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Author Topic: Bass reed layouts in the 1920s - early 1930s Baldoni Irish-American accordions  (Read 575 times)

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pgroff

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Hi all,

We've often discussed the Irish-American accordions here, including those sold by Baldoni-Bartoli & Co, NY in the 1920s and 1930s. (Others were sold by Walters, Superior, Butti, etc and a search of this forum will bring up multiple discussion threads for each of those labels, in addition to general discussions). Some of them were made to very high standards of quality for professional use, and reflected innovations in materials and design as well as wonderful workmanship.

Some of the parts for these boxes were imported from Europe (and complete instruments in some cases), but some instruments seem to have been assembled, completed, or at least decorated in New York.  Almost every individual Irish-American Baldoni-Bartoli accordion that we've found from the early years (late 1920s to early 1930s)  has some unique features - no two are exactly alike.  In addition to the customized engraving, and the choices of voicing and button layout to suit each customer, the makers seem to have been experimenting with different types of action and other subtle design features. Few of them are marked with serial numbers or dates, and even when dates are present they may not always reflect the initial construction (they may be dates of a re-sale or repair). So those of us who are interested in their history are usually tentative in assigning dates to them. Oral history and photographs help. But mainly we rely on trends in a variety of constructional features, which enable us to roughly organize them into groups. This is a very approximate classification because it's probable that there was a lot of chronological overlap - at any one time there were probably a variety of different "types" of boxes for sale at the Baldoni-Bartoli shop, based on what was available to them and to cater to various tastes of the customers.

A newly discovered Baldoni brought to mind something that I've often noticed: the layout of the bass and chord reeds can be a great clue - a great "taxonomic character" - in classifying these instruments and moving toward an understanding of who made them, where, and when.

In this thread, over the next few posts, I'll compare the bass reed layout of the "Jack" Baldoni (which has some features intermediate between most of the metal-grille Baldonis and the celluloid-grille Baldonis) with some other instruments. The instruments themselves are currently in my collection except for the Cunningham and McNulty Baldonis. The photo of the McNulty Baldoni is from Ted McGraw*  The photo of the McAleer box is from Ray Dempsey. The photos of the Cunningham box (like the others) are by me.

First, here's the public face of the  "Jack" Baldoni, shown next to the F. Likely box which was probably made earlier.

PG

*http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Mas_Baldoni.html
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 02:38:36 AM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Here are some bass layouts for other Baldonis.

First, the Likely Baldoni and the very similar (but unlabeled) McAleer box.

PG
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pgroff

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Now, Here are the bass reed layouts from two Baldonis that may possibly have been made a little later, the McNulty box and the Cunningham box.

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pgroff

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Next, here are the bass reed layouts of the "Jack" Baldoni and the J.J. Dwyer Baldoni.

Both these instruments are unrestored at present.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 07:03:57 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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OK friends, see a match?

BTW, more photos of all these boxes (except the recently discovered "Jack" box) can be found on Ted McGraw's pages, as well as in other discussions here on melodeon.net:

http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Mas_Baldoni.html
http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Baldoni_-_White.html
http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Baldoni_-_Black.html


 ;)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 07:06:04 PM by pgroff »
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hickory-wind

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Here are pics of a one row Butti & Son in D -most likely made by Walters. It has two bass buttons. Its aluminum 'soundboard' is stamped 805 with matching 805 hand written on the interior. Probably later than what you are looking for Paul. What is your guess on its date?

Scott

BellingersButtonBoxes.com
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 07:54:08 PM by hickory-wind »
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too many boxes...please buy one, or two, or

pgroff

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Hi Scott,

Interesting, but as you know, that box is not a "1920s - early 1930s Baldoni" as specified in the topic subject and OP.

There are some general similarities to early Baldonis in the construction of the postwar Walters / Superior / Butti boxes - but those similarities don't help us classify and date the 1920s - early 1930s Baldonis.

I thought about starting a more general topic about bass reed layouts in the "Instrument Design, Construction, and Repair" subforum, but here was my thought:

My particular interest here is to identify particular Models (or clustered "types") of the early Baldonis, so it should go in the "Makes and Models" subforum.

Maybe we should start a general topic on bass reed layouts in that other subforum?

Re: your Butti (maybe made by Superior / Umbriaco?), We have few numbers correlated with confirmed dates. We do know that Walters No. 754 was sold in 1950. Your Butti is probably mid 1950s or late 1950s. Shake it!

Best,

PG
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 08:04:12 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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mory

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Cunningham and Jack?
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pgroff

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Hi mory,

We have a winner! As with the Likely / McAleer pair, the Cunningham and "Jack" boxes have that resemblance in bass reed layout.

The photo of the "Jack" box's bass reeds looks a little different because of its shallower folds of the bellows (which I think were replaced at some point).  The other 5 boxes have bellows with deep folds and most of those deep-fold bellows, or maybe all of them, are probably the originals.

In some other ways the Cunningham box is closer to the Likely & McAleer boxes. And in some ways the "Jack" box has features in common with the later celluloid-grille Baldonis.


