Quick Links: One-of-a-Kind Accordions

  • Coin-Operated Accordion Arcade Jukebox
    Wow. I’m not sure where to start with this — it’s basically a jukebox/player accordion that sits on top of a barrel. Load music rolls in the barrel, drop a quarter in the slot and marvel as the automated accordion squeezes out classic tunes. Watch this video for a demonstration, but be warned — bidding starts at just under $4,000.
  • Topaz-1: Cold War Electro-Accordion
    Your fancy MIDI accordion is nothing new; Russian accordionists were squeezing electronic accordions (or bayans) back in the 1950s. This model had a built-in loudspeaker and amplifier, tremolo and vibrato frequency control, and more. Look ma, no bellows!
  • The Flaco Jimenez Signature Accordion
    Hohner has a new limited-edition version of its Corona II accordion, developed in collaboration with the legendary Flaco Jimenez. The accordion is tuned to match Flaco’s unique sound, has a noise reduction fingerboard, and sports a shiny gold finish complete with Flaco’s signature.

eBay Find: Hohner Magic Organa

We’ve seen self-playing accordions before, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Hohner Magic Organa — an automatic accordion built in the 1920s. (Not to be confused with the non-magical Hohner Organa, which was a portable organ.) Music rolls inside the accordion are moved with a spring-wound mechanism over 44 tubes to generate sounds, while a foot pedal connects to the accordion via a hose to power the mechanism.

This particular instrument was recently up for auction on eBay and, while bidding reached $2,750, it still didn’t meet the reserve price. As fun as an automatic accordion sounds, $2,750 could buy you a lot of lessons on a real accordion…

Hohner Magic Organa  Hohner Magic Organa (inside)

[Found via The Automata / Automaton Blog]

The Mysterious Pianaccord

Robotti PianaccordMore than a year ago, I wrote about a strange stand-up accordion that I found on eBay. I couldn’t find much information about it online, but there appeared to be a handful of them lurking around the country. This week, I got wind of another one: a Robotti Pianaccord that Bill Horton is selling on eBay. Here’s his description:

“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 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… 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.”

Does anyone out there know more about the history behind these instruments? Are they all made by the same person? (This one has a “Robotti” nameplate, but the ones we saw previously said “Bonvicini”.) Leave a comment if you have any experience with one of these “stand-up” accordions.

eBay Find: Accordion Home Study Course

Vintage Accordion Home LessonsCan’t find an accordion teacher in your area? Don’t have time for formal lessons? The U.S. School of Music had a solution: an accordion home study course available via mail order. This particular set — copyright 1930, but mailed in 1942 — contains four lesson books (“Home Study Lessons for Piano and Chromatic Accordion”), as well as twelve records to accompany the lessons. I’m tempted to bid just so I can get a closer look at the study materials. Plus, I’ve always wanted to take a correspondence course… in accordion.

eBay Find: Civil War-Era Flutina

FlutinaEarlier this evening, I stumbled across an interesting item on eBay: a Civil War-era flutina. Flutinas were a predecessor to the diatonic button accordion, with one or two rows of treble buttons and no basses.

Often made in France (though the name “flutina” came from the English), they’re sometimes seen in old daguerreotypes and tin-types as they were used as photographers’ studio props here in America during the mid-1800s. (They made subjects appear more cultured, even if those subjects didn’t actually play the flutina.)

The flutina in this auction appears to be in good condition, rarely played, and with all leaks repaired. Place a bid and play some tunes for the troops at your next Civil War re-enactment.

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Hohner Gola Prototype on eBay

Hohner GolaFor over fifty years, the Hohner Gola has been the top model in Hohner’s accordion line. The instrument is named for master accordion builder Giovanni Gola, who worked for Hohner from 1952 to 1972. You can’t just walk into a music store and buy a Gola, though — each instrument is hand-built and made to the specifications of its future owner.

If you can’t wait for Hohner to make you one, though, check out this auction for a one-of-a-kind “sub-octave” Hohner Gola prototype dating from 1953 (three years before the line was introduced). It comes with a letter of authenticity from the Hohner factory in Trossingen, Germany, as well as a handwritten note from Giovanni Gola himself describing the instrument. The asking price is a mere €50,000, or approximately $67,000. Cheap!

