daniels William Hannah album is out, I'm excited about it.

Luke Daniels  Tribute to William Hannah Greentrax CDTRAX379  was released in March 2015

12 tracks: Eightsome Reels * Jigs * Inverness Gathering * Waltzes * Schottische * Highlands/Reels * Dashing White Sergeant * Waltzes * Reels * Boston Two-Step * Strathspeys * Waltzes
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Winston Smith

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Re: Excelsior Wm Hannah BC box
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2019, 10:45:30 AM »

Begs the question; "What did you eventually do with it, Theo?" (Or is it still squeezed onto one of your shelves?)
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