Organette

Organette, Hohner, blow accordion, vintage, German, original box, original information sheet

Source: loisjg46 on eBay.com

This soprano saxophone-shaped, blow accordion is the Hohner Organette. Like its fancier and more expensive cousin, The Hohner Sax, this little horn is from pre-WWII Germany.

This particular example is in quite remarkable condition. It still has its original box, as well as an original information sheet that has a couple of tunes, complete with Organette fingerings, on the back. This is how the seller described it:

This is a turn of the century antique Organette made in Germany by M. Hohner.  It advertised itself as “powerful as a Cornet” and called it a ‘Blow-Accordion’.  It is about 13″ long and the base is 3″ in diameter.  It has 10 numbered keys.  The number 9 plays OK on the inhale but has a little screech on the exhale. The key pads appear to be leather. I have made no effort to clean it.  There is some surface rust in places and wear on the metal label.  The box needs repair but all of the parts are there.  There are 2 paper items also included that refer to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

 Source: loisjg46 on eBay.com

As mentioned earlier, the Hohner Organette was the less expensive cousin to The Hohner Sax, AKA The Saxonette. In the following page out of a 1929 catalogue from of the Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Co. in Louisville Kentucky, you can see both of these instruments.

vintage catalogue, 1929 Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Co, Lousville, Kentucky, Hohner Organette, The Hohner Sax, other musical toys and tool chests

Source: Mantiques and baseball on eBay.com

The text for The Hohner Sax and Hohner Organette reads as follows:

Toy Horns

Hohner Sax

Heavy brass body, highly burnished; regular saxaphone [sic] bell and goose-neck mouthpiece. Fitted with 10 treble keys, twenty reeds accurately tuned, 2 bass keys.

A practical musical instrument of an extremely novel character which will afford fun, education and music.

No. 22B–Length 17 1/2 ins. $11.25
One in cardboard box; wt each 2 lbs.

Hohner Organette
Heavy brass body, highly burnished; metal mouthpiece and bell.
Fitted with 10 treble keys and 2 bass keys, all nickel plated.
A novel and attractive musical instrument which affords and abundance of real, good music.

14B–Length 14 3/4 in $4.80
One in cardboard box; wt each 1 1/8 lbs.

Notice the description of the Organette’s finish. The one that appeared on eBay certainly doesn’t have a “highly burnished” brass body. Another black Organette appeared on the Australian eBay site in January 2013. This one too came with its original box and owner’s manual. The condition is quite remarkable. Here is how the seller described it:

We have on offer an original boxed c.1923 working “The Organette” by M.Hohner of Germany complete with an instruction pamphlet which includes some music to play. This amazing blow accordion is in almost unused condition … the leather pads are all complete & in near mint condition on the various nickel plated keys.  I doubt by the box & the condition of this blow accordion the instrument has hardly ever been used. To be very fussy there is some pitting/oxidation on 2 of the key ends & there is a blob of plaster/white paint which has smeared near the horn part of the accordion … I am sure it would clean off carefully with some TLC. The 8 page instuction pamphlet is in near mint condition as is the packing box.

This boxed blow accordion cost  15/- in 1923 …. is written in pencil on the end iof the box.

P.S …. have noticed that the instrument does’t sit flat when standing on its horned end …. appears to be a small ding on the rim which could easily be straightened out. The 3 screws on the last image were found in the box … I believe they have nothing to do with the instrument.

Source: Philicia Antiques on ebay.com.au

Apparently Hohner offered these little instruments in at least two different finishes, either before, or after this 1929 catalogue from the Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Co. was published.

In January 2013 I also saw a “highly burnished” brass body Organette appear on the UK eBay site. Although this instrument now has a patina finish that some vintage sax players crave, its original colour is still visible underneath all the tarnish.

Organette, Hohner, blow accordion, vintage, German, brass keys, mouthpiece, bell

Source: bigmammasjewelry on ebay.co.uk

This brass Organette appears to be in incredibly good shape with no damage, and all parts intact…

Source: bigmammasjewelry on ebay.co.uk

Getting back to the 1929 catalogue page from of the Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Co. …

Notice the price difference between The Hohner Sax and the Hohner Organette. The sax sold for $11.25, while the Organette was only $4.80. In 2012 dollars that would be $151.05 and $64.45 respectively. These were not cheap “toys”. Furthermore, this price difference confirms what Musica Viva stated on its site (when it was up), that:

….saxophone-shaped blow accordions were a step-up, or fancier version of the simple design that was the most common.

(I linked to Musica Viva again in hopes that when they are done with their site redesign, their pages will all be redirected properly. Having just gone through all this, I feel their pain.)

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