Monday, August 8, 2011

A lineup of known Hohner aliases

Hohner once used different names or badges to sell their accordions. Often they built accordions that were practically identical to models in their own line, if not for the dealer or retailer's trade name painted on the front. All the different badges can make the business of separating Hohners from Hohner-nots very confusing and very fun. Below are some common examples of Hohner accordions that were sold under a different badge.

For a limited time, Hohner built accordions for Montgomery Ward, and its house brand was called Concertone. The Concertone contract flopped around a bit over the years, so at least two companies other than Hohner built instruments badged Concertone. Koch, for instance, was one of these companies in the early days (I featured a Koch-built holzbrand Concertone in this post). Later, the contract moved to Hohner and then to another company in East Germany, and perhaps to other companies, as well. The Hohner Concertone you see below has been knocking around Ebay for at least two years. The seller wants $299, which is too much for an accordion with this type of wear and damage. He'd be better off selling it in an auction where on a good day it still might bring a hundred bucks or so.


Below is another Hohner-built Concertone, basically the same accordion with a different finish. It is unmistakable as a Hohner accordion. The brown one shown below is in A/D tuning, and sold for about $115.


Here is another example, same dark finish. I like the look of how 'Concertone' is offset from center and surrounded by a border. This accordion sold for barely a few dollars more than the one above. If you missed the major Hohner giveaways, you can tell it is a Hohner from Hohner's "Steel Reeds" sign bolted on the side.




Below is a Concertone 31/16 diatonic. This instrument was auctioned in 2010 for $510. That's a chunk of change for an old Hohner, but well worth it, I think. It's all Hohner except for the name painted on the cabinet. Look at the gracefully curved outer edges of the cabinet on the treble side. What a beauty.


The underside of the keyboard reads, "Made by M. Hohner." This seems delightfully subversive, but is perfectly legitimate.


Hohner also built Concertone piano accordions, like the 34/48 model shown below in ivory celluloid. There is an empty space on the treble end where "Hohner" usually goes, while the area used for the model name says "Concertone." This is printed in the same typeface used for instruments bearing the Hohner badge.


Below is another Concertone, also built by Hohner. It is a 41/120 with some fancier touches and perhaps more sets of reeds. The "Concertone" name is in the same space, right above the basses. Look carefully and you'll see that at some point in this accordion's history, it lost a short strip of celluloid....


Superba is another known Hohner alias, maybe a "little known" Hohner alias? I don't see many Superbas and this one belonged to Raymond Laforest  - the photo is from his immense collection. If you read this and you have information on the Superba line (dealers, dates, etc.) then please drop me a quick note. Hohner enthusiasts will notice the familiar grille and faux wood finish, common to other Hohner accordions. No doubt the keyboard cover and grille were painted white after it was purchased.That looks awful!
 

Below is a nice blue accordion, badged Helgoland. I'd like to know which dealer commissioned the Helgoland accordions because until recently I had not seen nor heard of them. I like the semicircle typeface, which is similar to what Hohner was painting on other instruments.


Below are three variations of the many "pokerwork" models made by Hohner.



Except for the venezia badge, this 21/8 diatonic is identical to the 2815/2915 Hohner Pokerwork model. This one has a wooden keyboard cover in the old "horned" shape.


Below is another Venezia, a diatonic three row in the old configuration, with handsome and folksy cabinet graphics. I believe it was built by the Koch company. First of all, it bears the same grille that Koch used on the Koch Ouverture. Interestingly, this is the same grille that Hohner gave to the Hohner Recording King and now I wonder if the Koch plant built those, too! It's beautiful isn't it? I wish this grille or something like it were still in production. Secondly, the treble action in this Venezia is of a type that I have only ever seen in accordions built at the Koch plant, like the holzbrand Concertone I featured in another post.


The following photos are of a Koch Ouverture in A/D tuning. You'll see it has the same grille as the Venezia in the above photo, and similar "frogspawn" buttons. The bass cabinet proudly displays the Koch company name. In later years, Hohner produced various large club system accordions called 'Ouverture' but none of those predate this Koch model. History Unfolds: 100 Years of Hohner Accordions in Pictures contains an appendix of all the accordions that are known to or retained by the Hohner company. A model matching this Ouverture's name and description is described as a "former Koch model," was available in 1929 and as late as 1931.  


Another shot of that gorgeous grille and the polished metal playing surface of the treble keyboard. This Ouverture belongs to Map Leer, who kindly sent me these photographs. Thanks, Map! She is very pleased with the accordion, and says it plays lightly with a great tone. I bet she is correct.


Another cool accordion, this time a chromatic button accordion, is below. It is badged Bellini obviously was built by Hohner. I'd like to know which company was selling Bellini accordions. (If you're interested in Hohner's chromatic button accordions, be sure to look here for my post about them.) 


The small 22/8 PA below, built for children, is somewhat interesting. Although this is a piano accordion, I once saw a diatonic 21/8 with the Lombardi badge, but I do not have a photo of it. It had the brown faux wood finish and actually looked like Vince Lombardi wrapped up in his coat, if you squinted your eyes and prayed for a field goal. You can identify the Lombardi PA as a Hohner product from the grille pattern and "Steel Reeds" plate that is on the side. This accordion was auctioned for $65.




Below is a 34/48 Lombardi piano accordion built by Hohner. Note the grille pattern and flower motif painted on the cabinet that are shared with other Hohners like the old Tango IV and Carmen models.


Here's another small 22/8 piano accordion, essentially the same as the small Lombardi two photos above except Hohner sold this one as a Tone-Crest.


Below is a 25/12 Tone-Crest. It was probably built for beginners or as a lightweight instrument for picnics and traveling. It came in a classy tuxedo finish.


Eureka! It's another Tone-Crest. This example has more keys on both sides and some different design points. I love this classic old style.


