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Author Topic: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings  (Read 1859 times)

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triskel

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"Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« on: March 27, 2018, 03:30:43 AM »

Streamlining became "all the rage" in the 1930s, in the name of improved performance and efficiency, for railway locomotives/trains, planes, cars, buses and caravans etc., and started to be applied to accordions in the late 1930s - with their decoration also starting to echo such modern Art Deco and technical styles, rather than older, more Roccoco, ones.

I think you only have to look at the style of the front end of this 1936 "coffin nose" Cord



or the lines of this 1937 "Crusader" steam locomotive



to see elements of styling that then got echoed on accordions...

The earliest evidence I've found, from collecting/studying old catalogues, advertisements, accordion magazines, photos and other dated sources, is that coupler switches in the grille, slotted grilles, and body streamlining, appear to have all started with Dallape's 1937 catalogue (which I got a copy of recently). They do not seem to have been found on accordions prior to that date, and must have looked SHOCKINGLY "Modernistic" at the time!  :o

Here are scans of the (relatively basic) "Artist" model Dallape listing from that 1937 catalogue,
including a description of the "Dallape switching mechanism" - perfectly illustrating the "birth" of the modern accordion:


Scandalli followed suit with their 1938 models, first announced in October 1937.

"Exhilarating in its modernity" - The new "Symphony" Scandalli:


(Accordion Times, October 1937)

The new Scandalli Scott Wood '4-Special':


(Accordion Times, November 1937)

Wurlitzer in the U.S. patented a streamlined accordion model of new construction on Oct. 19, 1938: U.S. Patent US2185984

Whilst Settimio Soprani advertised this "Ultra Modern!" high-end "Grand" model in 1939:


(Accordion Times, August 1939)

Prior to the introduction of these features, early couplers were levers on the back of the keyboard (though push-in master switches in the keyboard edge might be found on more-expensive models), grilles were ornately fretcut, or stamped out, and accordions were much squarer and sharper in shape.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 07:20:00 AM by triskel »
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Stiamh

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2018, 12:24:41 PM »

Nice post Stephen. I started a topic a few years ago on the echoes between art deco and the curved bodies and parallel ribs on the grille of e.g. Hohner Ericas, complete with pics of cars from the era, but cannot find it now.

pgroff

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2018, 03:11:05 PM »

Great stuff Stephen

I seem to remember early streamlining in Excelsiors (NY) from 1936, but possibly not as rounded as your Dallape example.

PG
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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2018, 03:26:02 PM »

Thanks Stiamh, it's a subject I mention quite often, but Scandalli and Wurlitzer were my earliest reference points until I recently got that fascinating 1937 Dallape catalogue - which has prompted me to post this thread.

Hohner, and the other German makers, lagged behind rather in all this, which seems to have been driven more by the American market and Italian makers. The earliest "fully-streamlined" Hohner that I know of is the "Shand Special" that Venanzio Morino built specially for Jimmy Shand in 1939, and got delivered just before the start of World War 2:


But Hohner were decidedly "after the event" in using those Art Deco "waterfall" grilles on their Erica, Corso and Corona models that only came out in 1955-6.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 11:31:10 PM by triskel »
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Theo

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2018, 03:32:33 PM »

I have one of these Hohner's Morino which has some streamlined features, including almost no visible external fixings.  Tool me quite a while to find my way inside!.  I fancy this one might be from around the same period as the Shand Special,  What do you think Stephen?
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2018, 03:40:15 PM »

Great stuff Stephen

I seem to remember early streamlining in Excelsiors (NY) from 1936, but possibly not as rounded as your Dallape example.

PG

Thanks Paul, I'd obviously be very interested to see pictures of any Excelsiors from that time, but various firms did start to make somewhat more rounded "semi-streamlined" instruments in the late '30s. Whilst those Dallape ones were the earliest outright streamlined models I'm aware of, and with the grille switches as an important ingredient too.

Apparently Charles Nunzio was invited to go to Italy as a consultant to advise Settimio Soprani on what the American market demanded in an "artist" model accordion in 1937, and "automatic switches on the grill" were something he considered vital.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 11:32:23 PM by triskel »
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pgroff

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2018, 04:39:18 PM »

Great stuff Stephen

I seem to remember early streamlining in Excelsiors (NY) from 1936, but possibly not as rounded as your Dallape example.

