Vittoria piano accordion

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natevw
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Vittoria piano accordion

Post by natevw » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:43 am

I recently purchased my first accordion and was wondering if anyone could tell me more about it?
IMG_20180321_201301.jpg
It's branded as a Vittoria, 41 keys and two toggle switches on the piano side. White keys are 3/4" wide. On the bass side, there are 6x20 buttons (only one dimpled) and a single toggle switch. I'm not sure that it's a "converter"; it seemed to be more of an octaving thing. The dominant 7th row (second from top) has "paddles" that are four notes wide, while the other chords hit three.

The only exterior markings I've noticed so far are the main "VITTORIA" (two t's) badge on the top, and with "Made In Italy" punched in the bottom near the number 223. Inside, I found two other numbers (158 and 109) each stamped and pencilled in several places, perhaps as something of a construction/assembly guide?

At http://www.castiglioneaccordions.com/Vi ... dions.html I found an extremely brief history of the modern "Victoria" company essentially copied from https://www.accordions.it/en/history/:

> Victoria was founded in 1919 by Dario Dari and Adriano Picchietti in Castelfidardo. The factory later changed its name to Victoria.

So given its name badge, can I assume this accordion was made sometime between 1919 and "later"? Is there anything else that could help me figure out more history of my particular accordion?
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by debra » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:52 am

Welcome, and thanks for showing us this relic. Sorry, I cannot offer any additional information.
What I can tell you is that I have not yet seen a bass mechanism that looks like yours. Interesting to see how the accordion technology has evolved over the decades.
What is also different from modern Italian accordions is that it is held together with screws or bolts instead of bellow pins. (The Russians still do this, and Pigini has done it in its Sirius bayans which were copies of the Russian design.)
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by triskel » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:10 pm

Datewise, it looks like a model from the 1940s,

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by JIM D. » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:03 pm

More like late 20's to mid 30's.
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by triskel » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:45 pm

The earliest evidence I've found, from collecting/studying old catalogues, advertisements, accordion magazines, photos and other dated sources, is that coupler switches in the grille, slotted grilles, and body streamlining, appear to have all started with Dallape's 1937 catalogue. They do not seem to have been found on accordions prior to that date, and must have looked SHOCKINGLY "Modernistic" at the time! :shock:

Here are scans of the "Artist" model Dallape listing from that 1937 catalogue, including a description of the "Dallape switching mechanism" - illustrating the "birth" of the modern accordion:

ImageImage

Scandalli followed suit with their 1938 models, announced in October 1937, and they were the ones who first used the long style of coupler switch then, like the two to be found on the OP's Vittoria.

Prior to the introduction of these features, early couplers were levers on the back of the keyboard (though push-in master switches in the keyboard edge might be found on more-expensive models), grilles were ornately fretcut, or stamped out, and accordions were much squarer and sharper in shape.
Last edited by triskel on Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:16 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by natevw » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:13 am

Thanks all for the responses!

I did find on the Italian version of Victoria's current website that the name change was "da Dari&Picchietti in Victoria Accordions" (https://www.accordions.it/storia/) — not from Vittoria to Victoria as I originally imagined.

That matches up with the table at http://www.accordions.com/articles/chronology.aspx which lists the founders selling under the Dari & Picchietti name from 1919 to 1935. This interview gives a 1936 transition year: http://www.strumentiemusica.com/fisarmo ... -victoria/

So I think between that and Triskel's catalog history, it'd be safe to say the accordion dates from the late 1930's at the earliest. Any way to rule out 1950's/60's/70's? What's odd is that I find hardly any references to "Vittoria" — even most of the Italian sites list it only as "Victoria". Was it perhaps a sort of hyperforeignism applied by American dealers?

Good observation on the screws instead of pins, Paul! (Those are making my troubleshooting easier.) One other thing that seemed interesting to me was that most of the leathers have an extra "tail" stuck on them. Any idea what those are for?

Anyway, I'm hoping to keep learning more about the history and design of this accordion, but my main projects with this will be re-seating a bass section that seems to have melted in our summer heat at some point, and of course learning to play it in a halfway respectable fashion! :-)
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by triskel » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:49 am

triskel wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:45 pm
Scandalli followed suit with their 1938 models, announced in October 1937, and they were the ones who first used the long style of coupler switch then, like the two to be found on the OP's Vittoria.
"Exhilarating in its modernity" - The new "Symphony" Scandalli, October 1937, with a single long coupler switch:

Image

The new Scandalli Scott Wood '4-Special', November 1937, with two long coupler switches:

Image

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by natevw » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:51 am

Ah, and I almost forgot: I did find one additional badge… on the case! That was made by "Geib, Chicago" and I found a quite detailed history of the company here: http://www.stevekirtley.org/geib.htm

The case's handle appears to be some sort of plastic, though it doesn't look as though that would necessarily push the dates forward any earlier. (Assuming the case is the same vintage as the accordion, anyway.)

