eBay Find: Stand-Up Accordion

Now here’s something you don’t see everyday: it’s a stand-up accordion/organ built sometime in the 1940s/1950s. It looks like you can play while sitting or standing behind it and, instead of a bellows, you use a foot pedal to activate the fan inside and drive air through it. The nameplate says “L. Bonvicini” and according to the seller’s description, it was acquired at an estate sale in rural Colorado.

At first, I assumed this was a one-of-a-kind item, but then I found another one that went up for sale on eBay last month. That one was in better condition and included some interesting notes in the description:

“There is an old classified ad taped on it that says only 3 of these were ever made and they called it a chord organ, although it is not like any chord organ I’ve ever seen. The base/pedestal has a fan in it and you hold the foot pedal down to create an air flow. There is a volume adjustment on the pedestal also.”

Further sleuthing led me to a list of recent acquisitions at the University of South Dakota’s National Music Museum. About halfway down the list is this item:

“NMM 10753. Pianaccord (electrified piano accordion) by Diego Gobbi, Piacenza, Italy, for Ernest Bonvicini (1910-1976), Denver, Colorado, the third generation player and owner of Bonvicini Accordions, 3746 Fillmore Street, Denver. Gift of JoEllen Tipton, Vermillion.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t include a picture of the instrument, but I’m guessing it’s another one of these stand-up accordions. Either way, I’m wondering if these “accordions” were made specifically for Bonvicini’s personal use, or whether they were intended for sale. The keyboard/chord button layout looks awkward to me (and probably explains why there were only three ever made), but if you want a real conversation piece for your living room, the bidding starts at $299.99.

28 Comments:

  1. We had a fellow bring a home-made one of these in to our monthly accordion gathering. It was made from a small Hohner piano box, with the bellows removed and the piano keys and bass end were set on the top. Very strange. There was a fan inside to sound the reeds, you operated it with a knee-lever like on an old sewing machine. The fan was really really loud.

    Fun to play with.

  2. I have information on the accordion you spoke of, contact me, thanks!

  3. Hi,
    I too am now a proud owner of one of these accordions for tired arms, pedestal accordions. I just bought it on ebay for a wopping $28! It doesn’t work, but I’m assuming it wont be too big of a deal to fix. I just hope all of the parts are still jingling around inside.
    My reason for wanting it was the fact that I am a Hammond s6 player ( you know the Hammond Chord organ) and I figured I could get this instrument down easier than learning how to work bellows. I also like the sit down look about it. It looks like you could see a pedal steel player eye to eye. It looks like it would be great for a small combo for an ‘unplugged set’.
    I figure I was the lucky bidder and the lucky ebayer who happened to actually even see the darned ad. It was in ‘organ parts’ category.
    I absolutely would love any info or links you could give me on this unique instrument. All the seller knew was that it was made in Italy and…that’s about it. Hey, it took me 2 days to find your site- he said in the ad he couldn’t find anything on it. He probably made a good try anyway by how it sounded.
    I’d like to think I have something that is rare, but more so I’d like to think I’ve got something I can play! I play my Hammond s6 everyday. I’m good at the unorthodox approach to playing almost everything. I learned guitar in it’s usual 6 string tuning, but years later after breaking 2 strings ( the D and the high E) I tuned the remaining strings to F#,C#,C#,F# [or g-d-d-g for simplicity understanding] and played this acoustic tuning non-stop. It’s very musical, very easy to create complex chord structures with simple fingerings, and very easy to sing to. I wrote almost 100 songs with this tuning. You should try it. I encourage younger women who have no patience to try this tuning. Pass it on if you’d like. It works!
    I guess another unorthodox thing I do is brag on the s6 for how great it is, and that’s AFTER having played a b3 through a Leslie 122 for 5 years. Now that is unheard of in the Hammond community. I can’t help it though. I tired of that same old flute registry, regardless of how beautiful it sounds cranked up and swirling in the room through a distorted Leslie. The fact is, there is something very special about my s6. It’s 50 years old and has a tone that is very rich in harmonics. The ‘string’ tab sounds more like a Miles Davis trumpet. Very responsive, thick , and grindy. It sounds like a nice electric guitar sometimes. Now I can’t get a classic b3 sound, but I can get a very psychedelic flute sound. The reverb is great, and almost a must have on Hammond organs. If you’d like to hear an s6 demo look up ‘Hammond s6 demo record’. Really, I was fortunate to have my s6 fall in my lap before I looked up the seemingly brutal judgement it’s gotten from the music world. I can testify with complete confidence that IT ROCKS!
    Oh’ well, I don’t want to ramble on here. I appreciate your efforts on the web. You saved the day for me! If you need any advice on vacuum cleaners I’d be glad to help. It’s one area I claim to be an expert in. Well that and that 4 string guitar tuning. Although I never did bother to try to figure out how to make translations into musical notation. Really that’s what’s great about it. It’s a very free tuning, I’d hate to clutter it up with theory. Oh’, I like to build guitar amps and effects boxes. I learned electronics from my dad after he saw me sobbing about getting cut from the 8th grade baseball team. It was nice learning about tubes back in the early 80′s when I still had a bunch of amps to mess with. Now you can’t even get a clockradio tube amp for less than $50!….I could talk all day.thanks a million.
    My ebay name is paulj0557 and if you look up pedestal organ in ebay’s ‘completed listing’ and in the organ’s for parts category you can see the organ I just bought. Thanks, Paul Jacobs
    best_value_vacs@yahoo.com

