Saturday, February 1, 2014

Busted! Another lineup of known Hohner aliases.

In addition to marketing musical instruments under its own name, the Hohner company built instruments for independent retailers. In 2011, I did a detailed post on the same subject, which may be found here. Such "contract instruments" were rebadged with the name of the client's house brand. To cite a common example, instruments bearing the name Concertone were sold exclusively by Montgomery Ward in the United States, but were manufactured by different companies from Europe and the United States. Exactly which company built which Concertone was always changing, but Hohner built a number of them. This is very interesting to me, and I found some other examples to share.

The following accordions are obviously Hohner products, but are marked with the names of other distributor or retailers. Two of these brands were new discoveries, but several others, while I was already familiar with them, were notable for other reasons.

Below is a Lakeside piano accordion. It is missing its grille, but the cabinet is decorated with the floral motif found on other Hohner piano accordions. This same motif is also found on many Hohner-built Carmen accordions. It remains unsold. Note that the floral designs extend onto the wings of the treble keyboard.

In the photograph below is another piano accordion. It is badged Loveri and has all the same identifying features as the Lakeside shown above. We also get to see what the Lakeside's long-gone grille must have looked like. Although the floral patterns do not extend onto the keyboard, any rookie can tell this perp is a Hohner. Book 'im!

In the long standing tradition of selling something that is not Italian, but giving it an Italian name to make it sound fancy, consider "Fradella." I think that sounds like the name of a spaniel, not a fancy accordion. This piano accordion was built by Hohner in Trossingen, Germany some time in the 1930s. Note the grille pattern, a dead giveaway.

Below is another, smaller, Fradella. It is not Italian, it was not built by anyone named Fradella, but it is a Hohner. At the time of this writing, it also remains unsold. The bass panel, grille, and paint tell us exactly where it came from. I happen to really like the two-tone celluloid, though. That's a nice touch.

Here's a shot of Fradella 2's grille. See? Hohner all over. This model is probably a few years more recent than the Lakeside or Loveri.

I thought I'd throw in the Concertone shown below because it made me smile. It was presumably owned by someone with the initials "E.E." but is clearly a Concertone built by Hohner circa 1939 or possibly right after the war.

Concertone is a nice segue. Below is a Concertone that was sold by Montgomery Ward but probably built in the Koch factory. That's hard to tell because there were no photos of the reed plates or bass panel which would have helped to distinguish it. But I speculate it's a Koch based on the shape of the keyboard, the grille, and method of bellows attachment. APS is a mystery to me, however. Koch, you'll remember, was eventually purchased and absorbed into Hohner.

Here's another Koch, this time bearing the Venezia badge. Now, Hohner built some accordions badged Venezia. And I have one accordion which is badged Venezia and actually contains Hohner and Koch reedplates, of identical material and dimensions, laying side by side on the reed blocks. This one is interesting to me because it appears to be a pre-takeover Koch Venezia. It also has a metal cover on the treble keyboard, and is similar to the Koch Ouverture model shown in this Gumshoe Arcana thread. The "frogspawn" buttons, grille, and method of bellows attachment predate those of the Koch Ouverture.

You can make out the Koch chamois trademark stamped on the reed plates. The tuning is F/Bb/Eb, marked on the reed blocks. Kudos to the Ebay seller who opened it up and snapped the reveal.

Below is a Lyric that was built by Hohner, as told in the grille pattern and general design. It is painted in a folksy and elegant scheme that was begun at Koch and continued at Hohner. No sale was made with the opening bid at $325 and the item was relisted. This Lyric is from the early 1930s.

Another shot of the Lyric, showing the characteristic Hohner bass panel design.

The Lyric in question also had a switch on the side, probably operating the internal bellows lock.

One more photo of the Lyric, showing its grille pattern, which is Hohner to a tee.

Similar to the Lyric shown above, is a Verdi. Later, Hohner had several models of piano accordion that were called the Verdi. Apparently Hohner used the name all by itself, too. This compact piano model is painted in the same color scheme. The bass buttons, however, look older than the Lyric's, so it would not surprise me if this accordion was actually built in the Koch plant. Regardless of such specifics, it is clearly from the time period either immediately preceding or immediately following the takeover. Like Fradella, Verdi is not Italian and has nothing to do with Italy. Don't be fooled.

Happy hunting. 

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