Does this make it likely that the accordion was originally sold by an American dealer, or did those cases make it across quite a bit too?
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by natevw » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:30 am

Ooooh, I think I just stumbled across a major clue:
s-l1600.jpg
…from eBay auction, "Accordion, Vittoria by Soprani for parts or repair" currently still viewable at https://www.ebay.com/itm/Accordion-Vitt ... 2830024718 [i.e. photo not mine, but reposting for posterity since eBay doesn't seem to keep images reliably.]

Not the exact configuration, but otherwise a spitting image!

So I guess this is not a Victoria, but a Soprani? Does this give any different clues for dates and/or other history and trivia?

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by triskel » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:54 am

natevw wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:30 am
So I guess this is not a Victoria, but a Soprani?
A major clue, except plain "Soprani" is rather ambiguous - there were so many of them, and they usually used their first names too.

I'll look at it more later, only I've a car test coming up in a couple of hours...

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by debra » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:09 pm

natevw wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:13 am
...
Good observation on the screws instead of pins, Paul! (Those are making my troubleshooting easier.) One other thing that seemed interesting to me was that most of the leathers have an extra "tail" stuck on them. Any idea what those are for?
...
I think you are referring to the boosters. A narrow metal strip is placed on the leathers (and glued at the base with a small circular piece of leather to keep it in place) to offer a bit more resistance to the air than the leather could give you by itself. This is quite common in modern accordions as well. The boosters should all lay perfectly flat but in your case some don't.
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:28 pm

debra wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:09 pm
I think you are referring to the boosters. A narrow metal strip is placed on the leathers (and glued at the base with a small circular piece of leather to keep it in place) to offer a bit more resistance to the air than the leather could give you by itself.
It's not about "resistance" (who'd want that anyway?) but about the valves being closed by default so that they don't close with a delay and a "plop". It's surprising enough that smaller leather valves work acceptably without boosters. And they tend to stop working eventually when the instrument is stored too long and/or in a bad position.

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by triskel » Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:26 am

natevw wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:30 am
... I guess this is not a Victoria, but a Soprani?
I've spent some time looking into it this evening and now feel confident in suggesting your "Vittoria" was made by Settimio Soprani (Soprani Inc.), also a good-quality and innovative manufacturer at the time, though his overly-complicated "Ampliphonic Tone Chamber" design fell by the wayside.

Image
Accordion Times, December 1936

Image
Accordion Times, April 1937

Image
Accordion Times, May 1937, showing the then-current Soprani Inc. "Lido" model

This slightly later Soprani Inc. "Lido" that's currently on eBay has Settimio Soprani's "Ampliphonic Tone Chambers" - showing that he made Soprani Inc. instruments: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VINTAGE-SOPR ... 2341021381

Image

And though the grille on that "Lido" is one with a shutter mute in it, the way the grille is mounted into the body opening reminds me of your Vittoria,

Image

as do the back corners of the bass end, with their "seamed" joins in the plates of applied celluloid, when most makers simply butted them together.

Image

Whilst this fancier white pearl Settimio Soprani, also currently on eBay, has a front grille section that's very reminiscent of your Vittoria's: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Settimio-Sop ... Sw~ZdVfxzE

Image

But otherwise that very overpriced one (in Florida) has strong resemblances to this "Ultra Modern!" 1939 model:

Image
Accordion Times, August 1939

I think this bass mechanism is similar to what's shown in photos of your Vittoria (?):

Image
Accordion Times, July 1937
Last edited by triskel on Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by debra » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:16 am

Geronimo wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:28 pm
debra wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:09 pm
I think you are referring to the boosters. A narrow metal strip is placed on the leathers (and glued at the base with a small circular piece of leather to keep it in place) to offer a bit more resistance to the air than the leather could give you by itself.
It's not about "resistance" (who'd want that anyway?) but about the valves being closed by default so that they don't close with a delay and a "plop". It's surprising enough that smaller leather valves work acceptably without boosters. And they tend to stop working eventually when the instrument is stored too long and/or in a bad position.
Of course you are right. The "resistance" of the boosters is to ensure the valves stay closed by default. Which is why a booster that is slightly open is essentially useless. You don't want to much force from the boosters as then the frequency of the reed will drop (sometimes significantly). On my AKKO all valves have boosters, right up to the very smallest valves. (They are plastic and not very effective though...) I prefer plastic valves because they keep working over time and are not as prone to bending out of shape when the instrument is stored in a bad position.
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:48 am