  4. Thanks for writing in, Paul! Unfortunately, I don’t have any more information than what’s above, but now I’m curious. It sounds like there must be more of these instruments floating around out there. Let us know how your efforts to get it working again go. I’d love to hear how it sounds!

  5. Hello everyone,
    I too own one of these unique and incredible instruments. It was passed down to me by my Italian grandfather. Unfortunately, he passed away before I got the story on it. Mine is fully functional, and I have enjoyed playing it. I have it listed on ebay now for a pretty penny because of it being an heirloom an all. I would hate to sell it for much less because I really think that they are quite rare. I have 2 names on mine. One is Robotti, the other is Pianaccord. I have not been able to find a whole lot of info on these at all(your site being one of the place I found). I contacted an appraiser from the antiques roadshow, and he said that the only one he had ever come across was bought by one of his friends as a decorative piece. If anyone knows anymore about the history of these instruments, please leave a comment using the form below!!! Thanks! Here is the link to my listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=140209266159&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT&ih=004

  6. Hi I’m glad you got such a great deal on the “Accordion of the future”, “No more Bellows”! The “Bonvicini Electrichord”! My father, Ernest Bonvicini invented this accordion in the late forties….there were around four or five thousand built…it was a neat instrument. When they were new the price was actually closer to $2500! Back then! No kidding. I have two really good ones…and one not so good. I’m thinking of putting a MIDI system to the non playing one. I play Keys in a rock band but I also play accordion with violin, clarinet, and flute players….we all read music, the electrichord would look cool in that ensemble.
    I could get your electrichord fixed…I know who built it!
    See ya
    Lorenzo Bonvicini

  7. Hi Lorenzo,
    I have a standup accordian that looks like the photo above, that is inscribed, “L. Bonvicini Denver, CO”
    I am interested in selling it and wonder if you know of any prospective buyers. The instrument is in good condition and plays well.
    Thanks!
    Pat

  8. Hello Lorenzo. I also have on of these accordians. I am interested in finding out more information about the one that I have. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
    Thanks,
    Tim.

  9. i just ran across one of these accordions. where can i find more information. the fellow her who owns it is herb mesenbrink. we both live in boise idaho. love to here from you. thanks john

  10. Hi, I am trying to restore one of the accordians. I would love to get into contact with lorenzo bonvicini. any help on contacting him or finding parts would be great.

    Thank you
    Craig

  11. Would someone have some constructive input they can share with me about the the the Bonvicini Student Accordion, model 1328?

    The Electrichord looks like a great alternative to the chest-worn accordion.

