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Author Topic: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons  (Read 2809 times)

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Winston Smith

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History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« on: September 04, 2015, 01:05:02 PM »

I'm entirely new to the melodeon, and I've got one of these, a one row (in D, I think) to which I have developed an extraordinary attachment. I'm busy trawling through this particular board looking for any info, and it's been great fun, so far.
This morning, I came across this statement "Stephen Chambers wrote here that he has been collaborating on a history of these boxes" and wondered if anyone can tell me more? Has Mr Chambers completed his history, has he published it anywhere on the 'net (or this site?), in short; is it available anywhere for interested parties such as myself to have a look at?
Thanks for any help,
Edward.
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2015, 01:18:29 PM »

Stephen Chambers signs himself as Triskel on this forum. If you search by that name his every post will come up.
Hope this helps.
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triskel

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2015, 07:07:08 PM »

I'm entirely new to the melodeon, and I've got one of these, a one row (in D, I think) to which I have developed an extraordinary attachment. I'm busy trawling through this particular board looking for any info, and it's been great fun, so far.
This morning, I came across this statement "Stephen Chambers wrote here that he has been collaborating on a history of these boxes" and wondered if anyone can tell me more? Has Mr Chambers completed his history, has he published it anywhere on the 'net (or this site?), in short; is it available anywhere for interested parties such as myself to have a look at?

Hi Edward,

I developed a great interest in the old International melodeons myself because I found them to be exceptionally good, and then discovered that, under various brand names, they were generally considered the very best available (internationally) in their day, from the 1890s up until the factory closed, about 1933.

A proposal for a book was put to me, but it's very hard to find much information at all about them (or any other private Eastern-German manufacturing firms - the old Communist GDR government having destroyed pretty-much all evidence of such "decadence"  >:( ) - so I'm still actively collecting examples of their products, from which to try to learn what they were doing.

I'm afraid it may keep me occupied for many years to come...  :(
« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 12:57:13 AM by triskel »
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Theo

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 07:57:58 PM »

As it happens I've just bought one off eBay for the vast sum of £8.50. It's a two voice 10 button in C.  Somewhat battered, but I think it will play again.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 08:32:23 PM by Theo »
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Winston Smith

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 10:03:39 PM »

An expensive one then, Theo. (Or did that include the postage?)

Thanks for your reply Mr Triskel. I don't suppose that you have any inkling of whenabouts they produced a one row with an additional (purely decorative) stop, do you?

I find it a shame that these instruments are disparaged so on here. Although I am a newbie of the first, uneducated, degree; mine sounds very pleasant, even when I play it.
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2015, 12:54:07 AM »

As it happens I've just bought one off eBay for the vast sum of £8.50. It's a two voice 10 button in C.  Somewhat battered, but I think it will play again.

That's only 'cos I haven't had an internet connection of my own for a few months Theo - but I finally managed to get one of Tesco's "dongle" thingies this week (and fibre-optic broadband is supposed to be "coming here soon"), so you might get a bit of competition on the next one!  :P
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triskel

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2015, 01:23:32 AM »

I don't suppose that you have any inkling of whenabouts they produced a one row with an additional (purely decorative) stop, do you?

Firstly, seeing that a 2-voice melodeon can only be played either on the "concert pitch" set of reeds alone, or on that set plus the (sharp-tuned) "tremolo" set, it is normal for there to be either no stop, or (commonly) a dummy stop, on the "concert pitch" set, and that applies to pretty-much ALL German-style models.

From what I can see in your avatar picture, your £7 bargain melodeon is one of the good ones, made between the late 1890s and 1933, and could be made into a very nice instrument. The earlier International ones (going back to the 1870s) are nothing-like as good.

Quote
I find it a shame that these instruments are disparaged so on here.

The International ones, and brands such as the Globe "Gold Medal" that they also made, are certainly not disparaged - in fact they are thought (by those of us who like the old boxes) very highly of.

But the vast majority of old melodeons were very cheaply made, and were sold very cheaply too. They were virtually of "toy" quality and were considered "disposable" in their day - and those models are deservedly disparaged by players...  :(
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2015, 03:52:30 AM »

Thanks for taking the time to reply with that useful info. I do appreciate it.
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David J

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2018, 01:45:27 PM »


The International ones, and brands such as the Globe "Gold Medal" that they also made, are certainly not disparaged - in fact they are thought (by those of us who like the old boxes) very highly of.

