1890s 1-Row Diatonic Accordion

When is $15 too much to spend on an old button-box? Often! This time! Always! My friend Tom Steventon (avid antique dealer, record hoarder/collector, and picker) spotted this and brought it down to the store. I buy all sorts of odds-and-ends instruments from him, but knowing how I'd foresworn accordion repair in the past, I was preparing to tell him, "no thanks!" Any button-box this old is bound to be a nightmare (of sorts) to get in order.

Take the soundclip above with a grain of salt -- I'd de-leaked the bellows for the most part, repaired the wooden bits and functionality to the keys and stops, made sure none of the reeds were sticking too bad, checked the leather valves (which stop opposite reed movement when the push/pull of the bellows changes), and generally tidied-it-up. Still, to get this working perfectly means tuning all the reeds which I am not going to do because, you know -- it's a $15, one-foot-in-the-grave, brass-reed accordion! Right now it's playing well enough to amuse me on the porch for a few minutes.

I did all this silly work after-hours because I simply cannot resist struggles that "don't cost a thing!" -- except 2 hours of my dwindling time in 20 minutes while pasta's cooking and 30 minutes while a documentary of Some Chef's Life is amazing us with skill, bravado, and chocolate-dipped-ants. We have some friends who call any abstract, public, massive, ugly sculpture by the title, "Man's Struggle." Something like this might as well be plopped in the Louvre and titled the same.

The buttons were missing -- so chopped dowels glued in their place work for now. I'll put some sort of pads on them later. Maybe felt dots...!

My new duct-taped bellows "repairs" replace peeling old repairs.

The beetle on the stop-pull is what caught my friend's attention -- how about that? The second "stop" is missing and so I removed the adjuster inside so it wouldn't fall and cover the reeds.

The new strap material is, I think, from Ecuador. I used to tie my charango up with it (to a tree, maybe, where charangos should be left to ponder on their sins).

Who made this button-box? Who knows! I imagine it's German and dates anywhere from 1880-1900. It had some funny trumpet-looking cone/bells sticking out all over the front of it, though many were missing and I simply removed them.

So -- there you have it! It's not proud but it does make sound and greatly amuses our youngest. Whenever I play a diatonic she yells, "play me more, Daddy!"


Brad Smith said…
We're those wired trumpet-looking things for amplification? Sounds prett6 good.
Joe Schenkman said…
Wow! After playing this in your shop today, I ran across it on a tumblr feed, by the name of bushdog. I've told you about his source...maybe in Japan, that frequently reblogs your stuff, purely for aesthetic reasons. Anyway, it was weird and cool to recognize this right away from the pics Bushdog posted!
Jake Wildwood said…
Brad: They were mostly for looks as the holes they came out of in the front were backed by paper behind! I think they realized that they were just massive air-leaks and thus pointless.
Brad Smith said…
Next time I'll see if I can make even more typos.
Unknown said…
I search the manufacturer and the year of a melodeon, there is a exhibitor's medal of the Great Exhibition in London at 1851.
It seems there are 3 exhibitors of accordions : M.Faulkner, M Zimmermann and M. Steinkellner ( page 71 , 196 et 275 of catalog " https://books.google.fr/books?id=OfMHAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=1851+great+exhibition&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj9iuvM38fVAhUBmBoKHUmyChIQ6AEINDAC#v=onepage&q=accordion&f=false " )
you can see images here : https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNgeNaOyxmIO0oG2J9wwVFhzFraPZqJdu1VO4yE

Thank you !