PG

Thanks Paul, I'd obviously be very interested to see pictures of any Excelsiors from that time, but various firms did start to make somewhat more rounded "semi-streamlined" instruments in the late '30s. Whilst those Dallape ones were the earliest outright streamlined ones I'm aware of, and with the grille switches as an important ingredient too.

Apparently Charles Nunzio was invited to go to Italy as a consultant to advise Settimio Soprani on what the American market demanded in an "artist" model accordion in 1937, and "automatic switches on the grill" were something he considered vital.

Hi Stephen,

Agreed, and the Excelsiors ca 1936 do *not* meet your criterion of switches on the grille!

PG
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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2018, 05:58:37 PM »

What do you think Stephen?

I think I'd see that one as more of a "highly advanced" Swiss model Theo, and "smooth" rather than "streamlined". Datewise it'd be similar to ones he made in the mid-1930s, so before streamlining came in.

It's a gorgeous instrument though - I was sorely tempted when it was for sale...
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Theo

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2018, 07:15:24 PM »

I have another one ...
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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2018, 07:31:28 PM »

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boxcall

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2018, 08:26:34 PM »

Not sure if it's the right date but its got the car like grill
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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2018, 08:52:50 PM »

Not sure if it's the right date but its got the car like grill

It's the right sort of grille material, only turned through 90 degrees, but there's nothing really "streamlined" about any of it, and it'll be late 1940's/early 1950's.
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boxcall

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2018, 09:19:18 PM »

Not sure if it's the right date but its got the car like grill

It's the right sort of grille material, only turned through 90 degrees, but there's nothing really "streamlined" about any of it, and it'll be late 1940's/early 1950's.

 :'(  ;)

I see what your saying.
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hickory-wind

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2018, 02:02:03 AM »

Three Hohners. BbEb Preciosa, same size Regina I 12 bass, big brother Morino I in BbEb 3 voice.

Stephen- I believe these are way earlier than the 1955-6 Erica, Corso and Corona models. The first two have serial numbers 726474 and 684623. Any way to date them from the numbers?

Scott

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« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 02:17:01 AM by hickory-wind »
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boxcall

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2018, 02:38:27 AM »

The Morino has a jail cell kinda look, probably would be tough to bend those bars though.
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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2018, 08:03:50 AM »

Stephen- I believe these are way earlier than the 1955-6 Erica, Corso and Corona models. The first two have serial numbers 726474 and 684623. Any way to date them from the numbers?

I'd reckon they're from the early 1940s, before WW2 stopped production and Hohner went over to making something louder (detonators! :(). But I wouldn't regard them as having the rounded, flowing, flush-fitting lines that make something "streamlined", they're only trying to hint at it.

However, a rare wartime (September 1941) French Hohner catalogue that I have is illustrated with models of Verdi and Tango that are getting more streamlined, and an Organola "Musette II" 3-row with a very similar grille to your Morino.

                      

There are no couplers in the grille on them yet though - but that would perhaps have been too challenging for them to achieve under the circumstances of the time.

Hohner Germany can tell you when different serial numbers date from.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2018, 02:20:05 AM by triskel »
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hickory-wind

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2018, 12:26:53 PM »


Hohner Germany can tell you when different serial numbers date from.

for a fee...

If you own a vintage Hohner accordion, or are interested in buying or selling one, you’ll no doubt be interested in establishing its precise age and provenance. If you provide us with the serial number and exact model designation, we will establish the age of your accordion for a fixed fee of €25 / US$30 and send you a certificate to attest this.
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2018, 12:28:16 PM »

That's all very well, but I've never seen a serial number on any of my Hohners.  ???
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triskel

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2018, 04:03:21 PM »


Hohner Germany can tell you when different serial numbers date from.

for a fee...

If you want the exact date, yes. But I'd reckon if you said "circa 1941" you'd be within a year, or two at the very most...
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hickory-wind

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Re: "Streamlined" accordions and their 1937 beginnings
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2018, 04:15:03 PM »

That's all very well, but I've never seen a serial number on any of my Hohners.  ???

Only present on some Hohner models. Not on Pokerworks and many other low end models.

Scott
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