But the vast majority of old melodeons were very cheaply made, and were sold very cheaply too. They were virtually of "toy" quality and were considered "disposable" in their day - and those models are deservedly disparaged by players...  :(

I was given this one by a friend (it features commemorative 'medals' celebrating the coronation of Edward VII) and attempted to restore it. The big problem was the peculiar 'double-sided' arrangement of pallets and the flimsy actuating mechanism which was embedded in the keyboard. Attempting to replace a couple of springs caused the whole thing to break apart, so I don't think it was ever made to be repaired. A shame, because the reeds have a nice wheezy squeak to them. Anyway, it makes a pretty ornament on my storage shelves.
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Winston Smith

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2018, 06:46:25 PM »

But that's a "Universal", David, not an "International".
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Peadar

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2020, 11:42:59 PM »

I became interested in  "International" Accordeons after reading  this and other threads on these instruments. Initially my interest was focussed on The German Pattern,  19 key chromatic  instruments, with open pallets and spoon basses, as played by the Whyper Brothers. While  I was looking for one of these I came across and bought a Vienna type 2 row with 6 basses.

This box is in A&D, tuned to A=435, The reeds are brass on zince plates, with the Dix "O" mark on them & the reedblocks on the treble end are removable. The gaskets are leather and appear to be original.

It was originally sold by J. Lile of 229 Bute Road Cardiff.Recorded as a Musical Insrument Dealer in local directories from around 1900 to 1930. Paul Groff has flagged up a similar accordeon in a French (mail order?) catalogue dated 1903 (also cited in reply 21 below) http://jeanluc.matte.free.fr/catacc, which illustrates a 21key 8 bass and lists a similar 18 treble x 6 bass.

I have found this box unexpectedly air tight- some slight leakage but (up to now) tolerable and (to my ear) plays beautifully. The open key board gives a long (approx 10mm) stroke to the MoP buttons before they bottom  out on their felt underpads. The action is probably a bit heavier than many would choose- it feels more like a manual typwriter than an PC keyboard. But I feel more in control with buttons that  have a sensible spring resistance and move some distance.

The bass machine is all wood and I really like having a box with limited basses..
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 07:39:55 PM by Peadar »
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Theo

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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2020, 11:53:45 PM »

There is one on eBay just now https://www.ebay.de/itm/Akkordeon-Accordion-Ziehharmonika-Schifferklavier-sehr-alt-ca-Bj-1830-Sammler/392620564496?hash=item5b6a026010:g:0m4AAOSwhKZeDkGs

Not branded International but it has the cross keys logo and the Dienst factory name.
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2020, 12:15:09 AM »

There is one on eBay just now https://www.ebay.de/itm/Akkordeon-Accordion-Ziehharmonika-Schifferklavier-sehr-alt-ca-Bj-1830-Sammler/392620564496?hash=item5b6a026010:g:0m4AAOSwhKZeDkGs

Not branded International but it has the cross keys logo and the Dienst factory name.
Looking closely the corner plates are stamped International - which is also the only place my AD carries that word. It is also branded on the fondo both Mark Fabrik and Made in Saxony
I wonder what key it is in?
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2020, 12:41:29 PM »

There is one on eBay just now https://www.ebay.de/itm/Akkordeon-Accordion-Ziehharmonika-Schifferklavier-sehr-alt-ca-Bj-1830-Sammler/392620564496?hash=item5b6a026010:g:0m4AAOSwhKZeDkGs

Not branded International but it has the cross keys logo and the Dienst factory name.

This one may be early enough that the reed tongues are "german silver" (argentan), rather than steel.
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2020, 12:58:09 PM »

It’s also unusual in having one row of buttons, but two rows of pallets. 
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2020, 01:21:22 PM »

It’s also unusual in having one row of buttons, but two rows of pallets. 
Round pallets and an all metal action....
All the Internationals I have seen (like all Hohners) have circular ports in the fondo, rather than square/rectangular. The two rows of pallets in this arrangement lets the port diameter be doubled - giving four times the airway area per hole- so twice the airway obtainable from double holes at normal keyboard spacing

Which begs the question as to what the internal arrangement of the reed blocks/beds may be.
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2020, 01:33:10 PM »

The two rows of pallets in this arrangement lets the port diameter be doubled - giving four times the airway area per hole- so twice the airway obtainable from double holes at normal keyboard spacing
[/quote]

All else being equal I suspect that the crucial factor is the amount of air that passes the reeds,  which will pretty much always be less than can pass through the ports in the fondo, so that within reason the hole size is not going to make much difference.
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2020, 02:34:07 PM »

(Richard) - That's very true.
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2020, 04:26:01 PM »

The buttons and action design are somewhat reminiscent of certain models of Kalbe's Imperial melodeons.

I think the two rows of staggered pallet holes (each row with 5 pallets) may be intended to keep the size of the entire box small. But I agree it would be interesting to see how the reedblocks are laid out internally. Are there really 3 voices per button or is one of the stops a dummy or a bellows lock or a Vox humana or? 
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Re: History of "International" branded melodeons/accodeons
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2020, 05:05:50 PM »

One of the stops is behind the keyboard,  so I suspect it is something other than a bank or reeds.
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