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Author Topic: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...  (Read 720 times)

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triskel

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... The Baldoni Bartoli has a German style or "growl box" type of bass end. I've never seen one before on a Baldoni Bartoli in online photo searches. The only other bass end that closely resembles it is on the 3 voice  Ed Fitzgerald Walters. ...

Somehow I missed the original thread about this intriguing Irish-American box, and I don't know if Paul Groff saw it either, but the shape of the keyboard ends appears to be more like that of a Walters, rather than a Baldoni, Bartoli - whilst the "maker's" name was usually much more neatly, and delicately, engraved onto them by Augusto in New York... ???

Here is a link to some photos I posted on a climbing site I belong to. Click to enlarge.

Green and Gold sparkle Baldoni Bartoli in D.

The Idle Rich

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2049409&msg=3048358#msg3048358

Whilst studying the photos, now that I've got my 1936, 4-voice Ficosecco from Southport, I can see some intriguing similarities...

Like the Ficosecco grille design is basically the same (except for the "Greek-key" front border pattern on yours):


Then there are the gold sparkle, with pinkish-red edging, trimming strips (though yours also has an additional white border added to them), and the coupler switch behind the keyboard looks pretty-much the same:


Of course, there should be the same number of reedblocks in both:


Does it look similar inside, and/or is it, too, dated?

I wonder also if it may be the same size as my Ficosecco, which is 29.5 x 17.5cm on the ends?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:10:35 PM by triskel »
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triskel

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 06:23:37 AM »

The strap brackets are very similar too:

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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 01:17:30 PM »

Hi triskel, Rich, and all,

Thanks for those pics Rich (I had seen some of them before) and for your pics & comments triskel.

Each of the early (1920s to mid 1930s) Irish-American boxes that I've seen, with seller's labels such as Baldoni-Bartoli, Superior, Walters, Iorio, etc, is a little different from any other. But there are some characteristics that are found in multiple examples of them.

I have seen boxes similar to this one, (big 8 voice 1-row with a "growl box") in old photos, but I think the growl box is fairly rare once the boxes get this size. The wooden soundboard and this exact action design are also fairly rare. The latter is a bit hard to see in these photos, but taking the former two features one by one and comparing them to boxes that have surfaced recently with good photos:

The Fitzgerald Walters (which Kimric Smythe has always described as 3 voice - ?) has a growl box, so does the McNulty 3-voice Superior 1-row box, so does the "sonic blue" unlabeled box that may once have had a Walters logo, so does another Walters box in lime green that is similar to the sonic blue box and that retains its logo. And again, there are examples of yet other "growl-box" Irish-American instruments in old photos (not counting here the Globes including the Globe Gold Medal Professional Deluxe, which lack an american retailer's labeling).

Wooden soundboards are unusual in the Irish-American boxes. Most are aluminum. But the Cunningham 8-voice Baldoni-Bartoli has a wooden soundboard.  There are many Castelfidardo-made 2-row, 3 voice accordions from the 1920s and early 1930s with features that overlap with the Irish-American boxes - a possible clue to the origin of some of these instruments, or at least some of the parts used to build them -  and in almost every case those 2 row Italian-labeled boxes (that are similar to Irish-American ones) have wooden soundboards. So the wooden soundboard may be sort of a "primitive" feature indicating that Rich's Baldoni is early.

Then there's the grille. I think the earliest Baldoni-Bartoli 1-row Irish-American boxes have metal grilles. Some of these metal grilles are fully stamped and the patterns overlap with those Castelfidardo boxes I mentioned above. Some of the metal grilles are fully hand-fretted, like the Sullivan box and the "Jack" box. But some have stamped borders with a hand-fretted interior, like the Cunningham box. The pattern on the grille on your Ficosecco is similar to some of the fully stamped ones and also to the stamped part of the Cunningham box.

The strap hangers are definitely unusual for an Irish-American box, but commonly seen on various makes of Italian diatonic boxes. Maybe another "primitive" feature.

