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Used Victoria (Titano) Accordions

JIM D.

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Our member "lbullock" posted a thread Victoria Accordions - the post was on ??'s for new Victoria Models. Close to the end of the thread a member
"Wirralaccordion" suggested it would be interesting if there was a post on used Victoria's for those of us on a limited budget.
This post will be on Victoria accordions sold in the US for 40 years. Now the Victoria models sold in Europe had Victoria grills & badges. The Victoria
models sold in the US were indeed Victoria models but were sold with Titano grills & badges. Titano's found here from the 50's to the 70's are Victoria
made accordions - after the 70's Titano's were and are made by Pigini - well made but not Victoria made.
Now in the 50's to 70's the Victoria / Titano models were indeed identical except for the grills & badges. I myself owned some of these Titano/Victoria models
for my 30 year personal use. I worked (and still do) for a Titano Dealer in accordion repair for 50 years now.
The unique feature of these Titano/Victoria models was the fact that no matter a student model or Pro model - the construction & quality were the same.
The Victoria made Titanos can be identified by their grills & badges. There was a late 40's grill and a mid 50's to 70's grill. I'll show both.

The early grill --


The later grill --


Used Titano/Victoria accordions will stand up in quality & performance to similar used student & Pro models of Giulietti, Excelsior & Bell.

Comments from Titano/Victoria owners, please post here.
 

debra

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I second that opinion. My good Canadian friend Edwin Ericson does lots of repairs on Titano accordions and like to work on them because they are very well made instruments. (Sadly he sometimes receives instruments that have reeds ruined by dodgy repairmen using Dremel tools with grinding (milling) stone bits, creating pits and other weak spots in the reeds. So he has had to replace reeds on occasion. But that's not because of the quality of the instruments originally, which was excellent. He seems to not have real complaints about the later Pigini-made ones, but they are not in the same league as the Victoria-made ones.
 

Ventura

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any of you learned and Titano experienced fellas want to give your take on the marketing ploy
known as the
"Tube Chamber" ?
 

craigd

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The tube chamber is a mysterious and ingenious innovation which profoundly enriches the sound of the accordion in marvelous ways, which unfortunately are too subtle to be perceived by the human ear. I do believe my dog appreciates it though.
 

craigd

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Our member "lbullock" posted a thread Victoria Accordions - the post was on ??'s for new Victoria Models. Close to the end of the thread a member
"Wirralaccordion" suggested it would be interesting if there was a post on used Victoria's for those of us on a limited budget.
This post will be on Victoria accordions sold in the US for 40 years. Now the Victoria models sold in Europe had Victoria grills & badges. The Victoria
models sold in the US were indeed Victoria models but were sold with Titano grills & badges. Titano's found here from the 50's to the 70's are Victoria
made accordions - after the 70's Titano's were and are made by Pigini - well made but not Victoria made.
Now in the 50's to 70's the Victoria / Titano models were indeed identical except for the grills & badges. I myself owned some of these Titano/Victoria models
for my 30 year personal use. I worked (and still do) for a Titano Dealer in accordion repair for 50 years now.
The unique feature of these Titano/Victoria models was the fact that no matter a student model or Pro model - the construction & quality were the same.
The Victoria made Titanos can be identified by their grills & badges. There was a late 40's grill and a mid 50's to 70's grill. I'll show both.

The early grill --


The later grill --


Used Titano/Victoria accordions will stand up in quality & performance to similar used student & Pro models of Giulietti, Excelsior & Bell.

Comments from Titano/Victoria owners, please post here.
Jim I have noticed with some surprise the equivalent build quality in two Titanos I've owned. The student Parade/Stroller and the professional Cosmopolitan seemed equally well made, the only noticeable difference being the reeds. I can't remember if even the reed blocks in the Parade seemed inferior to the beautiful ones in the Cosmopolitan.
 

craigd

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Maybe I was selling the tube chamber short. A skilled player played both my Titanos for me when I was trying to decide which one to sell, or rather which one to keep. The Cosmopolitan had its tube chamber intact, while the one in the Parade had been removed for mics (or maybe someone needed straws for a party). Well the Cosmopolitan sounded great to me, which may have been reed related too. It is surprising how different an accordion sounds from in front to how it sounds from behind.
 

