The Pokerworks of today, like the one in the first photo (courtesy of Wikipedia), are built in China. They are offered in G/C, A/D, C/F, and D/G tuning. The paint job of a new Pokerwork is dangerously brighter than the understated gold tones of classic German examples. You could signal an aircraft with one of these things! Sunglasses are sold separately. Unfortunately, quality has fallen since production moved to China. For instance tuning is not what you'd expect from a new instrument. But it comes with orange bellows paper, tacky gold bellows tapes, no depth stop in the keyboard, and the warranty is printed in German. Some things just never change.
Here is a Pokerwork I sold in 2009. It was built in Germany. I was quite fond of this accordion. My neighbors were not! But I was not fond of my neighbors or their dog so I figure in the end, we were square. I learned that the man who bought it actually sold it to someone else and recently, I received an email from that buyer. The most recent owner enjoys it very much. I'm happy to know my old box has a good home and may even spend some time on a sailboat! Considering all the persons who may own a single accordion, I am caused to regard the purchaser of an instrument as a steward, not an owner.
In the early days before World War Two, Hohner produced accordions decorated by different goldbrand and holzbrand patterns. "Goldbrand" is how Hohner describes the gold/black paint applied over pressed wood, and "holzbrand" is essentially goldbrand without any paint -- just pressed wood.** Design elements from the various cabinet motifs were shared between different models. Considering the number of factories Hohner had doing their contract work and the range of years these accordions were available to different dealers, there are plenty of "pokerworks" floating around to keep a collector busy for years. Just which factory filled which contract remains a mystery to me, but some clues indicate dates of production and possibly origin.
What's this? It looks just like the one above, except that its design has been painted onto the cabinet. The grille, which is also painted, has been cut from wood instead of punched from metal. There is a small step dividing the inner and outer rows of the treble keyboard. The bellows have been furnished with printed paper and black tapes. The metal hardware holding down the straps is a different shape (difficult to see in this photo). So the questions linger: Which came first, the pressed accordion with the metal grille or the painted accordion with the wooden grille? Was the same design produced concurrently in two different factories? Can differences in hardware be owed to using parts from jobs contracted to outside factories? After looking at some old catalogs, I believe the accordion with the metal grille could be as much as 20-30 years more recent than its painted counterpart, but they could be much closer in age. My instincts tend to lean toward a painted/wooden progenitor from a different factory or company, perhaps the Koch factory, but honestly, I do not know. As noted above, Hohner had different factories producing parts for different accordions, which were then assembled in different factories, so the questions are all up for debate.
At right is the Venezia Chromatic. Weird, huh? That's probably why it didn't last very long. It is tuned like a piano accordion and no, it is not easy to play as one plays a PA -- it even comes with a thump loop! The interest, to me, is in its painted cabinet design which is the same as modern 2915, as well as its dimensions and general design. The painted grille and stepped keyboard covers are shared with the two diatonic models discussed above. The reed plates in this accordion bear the trademark of the A.S. Koch company, which Hohner bought in the 1920s. Were these accordions built in the Koch plant? Are they the product of a contract, or were they built in the Koch plant under Hohner control? Maybe Hohner was just using up old supplies of reeds they purchased from Koch?These are all possibilities.
(**Thank you to michik at melodeon.net for this information.)