I'd guess that the black buttons are not original, and that the original buttons would have been pearl with screws protruding from the bottom (possibly with the heads visible on top of the buttons) - as in early Baldonis, or with brads protruding from the bottom of the button - as in some early Walters.

Altogether a very interesting box!  A couple personal opinions, and YMMV. I think that the evolution of the Irish-American boxes favored a more "Vienna style" bass side, that was probably driven by the wishes of the pro players. Many or most players of that generation did start on a Globe or similar melodeon, and some of them might not have been willing to change their left-hand posture when they "graduated" to a pricey Irish-American box, so we do see the occasional growl-box design in Irish-American instruments persisting as a minority into the 1940s, but when we do it's usually in 4 voice boxes that can be quite small. I'm guessing that the overall design of Rich's discovery might be a challenge for a middling player like me to manage for fast reels due to size and its growl-box design. Once it's restored, an excellent, strong player should be able to play some great music on it!  Might be at its best for barn dances and waltzes though. Again, that's only a guess because I haven't had this one in hand, and again it's a personal reflection subject to my own bias.

PG
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 05:17:09 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 02:16:57 PM »

Adding a few photos to illustrate my comments above. First, other examples of early, growl-box Irish-American boxes.  Most of the photos of these that I've seen are in large group photos of music schools, and the photos need some interpretation!  But here are two examples that have surfaced recently, plus a really excellent photo of the Walter Walsh box.

Fitzgerald Walters, a 3-voice box according to Kimric Smythe:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/26639011@N06/5356060486


First photo below: the Ma McNulty Superior box.   An early photo of her, with the Advocate Players, surfaced showing this instrument in her hands, and I realized that the same box is currently in custody of a friend. Also 3-voice. 11 melody keys. Yes, when the photo was taken the bass side of this box was not attached, and the owner set the parts together back-to-front.  ;)

See second photo below for Walter Walsh, with another early 1 row box with a Walters-like keyboard and growl box. Possibly another Superior-labeled box, based on the flag design? The flute player is Mike Rafferty, R. I. P., and the photo was shared by his family.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 02:31:12 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 02:24:54 PM »

A couple of later boxes. The first one we've discussed before when it surfaced in Pennsylvania and then traveled to Ireland.*  Now at home in Miami. The O'Brady "sonic blue" box is unlabeled, but later a nearly identical example in lime green surfaced in Ireland and that one has a script Walters logo. Possibly late 1930s - 1940s, and a very small lightweight 4 voice model.


*
http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,3158.0.html

« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 09:29:38 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 02:42:29 PM »

A couple of boxes clearly made in Italy that have many features in common with the earliest Irish-American labeled boxes.

The 3 voice 2-row LMM grey-green box has no maker's label -- but I've seen nearly identical ones labeled "Paolo Soprani." Wooden soundboard. Many variants of similar models turn up in the US, some with hand-fretted grilles that overlap with Paolo or Sante Crucianelli designs. As well as the grille design and general body construction, note the typical early Italian strap hangers.

The 3 voice 2 1/2 row LMM Marino box also has a wooden soundboard - compare the grille to your Ficosecco and to the Cunningham Baldoni.  This Marino has many features in common with the small golden 2 voice Melos box owned by Ian Dedic. I think they were both very fancy custom models made in Castelfidardo. The Marino however has a very advanced and interesting compound treble action design, different from the Melos (I suspect, since the latter is 2 voice) and also different from any of the Irish-American boxes that I've seen to date. In general, the actions of these early boxes (maybe especially when there was a custom order to  make them in highest quality?) show much experimentation up to the end of the 1930s.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:19:47 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 02:44:25 PM »

I'd guess that the black buttons are not original, and that the original buttons would have been pearl with screws protruding from the bottom (possibly with the heads visible on top of the buttons) - as in early Baldonis, or with brads protruding from the bottom of the button - as in some early Walters.

