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Author Topic: C. T. Menze, A. Engelmann, H. Engelmann, and other St. Louis accordion makers  (Read 2707 times)

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pgroff

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Hi all,

Several members here have posted about the C.T. Menze and Engelmann accordions made in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Another name sometimes seen is D. Steinmann.

I've often seen these instruments over the years and recently decided to get one to study and possibly restore.

I suggest that we pool our knowledge and post  / link it here.  I'll be messaging those who have posted previously, asking all to  add photos and links  to this thread. Some photos linked in the past are no longer visible due to web-hosting changes.

I'll also link those earlier melnet threads.

But first, here's a link to a lovely soundfile of a C. T. Menze instrument. What a poignant and beautiful sound, and lovely tuning. If I interpret the source correctly, I think this is a recording of Amos Parrott (1895-1990), not just music learned from him:

http://poemblaze.tumblr.com/post/26560892654/amosmusic

Link found here:

http://www.reyesforo.com/search?userid=1942705&do=findposts&action=doSearch

Earlier relevant melnet threads:


http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,738

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,13386

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,13837

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,14984

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,15663


PG

« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 01:13:42 AM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Here are some pics of H. Engelmann No. 119 and its case and loose buttons. This instrument is octave tuned, LM (sometimes called "bandoneon voicing"), in D/G, around A=446 in non-equal-tempered tuning. Scale starts on button #2. Not all notes are sounding but in general it's very close to my "Society of Arts pitch" concertinas ca 1870s, which are also in non-ET and around A 446.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 11:02:37 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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H. Engelmann No. 119;  name stamp on the pallet cover. The "H" does look a bit like an "M," but very different from the "M" in "Engelmann."

According to triskel's research (see previous discussions), it's possible that this H. Engelmann is the father of A. Engelmann.

Also: The treble side action. Each pallet opens two airways (and each airway is formed by two drill holes). The pallets for the two rows of buttons are aligned and alternate: first a pallet for an outside row button, then a pallet for an inside row button, etc. The voicing is LM, octave tuned, with no tremelo and no switch or coupler.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 11:03:40 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Reinforcing brace plate (and spring cover) for the keyboard, and the button springs, of H. Engelmann No. 119. This instrument has separate springs for each button (with their attaching screws staggered, possibly to avoid cracking the soundboard or to balance spring tension among buttons of both rows).  So this one may pre-date the A. Engelmann patent that triskel unearthed (see earlier discussions). Also, the interesting bass-side strap design (ribbon strap now broken). Unfortunately I haven't found any hand inscriptions with signature, date, and address in this H. Engelmann instrument, as has been illustrated for at least one A. Engelmann accordion.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 11:04:38 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Reeds of H. Engelmann No. 119. Zinc plates, steel tongues. Possibly the reeds were made locally? Somewhat rough tuning marks, but these may be original as the instrument shows few if any signs of any reworking and only moderate playing wear. The triad reeds are 3 / plate, so each triad plate has reeds for a single bellows direction (press or draw). It could also be possible that this accordion was tuned down from Eb/Ab to D/G at some point after it was made.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 11:05:19 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Here's a C.T. Menze that just finished on ebay. In an earlier discussion I mentioned that I'd seen examples of instruments like these (the Menze / Engelmann type) that just had one row of melody keys, and this is one such:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Squeeze-Box-Accordion-Concertina-Music-Box-C-T-Menze-/232608115373

« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 03:50:14 AM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Some pictures of my 25-key, 8-bass, in E/A that's stamped August J. Engelmann internally, and with an Engelmann/Menze style grille to the soundbox.

Thats not a stop button on top, but a strap button - and there's another one underneath too.

The bellows are bound with leather, the body is veneered in birds-eye maple:
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 07:41:27 PM by triskel »
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triskel

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Steel treble reeds on brass plates.

Rubber-stamped "Aug. J. Engelmann, accordion repairing, 4127a Oregon Ave., St. Louis, MO.":
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 05:31:32 AM by triskel »
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triskel

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Chord reeds on brass plates, bass ones on zinc. There's a bellows lock in there too:
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 12:50:44 AM by triskel »
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pgroff

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Some pictures of my August J. Engelmann 25-key, 8-bass, in E/A.

Thats not a stop button on top, but a strap button - and there's another one underneath too.

The bellows are bound with leather:

Some features of that accordion remind me of the Angelo Ploner instruments made in Trieste:
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,10006

I'm thinking of the bass buttons and keyboard (including the long melody rows), some trim details, air key. . . do you think that Engelmann might have been inspired by a Ploner, or even possibly used parts from one? What's under the pallet cover and how are the melody button levers sprung?

PG
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 11:29:41 AM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Some pictures of my August J. Engelmann 25-key, 8-bass, in E/A.