  12. So, how much are the stand-up accordions actually worth? I run an eBay listing service and a person just contacted me to sell one for him. He also has a Panaramic amplifier for sale.
    Thanks, Chas

  13. Hello,
    My grandfather bought one of these accordions for my mother back in the 60′s and she still has it in exellent working condition. Does anybody know what there worth or knows of anyone looking to purchase one. She had told me that they were like $2500 new which i beleive now while reading Lorenzo bonvicini’s comment but she did not know how many were made.
    Thanks, Adam

  14. I have a Chordette by excelsior stand up accordian and jw what. It could be worth its a family heirloom its a stand up with removeable legs its got a air cut off at the knee like an old sewing machine and it plugs into the wall and everything is fully functional. I wanna sell it bc i have no use for it but if i cant get a decent price ill keep it for a lil longer but thanks for the help if anyone can

  15. Can anyone tell me the History of a Red Robotti Stand Up Accordian It has a crank for volume controll and pedistal? The shop I work at has one in the store room. I am trying to find information for the owner.

    Thank You

  16. I have one of those “mysterious” stand up accordians It was my Grandmothers and she used to play Ragtime on it. She bought it in the early 50′s. It is called a Pianachord, manufactured by the Robotti Co. in New York. I’ve heard there were only like 6 of them made by this company but I dont know. Mine is Red with the words Robotti, New York, in white raised handwriting lettering on the right side front. It is 120 base just like a full size accordian and it has the foot pedal for air flow and volume. Can any one tell me more about this unique instrument and it’s potential value? I can send photos to anyone who might have an idea.

  17. I have a Robotti StandUp Pianaccord that I am refurbishing. Wasn’t working when it arrived, sounds awesome now. The bass section is very tricky to the point that I paid a professional repairmen to go through that section only. I had to put the insides to the pedestal back together and fashion together the electrical supply cord/ hot wired it.
    What condition is yours in and are you selling it?
    I bought it on eBay of coarse, later

  18. i have 1 that i have for looks in my house but will be listing on ebay tonight this is a 1940s di biase pedestal accordion.all black with plug for speakers.

  19. I have a black upright pedestal accordian that must be at least 40 years and and is perfect condition and is amplified.Use to be my moms- she was a professional accordian player.I am looking to sell it if anyone is interested.

  20. If anyone is interested in this black unit please contact me at wzwierzynski@yahoo.com

  21. please I need one of these. I’m feeling weak.

    Contact me if you would like to get top dollar for one, I will pay to have it shipped from anywhere.

    the world of music needs me to create it on one of these fine machines.

    Don von Fleckenstein

    thefleckmeister@gmail.com

  22. I just inherited a Monarch Pianaccord from my 100+10mos mother who passed away in March. She played it until the last week of her life. I have photos and a video of her playing it last month. Looking for a value for it for possible sale.

  23. Hello – I am looking for a console accordion in good condition. If you might have one to sell – please contact me. nellmaluf@hotmail.com

  24. While attending the University of Denver during the mid to late 50s with a major in Concert Accordion I met and became friends with Ernest Bonvicini.

    I visited his store in Denver many times and often played his Pianaccord many times. At times he would let me take one home for a few days. It was a lot of fun and a very interesting concept.

    However, I stayed with my Excelsior, a traditional accordion. Now, I often find myself wishing that I had bought one.

  25. I have a Robotti Piano Accordion and it is in near mint condition. It is only missing one of the indicator labels and one of the keys is a little stuck. It’s really lovely and I want to sell it (I play guitar and dulcimer) It has regular piano keys and not the reuther systm. Really loud strong sound. Comes in it’s original case with Red crushed velvet lining and material cover. The straps are in excellent condition too with added rope for extra length. I believe it was my grandfather’s who was 6′ 4″ tall so he put the rope on. I don’t think he payed it much though. It’s made in Italy. Does anyone know it’s value?

  26. I’m looking for a stand up accordion and am wondering if there is anyone who would want to sell theirs. Thanks!

  27. I have a Robotti Pianaccord, pearl white in color. I do not have a power cord for it. Anyone know where to find a power cord ? Strange looking as it has two prongs with the circular ground prong in the center between the two power prongs. And still don’t know the ral value…..

  28. I have one of the stand up accordions, run by an electric pedal which works like the bellows. Mine is in the gray pearl, like the picture. I still play it, but I’m thinking it could be difficult to replace parts, if anything were to go wrong. I was told by my accordion teacher, that it was imported from Italy. It has to be over 50 years old, & I like making it talk…a great instrument to play!!!