Yes, I noticed the small holes in the levers and was thinking similarly. Certainly some of the Ficosecco boxes in Ulster have large-ish mother of pearl screwed buttons, like this one:


Whilst they're 14mm casein ones on mine (much discoloured):


And they're (more obviously) casein on the similar one in Donegal that Martin Quinn posted:


In fact, with their compact size and large buttons, the 1930's Pasquale Ficosecco boxes seem much more "user friendly" than contemporary Paolo Sopranis.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:12:25 PM by triskel »
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2018, 02:49:59 PM »

Now back to early Baldonis (but not growl-box ones). Here are some early metal-grille Baldoni-Bartoli boxes, and one unlabeled one that was completed without labeling or other decoration - suggesting that pre-constructed instruments may have been the "raw material" from which Baldoni-Bartoli finished their Irish-American instruments. Note stamped grilles on some (also seen for example in the very early McNulty D Baldoni *) and hand-fretted metal grille on the "Jack" box. The two on left are very compact early 6-voice boxes. The Jack box is 8-voice but otherwise very similar to the Sullivan, Finnerty, (and Storer?)  Baldonis; I think the Jack box is transitional toward the latter celluloid-grille Baldonis but I also suspect that it was originally made with screw-center pearl buttons.

Then the Cunningham Baldoni, photo posted by permission of the owner. This is an early 8-voice box with wooden soundboard and grille that is (partially) similar to the Marino and to your Ficosecco box.

*
http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Mas_Baldoni.html
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 02:55:46 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2018, 03:06:00 PM »

Here are two Italian boxes that share almost identical internal construction and almost identical metal grille designs. Keyboard design is obviously different between them. Both are MMM 2 rows with wooden soundboards.  Note those strap-hangers again! The box on left that's unlabeled externally is dated internally for 1924.  The Paolo Soprani-labeled box has features (including trim and engraving style) that link it with some contemporaneous Crucianelli and Ficosecco instruments as well as other Paolo Sopranis (mostly piano accordions).  Although probably less fancy and customized than the enigmatic, and probably unique, P. J. Conlon 1929 Baldoni *, this white Paolo Soprani does have some general similarities in design to that box also.

*
https://milltown.galwaycommunityheritage.org/content/people/pj-conlon/international-musician
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:07:58 PM by pgroff »
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triskel

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2018, 06:11:29 PM »

Some details of the Ficosecco:





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hickory-wind

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2018, 07:03:19 PM »

Similar...brackets, switch, grill.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 07:05:03 PM by hickory-wind »
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The Idle Rich

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2018, 07:12:26 PM »

Hi Triskel, Paul and everyone.  Thanks for all the photos and information sharing! The body size is smaller than the Ficosecco and measures 27.94 x 16.51 cm or 11 x 6.5 inches. Since photobucket is working again at the moment I will add a few photos. The Idle Rich

Some details of the Baldoni:
















« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 07:14:58 PM by The Idle Rich »
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triskel

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2018, 08:09:29 PM »

Many or most players of that generation did start on a Globe or similar melodeon, and some of them might not have been willing to change their left-hand posture when they "graduated" to a pricey Irish-American box, so we do see the occasional growl-box design in Irish-American instruments persisting as a minority into the 1940s, but when we do it's usually in 4 voice boxes that can be quite small.

BTW, that reminds me, did you see the astonishing and very 1940's-looking "M. J. Dolan" box, by the Elizabeth, N.J. accordion repairer/maker Charles Kahlmen? (It was on eBay last year.):



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triskel

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2018, 08:23:53 PM »

Similar...brackets, switch, grill.

Is that a blue one I already said looked like a Ficosecco Scott? And is there a date on any of the reed blocks? ;)
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2018, 09:05:32 PM »

Hi Triskel, Paul and everyone.  Thanks for all the photos and information sharing! The body size is smaller than the Ficosecco and measures 27.94 x 16.51 cm or 11 x 6.5 inches. Since photobucket is working again at the moment I will add a few photos. The Idle Rich




Well that's not too big after all!  Most of the 8-voice Irish-American boxes have at least a 6.75" bellows width.