JIM D.

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The difference you heard was that all Cosmopolitan's were made with hand made reeds. All the Parade models were made as a budget
priced 4 reed and only came with machine made reeds. The Parade bodies were the same quality as a Virtuoso.

The tubes in the grill were a marketing ploy and did nothing for the sound quality. After the 60's the same grill was used but the tubes
replaced by a vinyl grill cloth.
The elimination of the tubes was a welcome move as the older white tubes were a horror to clean and to keep clean.
 

debra

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I think the idea of the tube chambers was that the sound would resonate a bit within them. (Air certainly went in them, otherwise there would not be such an issue to keep them clean.) Anything you do under the grille can influence the sound. The sordino found on accordions from Hohner Atlantic to the Gola and high-end Excelsiors are good examples. The grille of the Pancordions/Crucianelli with "flapper" registers also dampens the sound, mostly the higher frequencies. And I have added a strip of felt under the grille of some accordions as a damper for the reeds at the front (towards the audience) to mimic the dampening the reeds at the other end (under the register switches) get from being under the registers, for a more even sound between reed blocks (for instance in my Pigini bass accordion, but also in non-cassotto Giulietti accordions). Not all ideas or "innovations" to alter the sound with something under the grille have had very noticeable effect, and reportedly the "tube chamber" was one of these innovations with little effect.
 

lispinini

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3C53A835-6C0C-4F66-BC94-6DA8892F2345.jpeg
Pround owner of a Titano emperor, a cosmopolitan ( Catraro reeds without free bass) and a virtuoso. I still own a Victoria Poeta and a few piano accordions from the new Victoria. The old Victoria Titanos are better made than the new Victoria especially in terms of the choice of wood and the reeds. The free bass of Titano gives a fantastic sound. One thing that I really dislike about my Poeta and many new Victoria accordions is the 7 bass registers by default are not as diverse and versatile as the old ones. The Poeta sounds nice for the bassoon and violin, but these are the only 2 registers I enjoy using.

I also have 2 old button Victoria accordions from the 60s. The interior is very similar to that of Titano. I do get an impression that the Titano labelled accordions are sometimes of better quality than the old Victoria labelled ones. This is also observed in other American branded Italian accordions.
 

debra

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3C53A835-6C0C-4F66-BC94-6DA8892F2345.jpeg
Pround owner of a Titano emperor, a cosmopolitan ( Catraro reeds without free bass) and a virtuoso. I still own a Victoria Poeta and a few piano accordions from the new Victoria. The old Victoria Titanos are better made than the new Victoria especially in terms of the choice of wood and the reeds. The free bass of Titano gives a fantastic sound. One thing that I really dislike about my Poeta and many new Victoria accordions is the 7 bass registers by default are not as diverse and versatile as the old ones. The Poeta sounds nice for the bassoon and violin, but these are the only 2 registers I enjoy using.

I also have 2 old button Victoria accordions from the 60s. The interior is very similar to that of Titano. I do get an impression that the Titano labelled accordions are sometimes of better quality than the old Victoria labelled ones. This is also observed in other American branded Italian accordions.
I believe the one you show here is not a Victoria-made one but a later one (presumably Pigini-made). The ones made by Victoria have more chrome decorations: they have chrome decorations around each of the oval-pairs, not just the lines between different pairs. The old Victoria button accordions like the one Richard Galliano uses are fantastic. Newer ones are still of high quality, but you can no longer source the reeds used in the old ones. I believe Victoria still stocks some old reeds for the times Galliano breaks one and needs to have it replaced. If they were to replace a reed by say a new Voci Armoniche one you would hear the difference...
 

lispinini

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704A0CE7-E06F-4E6D-BC6F-41DEDC376E31.jpegMy bad for uploading the wrong image. too many Titanos in my photo album.
 

