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Author Topic: Antique Paolo Soprani  (Read 844 times)

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Bill Young

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Antique Paolo Soprani
« on: March 15, 2017, 07:28:51 PM »

Last night I had the opportunity to play a piece of history. A visitor to the Renfrew Accordion and Fiddle Club brought along a single row Paolo Soprani which he said dated from 1870. He had a copy of a page from a book or website with a photo of an identical box which gave the date as 1870. I didn't get the origin of his document.
What had me wondering was the label in the window on the front, which said "Comm. Paolo Soprani e figli" (~Sir Paolo Soprani and sons). Does anyone with a greater knowledge of Paolo Soprani (the man rather than the company) know the date when he was made a Commendatore (Knight)? Googling hasn't helped so far.

havaLaff

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 08:04:53 PM »

 In 1870 I'd think he would be rather young(aged 25) to have been knighted. Maybe I'm wrong.
 So that box is not as old as the one on the page.
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Bill Young

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 09:22:45 PM »

That's pretty much what I thought. According to this Paolo Soprani history the Castelfidardo factory was opened in 1872. I'd still like to know when the Commendatore dates from.

Malcolm Clapp

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 10:33:34 PM »

I had always assumed that "Comm." was an abbreviation for "Commerciale", meaning a business, rather than for "Commendatore", but I could be totally wrong.

(Incidentally, the Paolo Soprani history link above is being flagged by my antivirus (AVG) as a threat; probably a false positive, but take care when using).
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Bill Young

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 11:16:48 PM »

"Comm." in this case is definitely the honorific "Commendatore". I'm expecting to find a date in the 1890s or 1900s for his getting the title.

I'm not getting any potential virus warnings about that Italian site using different machines and browsers.

penn

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2017, 11:32:09 PM »

I have some snaps from a Castelfidardo museum visit 2 years ago, and these are some Paolo examples with dated cards. I would assume that these are accurately dated.
Apologies, but the quality isn't great as i was shooting through glass and snapping a little at random, so it's hard to see some detail. The label on yours looks a bit like the one on the their 1925 Chromatica example (and there's a "Comm." in the poster behind it). The 1872 one in the museum has no label, and the museum's one from 1905 has the white piano style keys, but a different label (maybe no "comms"? It's hard to see).
But I don't think it proves much to without a better knowledge of Paolo Soprani history.
I think I posted my picture album at the time, which has a lot of similarly random snaps of beautiful and crazy old boxes. Ah yes .. here
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,17549.msg215458.html#msg215458, and the pictures are still up there.
Steve
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triskel

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 11:35:37 PM »

I can confirm the title because the medal hanging from its red/white/red ribbon around Paolo Soprani's neck, in the artist's portrait of him, is that of the Order of the Crown of Italy, awarded for meritorious service or achievement.

In fact, I'd suspect this painted portrait was probably commissioned in celebration of the award...
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penn

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2017, 11:57:17 PM »

this is my photo of the painting of him wearing a medal (I think this is the one you mean Stephen? ) and again there's a card by the side. My italian is as poor as my photography skills, but there are some dates mentioned and at least one refers to a medal of some sort? maybe? (but he is wearing two medals).
Steve
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triskel

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 12:00:41 AM »

Indeed the medal of a cross, on a green/red/green ribbon, on his chest would suggest another title too, that of the Order of Merit for Labour. Only that wasn't established until 5 years after his death, and it should have been the different medal and ribbon of its predecessor, the Ordine al Merito Agrario, Industriale e Commerciale (founded in 1901), in his lifetime...  ???

Could it have been added later?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 12:25:51 AM by triskel »
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Malcolm Clapp

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2017, 12:05:46 AM »

I knew that he had received an Italian honour; just didn't connect the word "Comm." on the labels with that.
So learned something new today! Hooray   :D
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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2017, 01:53:49 AM »

Here are some of my old ones. I have more...

Will be for sale eventually.

  Scott

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triskel

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2017, 04:03:59 AM »

Last night I had the opportunity to play a piece of history. A visitor to the Renfrew Accordion and Fiddle Club brought along a single row Paolo Soprani which he said dated from 1870. He had a copy of a page from a book or website with a photo of an identical box which gave the date as 1870. I didn't get the origin of his document.