The ( 11" X 6.5") dimensions you quoted are the same as those of the Likely and J.J. Dwyer Baldonis, which are only 6-voice, and seem to be smaller than the 6-voice Globe Gold Medal Professional Deluxe boxes with growl box, if my notes are correct.  Some other 6-voice Irish-American 1-row boxes are smaller than yours though (for example, boxes like the McNulty D Baldoni box and the Madden Walters).

And the compact O'Brady sonic blue "Walters -like" box shown above, with growl box and 4 voices, is only 10 1/8" X 5 1/2." I'd guess the lime green Walters with growl box is exactly the same.



PG
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 02:02:51 AM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2018, 09:07:24 PM »

Many or most players of that generation did start on a Globe or similar melodeon, and some of them might not have been willing to change their left-hand posture when they "graduated" to a pricey Irish-American box, so we do see the occasional growl-box design in Irish-American instruments persisting as a minority into the 1940s, but when we do it's usually in 4 voice boxes that can be quite small.

BTW, that reminds me, did you see the astonishing and very 1940's-looking "M. J. Dolan" box, by the Elizabeth, N.J. accordion repairer/maker Charles Kahlmen? (It was on eBay last year.):




Yes, I was watching that auction!  It would be fun to study it but speaking personally I'm not sure it would be as much fun to play dance tunes on it.  That points out that in the 1940s and 1950s there were some hefty boxes made. I'll admit that the Kahlmen - huge and with a growl box - is a counter-example to the more nimble instruments preferred by most of the older dance music players that I knew.  I know from the auction photos that the Kahlmen box was falling apart a bit from age and / or storage conditions, but I wonder how much it was actually played - and for what repertoire?

PG
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 09:28:28 PM by pgroff »
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mselic

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2018, 10:17:26 PM »

Paul - the Ma McNulty Superior Box that you shared a picture of shows a fairly compact box for an instrument that has quite a few sets of reeds. I wonder why the construction of multi-voiced one-row boxes (including today’s 4-stop boxes) moved away from such a compact design to be unnecessarily bulky. The Hohner HA114, with single end-frames, and this McNulty box seem to be perfect examples of why bigger is not necessary.
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pgroff

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Re: Baldoni, Bartoli or Walters? And it looks like a Ficosecco...
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2018, 11:55:13 PM »

Paul - the Ma McNulty Superior Box that you shared a picture of shows a fairly compact box for an instrument that has quite a few sets of reeds. I wonder why the construction of multi-voiced one-row boxes (including today’s 4-stop boxes) moved away from such a compact design to be unnecessarily bulky. The Hohner HA114, with single end-frames, and this McNulty box seem to be perfect examples of why bigger is not necessary.

mselic,

I agree with you in liking small melodeons, and in particular in liking the Hohner HA 114.  I do enjoy playing them.

But (just speaking personally) I also like the  comfort and relaxed position for the left hand and fingers that (for me) accompanies the "Vienna-style" bass-side design, with the left side strap over the back of the hand, thumb on a comfortable air key, and fingers totally free to play bass and chord keys, without any strap over the fingers or knuckles and with no role for any of  the fingers in gripping or supporting the weight of the instrument.

Much better box players than I have spent their whole career playing on melodeons that have "growl boxes." They work great in the right hands and they sound great for cajun music, Quebecois music, and many other traditions, including Irish music.  But in the particular context of Irish-American 1-row accordions, this is worth considering: Ma McNulty herself, Peter Conlon and many others, seem to have made the switch from growl-box melodeons to the "Vienna" style. Early photos show these playing Globes (or similar), then Ma McNulty had this Superior box, but both of these influential musicians are known to have switched to instruments without a growl box. 

So for me, and perhaps for Ma McNulty, Conlon, and others, it can be well worth an increase in size and weight to gain the comfort of that left hand design.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-T7pRmLpZqqU/TYNnCH7rDlI/AAAAAAAAEE8/6MlTuuvkkNw/s1600/HOB+1.jpeg

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

PG
« Last Edit: May 23, 2018, 12:41:16 AM by pgroff »
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