debra wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:16 am
Of course you are right. The "resistance" of the boosters is to ensure the valves stay closed by default. Which is why a booster that is slightly open is essentially useless. You don't want to much force from the boosters as then the frequency of the reed will drop (sometimes significantly). On my AKKO all valves have boosters, right up to the very smallest valves. (They are plastic and not very effective though...) I prefer plastic valves because they keep working over time and are not as prone to bending out of shape when the instrument is stored in a bad position.
I had an instrument with only leather valves. It had a very sweet and mellow sound quality in its main (one-reed) register, and I do hear the additional noise plastic valves contribute to the sound (they are of course harmonics so it's not strictly speaking "noise" but a contribution to the timbre). It's not much of an issue on the bass side where there will always be some part of the mechanism adding to the sound anyway, but on the treble side the difference was audible for me. At least I attribute it partly to the valves: I don't have a direct comparison of the same kind of instrument with one and the other valve kind.
Last edited by Geronimo on Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by Granitz » Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:00 pm

Greetings! The bass mechanism is Mario Soprani's invention and the U.S. Patent number is 1784468. It was filed February 3, 1930 and granted December 9, 1930. This patent number should be stamped on both aluminum guide rails for the bass pistons, perhaps upside down if my memory serves me correct. Its purpose was to speed up production and make the bass mechanism easier and quicker to regulate.

I have 6 or 7 Soprani-made accordions from the mid 30's and have rebuilt the basses on half of them. They are relatively easy to work on, but all have required extensive cleaning and the use of PTFE or nylon tubing to make their function smooth and less noisy.

Below is a link to the patent documents. A very interesting read :tup:

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis ... 784468.pdf
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Re: Vittoria piano accordion

Post by natevw » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:28 am

Wow, nice research Granitz and much appreciated! I could not see any numbers stamped on the bass mechanism (just a hand-scribed "N") but I am leaving it in place for now so maybe it is somewhere I can't see. The rods/lever pins on mine seem to have either a very thick patina or some sort of outer "wrapper" of a metal that is quite corroded. That's a little more than I want to deal with at present — eager to get the reeds in place and go back to squeezing the thing! — but any further tips there would be much appreciated.


As to the origin, I found a Mario Soprani son of Settimio at http://www.genealogy.com/forum/regional ... aly/27759/ but that lists a 1914 death so didn't seem correct at first. But a scan of magazine "Presto" marked as "1939 2290 p. 25" found at https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO ... page_no=25 which discusses a visit from "Cav. Mario Soprani" president of the Italian Accordion Manufacturer's Association:
ACCORDION DEALERS HEAR HEAD OF ITALIAN ACCORDION MANUFACTURERS

A luncheon meeting, called at the instance of a director of the Italian Accordion Manufacturers Association, Ancona, Italy, to hear a message from Cav. Mario Soprani, President of that association, was held at the Hotel New Yorker, New York City on Wednesday, October 25, 1939.

Mr. George M. Bundy, Vice-President of the National Association of Musical Merchandise Wholesalers, presided. He outlined some of the problems facing importers of the Italian accordion and introduced Mr. Soprani who spoke in
Italian. His talk was interpreted by Mr. Scialo.

Mr. Soprani explained the situation in Italy, stating that the Italian Government was practically compelling the accordion
manufacturers to increase their prices. He indicated that the Italian Government insisted that all materials shipped
out of Italy—not only accordions but all kinds of merchandise—be paid for on a C.O.D. basis; in fact, it was necessary
to pay in advance of shipment.

In answer to complaints about the poor merchandise that is being received by accordion importers, Mr. Soprani urged
that a formal complaint be registered in writing and he stated that he would take it up with the Association in Italy immediately upon his return and endeavor to have those complaints eliminated. Mr. Soprani also visited Chicago.

I also found this history (https://acordeon-anipas.blogspot.com/20 ... atore.html):
Settimio fundó en el año 1872 la manufactura Settimio Soprani & F., que fue dirigido por su hijo Mario en los años 1916 hasta 1941. De cual hijo, Paolo Settimio, asumió la dirección de la manufactura Settimio Soprani & F. desde 1941 hasta 1946.
So I suspect they are all one and the same, the genealogy having a transposition error and the correct date of death for Settimio's son Mario being 1941 rather than 1914. So this would be further confirmation of Triskel's suggestion as my accordion having Settimio in its DNA.

Where the "Vittoria" part comes in I haven't found much other mention besides that "… by Soprani" eBay listing. My own accordion doesn't have any remnant of such a badge. Perhaps they were both made by a spin off brand or something, the eBay one under license and the one I have after the patent expired?

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