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Author Topic: early cheap / toy / doll's accordion?  (Read 1134 times)

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pgroff

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early cheap / toy / doll's accordion?
« on: February 16, 2018, 12:27:38 PM »

Hi all,

Any thoughts on this one?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-grain-painted-miniature-accordion-grain-painted-Maine-AAFA/132502907017

I'd say from the materials and style it looks like it might be a mid-19th century (or earlier?) copy of a Demian (or Viennese type) accordion of the early 19th century, but this one was made in much simpler / cheaper materials, perhaps made as a toy. The nails may be evidence of a later repair as the wooden soundboard also appears to be glued to the bellows frames. No mechanism or air openings on what we think of as the "bass side" (in this case, probably the "bottom side"), i.e. opposite the keyboard end of the instrument.

Interested to see if it might have been made in America - the primitive red /black wood graining was used in the US at that time.

Bazin (in Canton Massachusetts) who invented some original free-reed instruments and built some in very high quality* evidently also made some cheaper instruments. He made some instruments influenced by the earliest European accordion designs - including some small accordions  (in January 1835, sold in Boston,  "resembling the [European] instruments only in the form of the bellows"**). And there were a number of makers of lap organs / rocking melodeons in New England who might also have made a cheap quality instrument at that time.  But possibly this one is a European import ?



PG

*(must copy and past entire link here):
http://www.mfa.org/collections/search?f[0]=field_artists%253Afield_artist%3A4902


** Musical World and New York Musical Times, April 9, 1853, p. 228.

« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 12:06:01 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2018, 02:36:30 PM »

Hi Paul,

It's hard to know what to make of some small, relatively early, accordions like this one, and I regret not having bid enough on one that turned up on this side of the Atlantic a year or so ago. I've some that I'll dig out and photograph, and a poor image of a Bazin too.

But my simple answer is that this one looks like a German toy to me - that imitation rosewood wood-graining was very common on cheap German instruments, the "nails" (or "tacks" maybe?) are positioned where I might expect to see screws on one, and only four melody keys, on an external axle, all say "toy" to me.

Only it appears to have a "mutation" key on the far end of the keyboard, which suggests "early"...
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pgroff

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2018, 02:49:21 PM »

Hi triskel,

Thanks for your insights. I have never seen a Bazin accordion but I remember you mentioned photos of one.

Agree entirely that this one looks cheap. But also early. Not only is there the mutation key, but also the absence of any mechanism on the bottom side, and the few keys, suggest that it's the very early instruments that are being copied. I suspect the keys play chords, not single notes.  The (steel?) key/spring mechanism is crude, but the sort of thing that was done with much simpler and cheaper materials later on. And the bellows and "book like" bottom side of the instrument, though simple, are finished with very early-appearing materials, really reminding me of binding materials on some of my early 19th century books.

So I was thinking this could have been part of a small production run of cheap, early, US-made instruments.

If it were European made, I'd guess that these toys might be familiar on your side?

PG
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 02:51:31 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2018, 02:53:31 PM »

In the meantime, here's a pertinent old post revisted, and from the last thread we discussed Bazin in:

... I'll start with a listing of accordions available to American youths (like the presumably Irish-American one in the engraving) from The Youth's Companion, published in Boston on (by an astonishing coincidence  :o) this very day in 1880;






and here are photos of the most similar early models from my collection, as a group;



and in catalogue order:









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pgroff

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2018, 02:55:06 PM »

Thanks!  Am I right though that all of these examples illustrated in your last post have keys for "basses," and/or "air keys" on the side of the instrument opposite the main keyboard?
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 03:20:58 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2018, 03:23:43 PM »

Thanks!  Am I right though that all of these examples illustrated in your last post have bass or air keys on the side of the instrument opposite the main keyboard?

They all have a growlbox, so they have both, but they do exhibit imitation rosewood wood-graining and screws (in the same locations as the "nails" in your one) holding the treble side on, whilst the cheapest has only 6-keys - though that would be a lot more use than only four...

"The one that got away" also had no growlbox, but it did have a pair of bass keys on the side (though evidently wrongly re-assembled), nor did it have a wind key:







« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 12:19:14 AM by triskel »
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2018, 03:29:04 PM »

If it were European made, I'd guess that these toys might be familiar on your side?

They'd be as rare as hen's teeth - having been (generally) destroyed by children a century-and-a-half ago.

Aeolinas are also extremely rare because (as I formerly speculated, but now have evidence for) they found their way into toy shops once the initial fashion for them had passed...  :(
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 11:47:14 PM by triskel »
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pgroff

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2018, 03:49:06 PM »

Thanks!  Am I right though that all of these examples illustrated in your last post have bass or air keys on the side of the instrument opposite the main keyboard?