Coming back to your original question Bill, I think the book or website in question doesn't have a clue about the date. I have Paolo Soprani catalogues going back as early as 1897 (no mention of "Comm." there!), but mostly from the 1920s onwards, and the model in your photo was definitely still being made in the '20s - in fact it's No. 1 in the catalogue, their most basic model, costing all of $8.00!

Nor are they rare. I've got two of them (and could have bought more), whilst there's another in the window of a pub just down the street from me, as an ornament - poor thing!  :(
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Bill Young

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2017, 08:53:09 AM »

Thanks Stephen, that's good to know. I was beginning to wonder if I'd seen a hybrid - the general look of the thing, with its paddle keys and style of decoration, could easily have been pre-1900, but the label, with "Comm.", "Figli", and depictions of many medals, presumably from exhibitions, must be from when Paolo Soprani was a well-established, successful company.

Anyway, the brief experience playing a single row has given me the notion of maybe getting one, not having played one since my father's, 60 years ago. (But probably not one of that vintage!).

Stiamh

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2017, 12:20:44 PM »

this is my photo of the painting of him wearing a medal (I think this is the one you mean Stephen? ) and again there's a card by the side. My italian is as poor as my photography skills, but there are some dates mentioned and at least one refers to a medal of some sort? maybe? (but he is wearing two medals).
Steve

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triskel

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2017, 04:50:07 AM »

Thanks Stephen, that's good to know. I was beginning to wonder if I'd seen a hybrid - the general look of the thing, with its paddle keys and style of decoration, could easily have been pre-1900 ...

Here's an engraving of one somewhat like it on the cover of a French-language catalogue, folded-up and posted from Castelfidardo on 28th January 1897 (but a stamp collector seems to have got to it before I did - it's a good job they franked it twice!  :o):



Only, inside this catalogue the 10-key models is listed as N. 2 because there's an even cheaper 9-key version of it as N. 1:



My next catalogue is one, printed in Italy, for Paolo Soprani's New York representatives and concessionaires Ditta Prof. Pietro Forte & Co., which appears to date from the late 1920s. Here the model is N. 1 (the cheapest) priced at $8.00:



And it has the same model number (priced Lira 85) in my next catalogue, which is a full Paolo Soprani factory one from about 1930:



Finally a French Paolo Soprani catalogue from the early-to-mid 1930s still lists a few old-style models with the spade-shaped keys, but the cheapest model in it (at Francs 175 on the enclosed, updated, 1937 price list) is N. 200, a 10-key with 4 basses:


Quote
... but the label, with "Comm.", "Figli", and depictions of many medals, presumably from exhibitions, must be from when Paolo Soprani was a well-established, successful company.

Their catalogues from the 1920s/'30s seem to place great emphasis on Paolo Soprani having been a "Cavaliere al Merito del Lavoro"/"Chevalier au mérite du travail":



And in displaying his, and the firm's, numerous awards and medals:



« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 02:26:11 PM by triskel »
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Bill Young

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2017, 09:26:30 AM »

Thanks Stephen. Seems that model was around for a long time. In the last catalogue, mid-1930s, its just possible to discern that the badge has changed from the earlier ones.

triskel

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2017, 01:26:59 PM »

Thanks Stephen. Seems that model was around for a long time. In the last catalogue, mid-1930s, its just possible to discern that the badge has changed from the earlier ones.

Whilst in the 1890's catalogue the window for the label is much narrower.
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Bill Young

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2017, 09:30:42 PM »

The drawings in the 1890s catalogue are rather unconvincing wrt scale, but I'm sure the one I saw is later, because of the information on the label.
It's interesting that different prices were offered for reeds waxed in or screwed on leather.

triskel

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Re: Antique Paolo Soprani
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2017, 09:52:18 PM »

Oh yes, I was just pointing to a significant difference in that area Bill. The label of the one in your photos looks to be the same as in the late-20's and circa 1930 catalogues, but I can't say how early they were using that because I haven't yet found any PS catalogues from the 1900-1925 era - but I'm always looking.

Indeed, that 1890's catalogue was a remarkably early one to turn up...  (:)
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