[Found via the Reyes Accordions forums]

eBay Find: Accordion Figurines Galore

Hummel fanatics, look no further. We’ve found the auction for you — plus a couple for those who don’t have $40k to throw around on accordion figurines:

  • World’s Largest Lot of Accordion Figurines
    I’ve never been big on accordion figurines; to me, if you’ve seen one accordion-playing angel/Santa/hobo, you’ve seen them all. But for the serious collector, this is the mother lode: over 1,000 pieces claiming to be “potentially the world’s largest accordion Figurine and Collectible collection.” Before you start clearing space in your curio cabinet, though, the asking price is $39,500. (For the merely curious, $15 will get you a one hour VHS/DVD describing the collection.)
  • Disneyland for Accordion
    This vintage book of accordion sheet music dates from Disneyland’s 1955 opening and includes accordion arrangements of eight Disney classics, including “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and “He’s a Tramp.” Sorry, no “Hakuna Matata.”
  • Learn to Play the Accordion… Subliminally
    I’ve heard of using hypnosis to stop smoking or lose weight, but… playing the accordion? “Use your subsconscious mind to learn how to play like an experienced professional accordionist!” On the first three tracks, all you can hear is “the soothing sounds of ocean surf,” while the fourth (and last) track contains nothing but “ultrasonic silent subliminal programming.” Seriously. I wish I was making this up.

Happy bidding!

eBay Find: Accordion Bar Set

Accordion Bar SetThere’s nothing like a lazy Saturday spent trolling for strange and unusual accordion-related goodies on eBay. Let’s see what the Internet’s biggest garage sale has in store for us this week:

  • Accordion-Shaped Bar Set
    Anna and I saw one of these in a Fresno antique store, but couldn’t pull the trigger (they wanted $75!). It includes two bottles, a set of four shot glasses and, when you take out the bottles, it plays a song. Classy!
  • Myron Floren’s Disco Polka
    We’ve written about this rare disco/polka mashup before; here’s your chance to own it! How can you pass up disco-fied versions of “How High the Moon” and “Beer Barrel Polka”?
  • Accordion Man, Signed by Dick Contino
    Accordion Man is Bob Bove and Lou Angellotti’s 1994 biography of Dick Contino, chronicling his rise (Ed Sullivan shows), fall (indictment for draft dodging), and subsequent return to glory. This copy is signed by Contino himself and includes an autographed photo, too.
  • 1966 Western States Accordion Festival Program
    Step back in time with this souvenir from the 11th annual Western States Accordion Festival, held at the Lafayette Hotel in Long Beach, CA. It’s 38 full pages of contest winner and committee member photos, as well as advertisements from the big accordion vendors of the time: Cordovox, Sonola, Titano, Giulietti, Lo Duca, and many more. (There’s one from the 1967 festival, too.)

Happy bidding!

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.

Build Your Polka Record Collection

Want to build a kickin’ polka collection overnight? Or just want to add some new tunes to your existing library? I’ve found a few eBay auctions that fans of polka vinyl might enjoy:

  • 30 Different Used Polka LPs
    A collection of 30 LPs, including multiple titles by Marion Lush, Eddie Blazonczyk, and Happy Louie. Ends Wednesday.
  • Lot of 65 Midwest Polka LPs
    If you’re a Midwestern polka fan, this might be the mother lode: 65 polka albums from hard-to-find Minneapolis-based labels. Includes tongue-twisting artists like Matt Vorderbruggen, the Chmielewski Brothers, and the Deutschmeisters. Ends Thursday.
  • Lot of 20 Polish Polka 45 Records
    Prefer 45s? This is a lot of 20 Polish polka singles “straight from Hamtramck” (apparently they belonged to a bar owner there). Includes records by Frank Yankovic, Gene Wisniewski, and Lil’ Wally. Ends Wednesday.

So dust off your old turntable and start bidding! And if you win one of these auctions, be sure to invite us to the listening party.

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