JIM D.

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Both Titano's in the pic's here are Victoria made. The first one is an early 60's model that has half of the chrome trim missing.
The 2nd one shown is a 70's model that has the trim pieces intact with the then chrome surround eliminated.
In the years between the 60's & 70's the Titano grill trim originally chrome plated bit by bit had polished aluminum
trim pieces replacing the chrome until the grill trim in the end was similar but all polished aluminum trim.
The new Titano badged Pigini's have a injected plastic grill that is a somewhat similar with plain slot openings & and
interior grill cloth. Sadly at the end the transition from Titano models produced by Victoria was replaced by Pigini
made models. The transition of Victoria to Pigini made models was not for a quality improvement but simply
a cost saving decision by Faith Deffner then owner of the Titano Badge in the US. Today the Titano badge is owned
totally by Pigini.
 
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lispinini

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Both Titano's in the pic's here are Victoria made. The first one is an early 60's model that has half of the chrome trim missing.
The 2nd one shown is a 70's model that has the trim pieces intact with the then chrome surround eliminated.
In the years between the 60's & 70's the Titano grill trim originally chrome plated bit by bit had polished aluminum
trim pieces replacing the chrome until the grill trim in the end was similar but all polished aluminum trim.
The new Titano badged Pigini's have a injected plastic grill that is a somewhat similar with plain slot openings & and
interior grill cloth. Sadly at the end the transition from Titano models produced by Victoria was replaced by Pigini
made models. The transition of Victoria to Pigini made models was not for a quality improvement but simply
a cost saving decision by Faith Deffner then owner of the Titano Badge in the US. Today the Titano badge is owned
totally by Pigini.
Thanks Jim for the information. I own both Titano Emperors and I am thinking about selling one. I am currently traveling for work (despite COVID) but will make some recordings for both when I get back in January next year. Let’s do a blind test and see if people can guess which is which.
 

debra

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Both Titano's in the pic's here are Victoria made. The first one is an early 60's model that has half of the chrome trim missing.
The 2nd one shown is a 70's model that has the trim pieces intact with the then chrome surround eliminated.
In the years between the 60's & 70's the Titano grill trim originally chrome plated bit by bit had polished aluminum
trim pieces replacing the chrome until the grill trim in the end was similar but all polished aluminum trim.
The new Titano badged Pigini's have a injected plastic grill that is a somewhat similar with plain slot openings & and
interior grill cloth. Sadly at the end the transition from Titano models produced by Victoria was replaced by Pigini
made models. The transition of Victoria to Pigini made models was not for a quality improvement but simply
a cost saving decision by Faith Deffner then owner of the Titano Badge in the US. Today the Titano badge is owned
totally by Pigini.
Thanks for the clarification on the posted pics.
I believe Victoria would disagree with "Today the Titano badge is owned totally by Pigini." I believe Victoria owns the rights to the name Titano in Europe (and has always done so). Deffner owned the right to the name only in America. If Deffner transferred the rights to Pigini that does not automatically include the rights for Europe. That requires an agreement from Victoria, which I have not heard about.
 

Ventura

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the lawsuit proved in Italan court the ownership of the brand, period

the rumours and disinformation people enjoy surrounding stuff like this
is part and parcel of the Italian accordion industry.. the Borgias had nothing
on the Soprani's and Victoria's and Gabbinelli's

the american R&D specifications, first of all, and the patents, defined and guided
the physical builds, and Victoria was chosen, one supposes, in part because of their quality
control and repuatation, and the confidence they had earned over time.

why do you people talk as if Victoria had anything to do with the creation,
design, or co-ordination of the disparate pieces of the intellectual puzzle
that resulted in the Palmer/Titano era accordions ? this is absurd...

why would any of you think for a second that Victoria being able to sell the
models in Europe constituted anything more than a negotiated perk similar
to Zero-Sette having the right to sell certain models of Giulietti in certain
European markets ? does someone want to pretend Victoria was responsible
for the Tiger as well ?

