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Can You Help Identify This?


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I am new to the group. I play the accordion (for the past 50 years, beginning at the age of 7) and three different concertinas. I live in upstate South Carolina and play at the local Farmer's Market to keep in practice, and last week a woman gave me with a "Bandonion", in much need of repair. I have attempted to research this since I had never seen anything like it before and it is very much unlike any of my current concertinas. It's apparently a Chemnitzer.

My questions:

1. Can anyone make a guess as to the age of it, or tell me how to find this out?

2. Can anyone tell me where I might be able to get spare parts to repair this?

3. Are there any repair shops available in case this exceeds my capabilities?










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Here are a couple of links that may interest you, Pemmikan—Cicero and the Cafe.


Following those links might get you some help, though with "Bandonion" worked prominently into the design, I'd say it's pretty certain that what you have is an actual bandonion (of tango popularity), not a concertina with a "Chemnitzer" keyboard layout. It does also say "Chemnitz", but that's because it was made in the town of Chemnitz in Saxony, in Germany. The "Chemnitzer" keyboard layout also originated in Chemnitz (hence the name) before it became popular in the American midwest. Bandonions and Chemnitzer concertinas have rather different keyboard layouts, but are similar in construction, so the American Chemnitzer community could be quite helpful if you want to do your own restoration... or even if you want to pay someone else to do it.


We here tend to concentrate on those concertinas of -- or descended from -- English designs, though a few of us do play bandonion or Chemnitzer. In particular, you might try sending a Personal Message to concertina.net member Theodore Kloba. He's very knowledgeable about that branch of the concertina family and has been quite helpful in the past. He rarely logs in here (apparently not since last January), but his profile says,

"Send me a direct message through the board or reach me on twitter (@oakblood3) if something Chemnitzer-related comes up and I'll join the thread."

It seems he's also a member of the Cicero Concertina Circle that Laitch linked to above.


Good luck.

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Jim is correct. This is a Bandonion, which is to say an earlier version (i.e. having fewer buttons) of what would become the Bandoneon when it made its way to South America.


Since it was repaired by Foerster & Sons, you could guess that it was built no more recently than the 1920s.


Since it says Saxony rather than Germany, I believe it indicates at least pre-1918. (I can't remember whether "Saxony" would still have been used on products after Saxony joined the German Empire in 1871.)


Another clue on the age is the reed plates: They are made of zinc. Shortly after aluminum refining became cost-effective in the last years of the 19th century, zinc was abandoned and aluminum was used for reed plates.


There is no source for spare parts, other than finding additional similar instruments in worse repair to scavenge. I have worked on an even older Bandonion (with 44 buttons) and fabricated anything I needed (mostly wood parts, and some springs). All leather parts most likely will have to be replaced. I have bought leather from Columbia Organ Leathers.


Most of the Chemnitzer shops in business will probably advise against paying for repair of this instrument due to the cost involved, and the fact that they're more accustomed to working on post-WW2 American-made instruments with aluminum action. It can however be a fun project for a hobbyist.

Edited by Theodore Kloba
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  • 2 weeks later...

Mr. Kloba:


Thank you for your knowledgeable response. This is very helpful since I have decided to restore the instrument myself. I have a good understanding of how mechanical things work (I am an architect) and I enjoy carving and working with wood.


I have contacted Columbia Leather Company as you recommended and was unable to order any leather since I have no idea what type I need. They recommended I ask an expert or someone with experience and/or to send them a sample of what is currently in place in the machine itself. Do you have any recommendations for he type and thickness of leathers?


Also, do you have any recommendations for the glue that I should use to adhere the leathers to the zinc? After reading information on other posts regarding leathers, I am wondering if each reed needs a leather (I have heard that some of them do not have them). I have looked for glue residue and this is not present, even where leathers were previously in place and are now are obviously missing.


Sorry to be a bother, but I do appreciate any information you might be able to provide as I undertake this task.





in South Carolina

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