Click here for current info about visiting our shop!

1872 Wohlmuth Helikon Slovenian Button Accordion in C/F/Bb (used)

Regular price $ 2,000.00

A very rare and unique antique button box! Please read the following description carefully. This item being sold on consignment in AS-IS CONDITION, no returns.

This is a Wohlmuth Helikon Slovenian 3-row diatonic button accordion, playing in the keys of C/F/Bb. It was made June 26, 1872 - one of the earliest examples of this type of accordion (it is a single reed type, as opposed to the more common 2-3-4 set of reed type). The 30 treble buttons are made of deer horn, 11 bass buttons are an early form of shellac.

The accordion had been in the previous owner's family for many years. In 1995, they brought it to our shop for an evaluation/appraisal by our in-house accordion expert at that time, Wendy Morrison. With the owner's approval, we facilitated an extensive restoration with Adrian Janoska of Classical Arts Fabricators - the only US accordion repair shop accepted by the American Institution for the Conservation of Historical and Artistic Works.

The restoration work was completed in 1997, and included new bellows, action, reeds, tuning, historically accurate cosmetic restoration and additional veneer restoration. A custom soft case was also added, as well as new straps (included with the sale). Cost of restoration was about $2,000, and we have extensive documentation and detail (about 2 pages worth, plus before/after photos) from Mr. Janoska which will be included with the sale and can be provided as photos upon request.

In 1998, Wendy Morrison formally appraised the instrument based on her observations and information received from Mr. Janoska. Though the extensive restoration was professionally done and historically accurate, due to some inherent issues with the instrument and its age - a warped/cracked soundboard causing air leakage, bass reed plates made of pine wood instead of the usual metal which had also warped - it was not a good player. Due to the age, rusty condition of the reeds and the tuning of the 1800s, it cannot be brought up to modern pitch. However it had, and continues to have, significant value as a rare antique and family heirloom. The 1998 appraisal (which will be provided) puts the value at $2,500 in its post-restoration state. If made to be fully-playable, Wendy estimated the value at "at least $3,500" at that time.

Wendy noted that the bellows compression was quite poor, that playing the instrument was "possible, but a great deal of work," and that playing the left hand bass simultaneously with the right hand treble was difficult.

24 years later, the previous owner has decided to sell this accordion. It is in similar condition as previously noted in the appraisal. We would rate it as "Fair" overall - it plays, but not well - though is in very good cosmetic condition. Owner kept all email and written correspondence from both Wendy Morrison and Adrian Janoska, which will be provided with the sale. Janoska noted in his evaluation that the accordion had been repaired in 1905 due to markings on it, and was repaired at least once after that.