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Bandoneon (tango Concertina)


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Hello everyone.

I'm fairly new to the world of concertinas, and I purchased a beautiful vintage Bandoneon a couple of weeks ago. I'm attempting to research... can anyone give me some direction regarding the make/type/date?


This is a rosewood concertina with a full abalone inlay in green (this is real abalone). The word "concertina" is featured in metal fretwork on the front. All of the buttons have matching abalone caps (none missing). 23/24 button layout.


Any information that you could give me regarding the value of this instrument would be very much appreciated.


Thank you,


Edited by Rose
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...I purchased a beautiful vintage Bandoneon a couple of weeks ago. ... The word "concertina" is featured in metal fretwork on the front.

If it says "Concertina", then it's probably a Chemnitzer concertina, which is not the same as a bandoneon, though they are related. There are some useful links in this recent thread. Some other links (and some duplicates) can also be found in this thread. And we shouldn't forget Harry Geuns, in Holland.


Bandoneons and Chemnitzers are rather different from the kinds of concertinas we here on Concertina.net are used to, but we're friendly and will try to help. And if enough bandoneon/Chemnitzer folks join us here (as they've been doing, lately), we just might expand our horizons. :)

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks very much for your kind reply, my PC has been out of commission and I apologize for the delayed response.


Research on this instrument has been a little difficult but I have been able to confirm that this is an old Chemnitzer, and not a Bandoneon as I had previously thought.


I believe that this concertina may have been produced prior to 1925, but I could be wrong... at any rate it is a beautiful old vintage instrument in wonderful overall condition and with an excellent voice, and I'd like to have it refurbished and properly tuned. One reed needs a bit of work, and there are three small pieces of trimwork on the exterior that need repair (I plan to do this myself), and it does need a new set of straps.


I've examined the bellows on this Concertina very closely, and I've opened it up a couple of times now as well, to inspect the interior. The interior of this instrument is very clean and dry, and the leather and wood appear to be quite sound... no damage or decay in the leather or wood as far as I can see. It does smell a bit musty from long term storage, however (I estimate that this instrument has been in storage and untouched for forty years or longer), and removing a musty odor from leather is quite a trick... I'd appreciate any advice I can get in that department (my three teenagers, who have had to endure their mothers' musty huffing and puffing on this old beast in silent embarassment, would also be appreciative).


I snapped a few shots of it this afternoon and I'm posting the photographs here, on the chance that some of you who are more knowledgeable about the Chemnitzers can give me a little more information than I already have. Here they are:


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v47/pipp...t1/IMG_0262.jpg (front)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v47/pipp...t1/IMG_0263.jpg (front, closer image)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v47/pipp...t1/IMG_0266.jpg (top)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v47/pipp...t1/IMG_0268.jpg (side one)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v47/pipp...t1/IMG_0267.jpg (side two)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v47/pipp...t1/IMG_0264.jpg (the bellows)


When fully closed, the body of this instrument measures 12-13 inches long, 8 inches wide and 8 inches tall.


I'm a new member of this community, by the by... an Irish traditional musician from the great state of Michigan. I admit to having a particular passion for the free reeds, and I play an 1895 Lachenal English concertina and the piano accordion. I'd like to learn the anglo system as well, and I'm currently in the market (and I have been for some time now) for a quality vintage anglo. I may also be purchasing an Irish buttonbox in the near future.


Thanks very much for the warm welcome!



Edited by Rose
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Looks very much like the German Lange chemnitzer I recently borrowed.


Usually there is a maker's name stamped inside somewhere :(


As an anglo player, I found the borrowed one fairly straightforward to get a tune out of, fully chorded, keeping the melody on the right and the accompaniment on the left, but you do need a fairly wide stretch to reach all the notes.


If you play the right end button marked 5 on the push, the key of the instrument is a minor 3rd above. Therefore, if it plays A, then it is called a C box, and is usually played predominently in G, D and A. :P (Well that's what I was told by Pat Robson many years ago!) That is apparently the most common configuration, though many others exist.


http://www.concertinamusic.com/index.html is a good link to glean more.



Good luck.

Edited by malcolm clapp
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It makes me very nervous to open these things up, I admit... but I did a better breakdown on this instrument tonight and I've found the following information:


Henry Silberhorn


339 S. Wabash Av., Room 306



Repaired by

International Accordion & Concertina Mfg.Co.

1511 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, Illinois


I'm looking at the Concertina History page and I am seeing that Chemnitzers with the 23/24 button layout, like this one, were first designed in Germany in the mid 1800's.


I'm finding these notes in the Concertina History page:


1917 The International Accordion Company opens in Chicago, Illinois, founded by Walter Kadlubowski Sr. and Walter Mojsewicz. They manufacture several models of accordions and chemnitzer concertinas under the brand names of International, Schukert, Sitak, and Silberhorn.


and this....


1926 The International Accordion Company begins producing chemnitzer concertinas under the brand name of Star, and eventually renames the company Star Concertina.


1930 Henry Silberhorn begins selling the Clarion Concertina, an instrument built according to his own design.



It bears mention again that this is a very elaborate full abalone inlay with many small inset pieces... real abalone, not celluloid.


This is my best uneducated guess, based on the information that I have at hand: I suspect that this may be one of one of the very earliest of the Silberhorn concertinas, manufactured around 1917.


Yes, no, maybe?


I'd like to send this off for restoration... can anyone point me in the right direction?







