Accordion Patent Day… Or Not?

Accordion patentMany sites claim that today (January 13) is the anniversary of the day the first U.S. patent for an accordion was granted to Anthony Faas in 1854. A quick look at Faas’ original patent, however, reveals that it was filed on April 7 and granted on JUNE 13 (not January 13). I’m guessing that, somewhere along the line, someone mistook “Jun” for “Jan” and the mistake was unwittingly perpetuated. Let it stop here once and for all!

Faas’ patent wasn’t even the first relating to accordions. The first (non-US) accordion patent was actually granted more than twenty years earlier to Viennese instrument maker Cyrill Demian on May 23, 1829. And Christian Friedrich Buschmann invented the first hand-held bellows-driven free-reed instrument (the hand-aeoline) as an aid for tuning organs in 1822. (Brush up on your accordion history at the Classical Free-Reed.)

For more accordion-related patent fun, give Google’s Patent Search a whirl. I found a couple of odd patents granted to Lawrence Welk — one for an accordion-shaped lunchbox and another for an accordion-shaped ash-tray (which we saw on eBay several months ago!).


  1. Excellent job at catching the mistake. How odd that the graphic you link to, which shows it so clearly, is part of a blog article *celebrating* January 13 as Accordion Patent Day! (I submitted a comment there and link to your post, so we’ll see if anyone there takes note of it.)

  2. Incidentally, the link to that blog article (the first of your links above) has changed to:

  3. Thanks Bruce! I updated the link.

  4. There’s confusion about the May 23rd date for the original Demian patent too. The patent documents talk about the date they applied for the patent (May 6th), but also when it was granted (May 23rd), and also some other days when forms were transferred from one bureaucrat to another or whatever.

    I’d thought the date they received the patent was more important (having waited four years for immigration paperwork, I know the day I got approved was more important than when I turned in an application). But I believe patents work retroactively, so it starts when you apply (after racing your competitor to the patent office), so the May 6th date seems to win out.

    It does give us a swell chance for a rolling festival of squeeziness starting on the fifth and culminating on the 23rd with a celebration of the birth-certificate of the instrument. (In the States now, you can continue until June for the “revised” US date. Fun to be had.)

    Thank you Chris, and the Classical Free-Reeder for posting original documents! (great stuff)

  5. The US document is interesting because it patents a specific system for switching a diatonic button accordion to play chromatically. Perhaps like one of those chromatic harmonicas, with the little button that lets you play the “other/black” notes that aren’t on normal harmonicas?

    Huh. I never noticed that before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an accordion that does that. Maybe it was too complicated? Easier just to add more unswitched buttons that did what you wanted?

  6. I linked back to this story thanks to its being my source for the Lawrence Welk Lunchbox patent, which, after a great deal of important research, is revealed to have come from the Lawrence Welk Squeezeburger Diner!