PG


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mory

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Do you think the keyboard is original on the Jack box Paul or just a transition box, with the cream colour it almost looks out of place, having seen the pics of the "usual" black box and black keyboard combination. AtB mory
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 10:33:38 AM by mory »
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pgroff

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Hi mory,

I think the "Jack's" keyboard is original (both the housing and the top keyboard plate). The keyboard plate is exactly fitted to the housing, and the housing is fitted just right to the body with the same bluish/grey/green celluloid running around it. All looks proper. On the other hand, this is an example of a box whose keyboard plate was probably replaced or reworked:

http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Mas_Baldoni.html

You're right that some later Irish-American boxes often have the keyboard plate color-matched to the rest of the box, but not always. You do see white keyboards in conjunction with grey, black, or colored celluloid even in the early years. For example this box that I've only seen from Ted's webpage:

http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Baldoni_-_White_files/FinnertyBB1.jpg

But the treble buttons on "Jack" may not be original. Could be that those original treble buttons were the screw-center type, like the 2 bass buttons.  There's also some irregularity to the holes around the buttons suggesting re-working.

Many of the players (as today) did prefer the larger buttons with no screws, so that would have been a plausible modification.  Baldoni-Bartoli boxes that (I think) were made just after this, with celluloid grilles, were made from new with those larger flat buttons without screws through the top.

The grille ("gallery") of the Jack box is unusually nice for a metal-grille Baldoni  I'm sure it was made just for this instrument and is original. I don't think I've seen this pattern on a Baldoni before, but still it looked familiar to me - because its design elements are those seen in some PA grilles used by Paolo Soprani and others:

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/opMAAOSwjRpZSWoF/s-l1600.jpg

http://www.baldoni.com/P1010047.JPG



« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 03:12:51 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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The grille ("gallery") of the Jack box is unusually nice for a metal-grille Baldoni  I'm sure it was made just for this instrument and is original. I don't think I've seen this pattern on a Baldoni before, but still it looked familiar to me - because its design elements are those seen in some PA grilles used by Paolo Soprani and others:

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/opMAAOSwjRpZSWoF/s-l1600.jpg

http://www.baldoni.com/P1010047.JPG

It may be worth mentioning that I have an undated 1920's Baldoni, Bartoli illustrated catalogue that lists only Paolo Soprani accordions - so they evidently did a lot of business together...
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triskel

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Re: Bass reed layouts in the 1920s - 1930s Baldoni Irish-American accordions
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 03:42:14 PM »

Next, here are the bass reed layouts of the "Jack" Baldoni and the J.J. Dwyer Baldoni.

I got photos of my old Baldoni last night, showing that it has the bass reedblocks set up similarly to the J. J. Dwyer box - which it has other similarities to, and is probably contemporary with.
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pgroff

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Re: Bass reed layouts in the 1920s - 1930s Baldoni Irish-American accordions
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 05:24:01 PM »

Next, here are the bass reed layouts of the "Jack" Baldoni and the J.J. Dwyer Baldoni.

I got photos of my old Baldoni last night, showing that it has the bass reedblocks set up similarly to the J. J. Dwyer box - which it has other similarities to, and is probably contemporary with.

Hi triskel,

I agree! Very similar except in color and a couple of decorative details. In my opinion, your (former) box should be classified with the J. J. Dwyer box and other similar ones (flags on the keyboard, celluloid grille where present, decorated celluloid rectangular plate on the top of the keyboard flanked by two additional separate pieces). Ted has classified your former one with the other "white" Baldonis, but those other early white / yellow pearl Baldonis have flags on the front of the casework and metal grilles, and usually screw-center buttons.

IMO the Radiotone Baldoni and the early black Carmody 1-row Baldoni (shown in the photo with Gene Kelly) are intermediate between the metal-grille Baldonis and the J. J. Dwyer box etc. The Radiotone for example has a single black celluloid plate on top of the keyboard.

The gorgeous Cleary Baldoni that just sold on ebay was also similar to yours and to the J. J. Dwyer box, except for the more complex keyboard profile. Thus it's closer to my black 13 key Baldoni and the white or yellow Jack Murphy box.

PG

« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 05:27:29 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: Bass reed layouts in the 1920s - 1930s Baldoni Irish-American accordions
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 12:31:35 AM »

Ted has classified your former one with the other "white" Baldonis, but those other early white / yellow pearl Baldonis have flags on the front of the casework and metal grilles, and usually screw-center buttons.

Yes, on accordion-fashion grounds (the shape of the name-plate frame on the front of the treble casing and the "indicator") I reckoned mine was probably from the 1933-5 era.

Quote
The gorgeous Cleary Baldoni that just sold on ebay was also similar to yours and to the J. J. Dwyer box, except for the more complex keyboard profile. Thus it's closer to my black 13 key Baldoni and the white or yellow Jack Murphy box.

I had to go hunting for that auction because (being limited to US sale only) it had never shown up in my searches. WOW, what a price it went for!  :o

And very similar to my old one, only in much better condition...
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