The Majestic shown below was built by Hohner for Tonk Brothers of Chicago, Illinois. The Tonk Brothers company sold rebadged instruments of all sorts -- guitars, banjos, accordions, etc. Stringbox hounds like to look for the Tonk guitars and mandolins built by Washburn and other well known companies. This sweet 41/120 piano accordion looks a lot like other Hohner models such as the Model No. 1055.



Hohner built many accordions under the Carmen brand, and offered them for sale in their own catalogs.


Below is another Carmen. The design of the grille is shared with other Hohners, like some of the Tango and Verdi models from the 1930s.


Here is another piano accordion called Carmen. It's a classy machine from the same era as the one above.


Another Carmen model, that was also offered by Montgomery Ward under the Concertone badge.


 L'Italia -- the seller of this accordion thought it was Italian, but is clearly a Hohner product from Germany.



Here is a Ward. As in Montgomery Ward? Maybe. But MW called their accordions Concertone so maybe this was built for another company.You'll notice it has no filigree on the bass cabinet, removing for Hohner one more step (and one more cost) in the production process.


Capital -- in case you missed the Hohner giveaways like the grille, general design and filigrees on the bass cabinet, then just flip it over to see where "Made by M. Hohner" is painted on the underside of the treble keyboard. Do you know who retailed Capital accordions? I do not.



Like Carmen, L'Organola was a Hohner house brand. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hohner built a variety models it called L'Organola or Organola. The one shown below is a fine instrument built for the advanced player. I love the green trim on sunny pearl celluloid, and the vine motif on the grille. What ever happened to style?
 

This is an Organola De Luxe model from the 1930s, but not as much of a looker. This model was offered with 23 diatonic treble buttons and 36 stradella type basses. "Organola De Luxe" was also the name Hohner gave to a 41/120 four voice piano accordion during the same period. You can see where part of the model name has fallen off the cabinet.


Here is a Wurlitzer accordion, built by Hohner. This is an early PA similar to Hohner Model No. 1055 and it looks quite a bit like it was built at the Koch plant. The 1055 actually started life as a Koch model, and after its appointments were scaled back, it was produced by Hohner.

That about does it for this post. If I find more weird badges from the Hohner factory, I'll include them in a future post. Also stay tuned for the addition of model numbers and model names that I plan to add in the next few months as I find them.

14 comments:

  1. Hi,

    The grille on the folky looking Venezia diatonic accordion is the same as on my old Koch Ouverture diatonic accordion.
    The keys are also the same.
    If you want I can send you a picture.
    email mappieleer@gmail.com

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  2. Hello,

    You have beautiful accordions.
    I want to know if these are old accordions for sale.
    It is an urgent matter!
    Thank you very much

    greetings

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  3. We have what i think is a very old one.. it only has M.HoHner the worlds best made in Germany and at the top Steel Reeds. that is is. so i can't find out anything about it and i don't know anything about Accordings. anyone able to help Email me at Cspitcher09@yahoo.com PLEASE!!! ignore that my name is matty on my account its really just Matt lol

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  4. Excelente blog sobre a historia do acordeon

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    Replies
    1. Obrigado. Seu blog é excelente, também. 'Recanto Das Gaitas' está incluído entre os meus links.

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  5. Looking for information about Hohner's L'Organola, Tango Primas, with the curved keyboard. Haven't had any luck in a decade, hope you've got something.

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    1. Hi Greg. What did you need to know specifically about the L'Organola? They were vhq virtuoso instruments that were expensive to produce and discontinued around the time of the war. I see them for sale with some regularity on European auction sites like ebay.de or ricardo.ch. For more detailed information, you could try posting or searching old threads at musiker-board.de Chris

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  6. Hi Chris, I have an accordion that I know nothing about except that it is a Hohner and it belonged to my husband's grandfather. It only has 2 stops and is gold black and red. It is in excellent condition which confuses me as I know it is relatively old. Would love to know more about it! If you would like to help I'm happy to send some photos. Please let me know.

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    Replies
    1. Beck, go ahead and send them to gumshoearcana@yahoo.com, I'd like to have a look!
      Chris

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  7. Hello.. I'm wondering you would know what type of accordion this is? (It has a concertone trademark) http://i.imgur.com/gOfkFqd.jpg?1 Any info is appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Ink Bat. That's a clean example of an inexpensive child's or beginner's accordion from the 1920s or 1930s. It was *probably built by Hohner or the AS Koch company who built a lot of accordions that were sold under the Concertone label during this time. A look at which mark is stamped on the reed plates (inside the accordion, not pictured here) would be the telltale.

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  8. Hi, I came into owning a very old accordion. It is a Kalbe's Imperial Accordion. I have found several references to this type of accordion but can't find my exact model anywhere.. It has Suzanne and Migonne printed on it. I can't find any serial or model numbers on it. Was also wondering if this is a true Kalbe or one made later by Hoerner.. It's in great condition and still plays. I was going to give it to my son (He is a huge weird Al fan and has 2 accordions) but he doesn't want it. says it is " Too old for him" so I am thinking of selling it so any info you have would be appreciated. Pictures are here: https://imageshack.com/a/tr3z/1
    Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Charles,

      I wasn't able to access the images at the link you gave me. Try emailing me -- gumshoearcana@yahoo.com -- As regards the Kalbe Imperial, depending on the condition of the box, these do not fetch large sums but are enjoyable to play when they are restored. Look them up on eBay to get an idea how much (a simple search for "Kalbe" usually returns a few)... they typically sell for sums as low as a few dollars to 100-200 dollars at the outside. It doesn't matter much who owned the company when the box was built. When Hohner bought out Kalbe, they assumed responsibility for the former's equipment, facilities, and workforce.

      Chris

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