They all have a growlbox, so they have both, but they do exhibit imitation rosewood wood-graining and screws holding the treble side on, whilst the cheapest has only 6-keys - though that would be a lot more use than only four...

"The one that got away" also had no growlbox, though it did have a pair of bass keys on the side (though evidently misassembled), nor did it have a wind key:








That example is really cool.

Love the way each button lever of the melody keyboard seems to have a pallet directly attached, so that the holes for the pallets are right next to the holes for the buttons. (similar to a common mechanism of bass / chord keys on a growlbox, when the touches are buttons rather than spoons!)

The general construction of bellows and frames is somewhat similar to the recent ebay example, but doesn't look like part of the same "product line" or at least the same time period - different aspects of the cosmetics are emphasized as well as different designs for the mechanism.

PG
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 03:53:05 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2018, 06:52:51 PM »

... I have never seen a Bazin accordion but I remember you mentioned photos of one.

I've started a fresh thread, with Bazin accordion photos Paul: James Amireaux Bazin - first American accordion maker c.1835
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2018, 10:54:15 PM »


That example is really cool.

Love the way each button lever of the melody keyboard seems to have a pallet directly attached, so that the holes for the pallets are right next to the holes for the buttons. (similar to a common mechanism of bass / chord keys on a growlbox, when the touches are buttons rather than spoons!)

The general construction of bellows and frames is somewhat similar to the recent ebay example, but doesn't look like part of the same "product line" or at least the same time period - different aspects of the cosmetics are emphasized as well as different designs for the mechanism.

It reminds me of a couple of post-Demian Viennese designs from 1840 - that of Simon;


and also Steinkelner;


The decoration on it, and on the Steinkelner, has a rather faux "Chinese lacquer" look to it that may be linked to instruments described as "Chinesischer" in old sources. Indeed the Steinkelner's keyboard has a distincly "pagoda-like" look to it too...
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2018, 05:29:38 AM »

I've saved photos of the eBay 4-key + mutation accordion, or nobody will have a clue what this thread is about when that auction vanishes from there:








There are some obvious similarities to "the one that got away", like the way the base of the instrument is made, and they both have painted decoration. But the painting on the one under discussion is more in a "German folk art" style (as they still are sometimes today), rather than Chinoiserie.

The keywork reminds me somewhat of Müller's 1839 model in this picture, only it's cruder:


More like the one at top left in this illustration from Walter Maurer's book Accordion (p.55) - even down to having an external axle it would seem (but ignore his fanciful date ::)):


« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 12:21:26 AM by triskel »
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pgroff

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 12:03:09 PM »

Thanks triskel! 

And thanks for all your insights on this thread. I actually bought this item because it was unusual and fairly cheap, and I could imagine the possibility that it might have been made in New England as the seller suggested.

Now that it's here there's no doubt that this is a toy - or maybe rather a prop for a doll or puppet - made in imitation of the musical instruments that you illustrated in your last post. Very very small and light.  Laurent Jarry also confirmed that it's made in Europe. And nothing to do with Demian's models - I had jumped to that speculation because Demian's similarly had few keys and no mechanism on the front of the side opposite the keyboard. Maybe I'll edit the title of the thread.

It might be difficult to get it apart without damaging it, because the end is glued as well as nailed to the bellows frames, so I'll add it to the historical collection unless someone I know wants it for her doll. :)

PG
« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 12:05:21 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: early cheap copy of Demian accordion?
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2018, 02:21:22 PM »

I actually bought this item because it was unusual and fairly cheap, and I could imagine the possibility that it might have been made in New England as the seller suggested.

I'm glad to hear you bought it, I'd have grabbed it myself if I'd seen it, whilst it's hardly surprising if it has rather a "Pennsylvania Dutch" (for anyone reading this who doesn't know, "Dutch" = "Deutsch" = "German" in this context) appearance because those settlers brought their "German folk art" decoration to the New World with them.

Quote
It might be difficult to get it apart without damaging it, because the end is glued as well as nailed to the bellows frames ...

That sounds like a crude repair. I'd say there were probably round-headed screws holding the end on originally, but they'd have been into thin softwood and would have stripped the threads in the wood very quickly.

Quote
... I'll add it to the historical collection unless someone I know wants it for her doll. :)

I'd consider it worthy of being added to the historical collection, after all it's still representative of an early type, and could well be 180 years old...
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pgroff

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Re: early cheap / toy / doll's accordion?
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2018, 12:08:03 PM »

Point taken (I should have clarified that the doll owner I had in mind is an adult with some very old dolls, and European puppets too)

  :)

 
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