Some features of that accordion remind me of the Angelo Ploner instruments made in Trieste:
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,10006

I'm thinking of the bass buttons and keyboard (including the long melody rows), some trim details, air key. . . do you think that Engelmann might have been inspired by a Ploner, or even possibly used parts from one? What's under the pallet cover and how are the melody button levers sprung?

I see what you mean Paul, especially in relation to the "restored" wood-finish one from the Croatian site. I'll dig it out and take some more photos...
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triskel

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Here's a C.T. Menze that just finished on ebay. In an earlier discussion I mentioned that I'd seen examples of instruments like these (the Menze / Engelmann type) that just had one row of melody keys, and this is one such:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Squeeze-Box-Accordion-Concertina-Music-Box-C-T-Menze-/232608115373

It's probably just as well I didn't know about that one, or I might have felt compelled to bid on it...  ::)

Never mind, I've got my eye on a very classy Italian piece anyway!  ;)
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pgroff

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Some pictures of my August J. Engelmann 25-key, 8-bass, in E/A.

Some features of that accordion remind me of the Angelo Ploner instruments made in Trieste:
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,10006

I'm thinking of the bass buttons and keyboard (including the long melody rows), some trim details, air key. . . do you think that Engelmann might have been inspired by a Ploner, or even possibly used parts from one? What's under the pallet cover and how are the melody button levers sprung?

I see what you mean Paul, especially in relation to the "restored" wood-finish one from the Croatian site. I'll dig it out and take some more photos...

My 3 row Angelo Ploner is also similar, as is the "Steirische" one on this page:

http://www.accordeonparfait.com/accordeons-diato-collection.html

and the one played by Nina Volk here (and in many other images that google will pull up):

https://farm1.static.flickr.com/687/20001183383_8ac26a8694_b.jpg

My A. Ploner and G. Ploner boxes have unusual angled springs mounted externally on the soundboard (under the metal pallet-covers) -- so, if your Engelmann is a modified Ploner, and if its soundboard hasn't been replaced, either the springs or many holes from them may be visible under the perforated wooden pallet cover that's present now.

PG
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pgroff

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Here's a C.T. Menze that just finished on ebay. In an earlier discussion I mentioned that I'd seen examples of instruments like these (the Menze / Engelmann type) that just had one row of melody keys, and this is one such:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Squeeze-Box-Accordion-Concertina-Music-Box-C-T-Menze-/232608115373

It's probably just as well I didn't know about that one, or I might have felt compelled to bid on it...  ::)

Never mind, I've got my eye on a very classy Italian piece anyway!  ;)

It went a bit high IMO, but the 1-row examples seem a little rarer than the 2-row ones!

PG
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 11:56:56 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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. . . do you think that Engelmann might have been inspired by a Ploner, or even possibly used parts from one? What's under the pallet cover and how are the melody button levers sprung?

You're right, well caught Paul!

This is what's "under the hood":
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triskel

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Whilst there's the shadow of a metal soundbox on the soundboard too, which was evidently replaced much later by Engelmann with the present wooden one:
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pgroff

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Classic Ploner.

BTW, the G. Ploner (marbled celluloid finish) in my photo of 2 boxes has Dix reeds (aluminum plates). I  I forget what's in my A. Ploner. I think you mentioned that your A. Engelmann (/Ploner) has Dix reeds. The so-called "Steirische" box in the link I posted above (which I think is another Ploner) is said to have reedplates marked with a sun - so perhaps by Sonntag.

PG
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triskel

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Classic Ploner.

Maybe brought to St. Louis by an immigrant from the Trieste region of Italy, Slovenia or Croatia then, and repaired/had the soundbox replaced by Engelmann there?

Whatever it is, it's a gorgeous box!

Quote
... I think you mentioned that your A. Engelmann (/Ploner) has Dix reeds. ...

No, that must be somebody else's. Mine has steel reeds on brass plates that are stamped with an X.
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pgroff

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Classic Ploner.

Maybe brought to St. Louis by an immigrant from the Trieste region of Italy, Slovenia or Croatia then, and repaired/had the soundbox replaced by Engelmann there?

Whatever it is, it's a gorgeous box!

Quote
... I think you mentioned that your A. Engelmann (/Ploner) has Dix reeds. ...

No, that must be somebody else's. Mine has steel reeds on brass plates that are stamped with an X.

Sorry, the one with Dix reeds was A. J. Walker's, discussed in this thread:
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,14984

And re: "Gorgeous box," yes, I like the Ploners too. Too bad mine are in such rough shape (woodwork for the G. Ploner and reeds for the A. Ploner). I've had my eye out for a really good one but they're not common in the US.

PG
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triskel

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The so-called "Steirische" box in the link I posted above (which I think is another Ploner) ...

It seems to have a lot of similarities to mine (only it isn't as fancy) including (filled) screwholes in one of the the reedblocks for the bellows lock receiver.
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