P.S. a little side note here:


Two original peices of Concertina music were found in the case along with this instrument: both from the Vitak/Elsnic Company, Chicago. The titles are : "Happy Hour Waltz" (1946) and "Blue Skirt Waltz" (1944), both arranged by Elsnic and with the Silberhorn notations. And on the concertina history page, I find this note:


1925 Louis Vitak and his nephew, Joseph P. Elsnic, partner (Vitak & Elsnic) to sell concertinas and sheet music arranged for the chemnitzer from their store in Chicago, Illinois.

Edited by Rose
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The previous discussion threads that Jim Lucas suggested to you include my suggestions of people in the U.S. to consider for a Chemnitzer restoration. There is also a note that arrangements by the Vitak-Elsnic music company are still available from Brown's Music in New Ulm, Minnesota -- http://www.brownsmusic.com.


Thanks for the note about the Blue Skirt Waltz. When I lived in Minnesota, I would sometimes get requests from old-timers to play the Blue Skirt Waltz, and I never could find it or find anyone who knew it. I've been looking for it for 25 years! Perhaps Brown's Music is still selling it!


Good luck with restoration, and enjoy your instrument. Let me know if I may be of help.

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Even more rare is that you are a traditional Irish music musician playing an English!

Not as rare as some people would have you believe, though the recent (over the last 10-20 years) surge in popularity of the concertina as an Irish traditional instrument has probably tilted the balance even more toward the anglo.


But in my early days of both concertina and Irish music in New York City I knew three musicians from the Irish community who played tunes on the English before I met one who played anglo.

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Thanks very much for your replies everyone!


Brian I did read your recommendations and I thank you very much!

I'm astonished that you've been looking for "The Blue Skirt Waltz" for 25 years! I'd be very happy to send that copy of the Blue Skirt Waltz to you, if you'd like to have it... just drop me an email.


I live in southwest Michigan as well, psychopepper, up near Grand Rapids. I'm a house musician for a terrific Irish pub in Conklin... a legendary little pub that hosts some of the finest names in traditional Irish music from both the United States and abroad. I've been very pleased to meet a lot of fine artists over the years (Tommy Makem, Paddy Reilly, and Liam Tiernan are just a few of the gents that come through our door on a regular basis).


We have traditional seisiun every Wednesday, and we typically have between 20 and 35 musicans (some of whom drive hours to get there). We have quite a few accordion/concertina players and there are two of us who play the English system... the English system works beautifully for most of the seisiun music that we play, and we have a considerable repetoire.


I do plan to purchase a vintage Anglo in the near future, I'm in the market for one... I'd like to become proficient with that system because I'm also an Irish dancer (ceili and set), and the Anglo is really preferred over the English for dance music.


Anyway, back to the Chemnitzer:


I was privileged this week to have a couple of emails from a wonderful gentleman, Mr. Ken Yagelski, "The Polish Fireball" (concertinamusic.com).


Ken was kind enough to come over and take a peek at my photographs and provide me with the following information about this beautiful instrument (thank you, Ken!). I am sharing the information here, with his kind permission.


"Henry Silberhorn was in the chemnitzer concertina business for many

years. He started when he emigrated from Bavaria in 1885 by arranging

music, teaching students and importing instruments from Germany. These

imported concertinas were manufactured by Fredrich Lange, Carl Uhlig's



"Later, around 1902, Otto Schlicht and his associates began to

manufacture chemnitzers for a retailer named Georgi & Vitak, sold under

the name Pearl Queen. In 1917, Schlicht also began making instruments

for retailer Rudy Patek, sold under the Patek brand name. These

instruments were almost identical except for the name badge.


"When world war activity made importing from Germany difficult,

Silberhorn turned to manufacturers located in the United States to

provide concertinas. He contracted with Otto Schlicht and other

companies to manufacture chemnitzers for him.


"Your concertina is identical to instruments Schlicht made for Pearl

Queen and Patek. Check out this link from our web site...



"This image is from a Patek catalog dated 1930. Your instrument was

likely made by Otto Schlicht and his associates very close to the same

date. Earlier models were rarely ornamented with abalone or any other



"A plain wood finish was most common. Some had silver wire and small "pearl"

pieces inlaid, but the abalone finish was later (1930 - 1940) and only for

the better instruments.


"Later models (post World War II) were covered with plastic laminate,

first plain and later emblazoned with rhinestones and fancy engraving."


So the mystery of this beautiful instrument has been solved, and I thank Ken and Jim and all of you good folks here at Concertina.net for your kind assistance!



Edited by Rose
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I'm happy to know my previous info and suggestions were helpful.


I'd be very interested in your copy of the Blue Skirt Waltz. I e-mailed you privately about your offer. Thanks! Actually, I've only been on the lookout for it for about 20 years, not 25 - I become math-impaired later in the evening.



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  • 1 month later...

Just a little note to let everyone know that I've decided to sell this instrument as is, without doing the restoration work... I'd really like this beautiful instrument to go to someone who can appreciate it and care for it properly.


I'm selling it for two reasons:


1. I have tiny hands and this is a difficult instrument for me to play.

2. family circumstances are preventing me from committing to the restoration work.


It saddens me to have to sell it, but I can't bear to see it sitting unused and unrestored... it should go to a collector, or a serious musician who can play it.


If you're interested, you can find the listing here:



Thanks very much again, to those of you who gave me assistance with this concertina!


I haven't forgotten about your sheet music, Brian.... it's coming.

I just need to get it to the post office ;).



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