Titano is owned by Titano, and while that may not mean nearly as much
as it once did, whoever Titano contracts with to build their current models
is up to them, and since the Lawsuit and subsequent bad-will that
generated, it most certainly has not had anything to do with Victoria
and likely never will

and it totally escapes me why, even after all these decades, anyone at Victoria
would want to build under the Titano brand when they have built their own name
Victoria
into a world class brand name of it's own ?

unless and until some new Business entity purchases the brand Titano and the
intellectual assets and any lingering long term contracts of exclusivity regardng
patented features (expired or not, the exclusive contracts are binding)
the ownership and management rests in American hands

as does PanCordion as does Petosa as does Italio American as does a number
of other brands still in existence though close to being on life support

we are not talking about jobbers who buy italian accordians and and negotiate to have their
name hung on the front grille

we are talking about American companies who once dominated
the world of Accordions and dictated TO the Italian companies
how they wanted their accordions built

Victoria cut their own throat because they bootlegged FreeBass
Palmer Hughes patents into the American and other protected markets...
they got caught and called out and lost their contract with Titano

they tried to keep building them after losing the contract, and got taken to
Court in Italy and that was that

if some of you love the Titano brand that much, i suggest you tender an offer
to the owner...

ciao

Ventura

the Trafficante family originated the Titano company and brand name in America
the Deffners bought the company in it's entirety, adding it to their portfolio of
Music companies
the Busso family joined the company as equal partners, and upon Faithe Deffners
passing many years later, assumed full ownership and control of all physical assetts,
intellectual property, brand names, publishing catalog, etc.

this is how things are done, after all...

nowhere in there do you see an investment made by any Italian company
or individual constituting an ownership interest in part or whole whatsoever
at any time

it may help to understand a bit about Faithe Deffner's background and motivations...
she was a Classically Trained violinist and held a love for that world... she was a seminal
force in Strings and created a channel for bringing top quality parts and supplies and instruments
into America. Under her stewardship, she purchased many copyrights and small Publishing houses
not just in Accordion music, and kept many titles in print and available long after they
ceased to be profitable.

she commissioned new Classical music for Accordion and orchestra, often at her
own personal expense, and worked hard to keep the world of Competition alive and
consistent in America through many many decades of the accordion languishing in popularity

(it has been over 40 years since the Music Trades had listed Accordions
as a separate line item in yearly breakdowns of the Keyboard market)

Titano and the Palmers suited her love of that side of the Music World...
and Titano ended up being her favourite even over their own house brand
PanCordion, which was their original accordion company ventura with
Mr. Pancotti (and famous for it's long association with Myron FLoren and
Lawrence Welk)
 
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debra

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Thank you Ventura for your well-informed knowledge of history.
I wanted to check what Titano itself had to say about it on the titano.com website but alas the titano.com domain expired just a few days ago, so the site is unavailable.
There may be many issues regarding patents (bound to be expired by now) and trademarks or brand names... Those are very different. Last time I checked out the Titano site there was a notice that (if I remember correctly) any orders for a Titano accordion from Europe had to go through an office in New Jersey and that the accordions had to be shipped from America (despite likely being built in Europe). My memory may be failing on this and sadly I cannot verify it as the site is down. This seems to match what I heard from Victoria directly: that the Titano brand name *in Europe* is supposedly registered by Victoria, not by the American Titano company. I could be mistaken, but it seems that the legal owners of the Titano brand name are different between America and Europe. It could well be that when Titano started they registered their name in America (perhaps even just USA and Canada) and "forgot" about the rest of the world. Sadly I don't believe there is any single entity where you can register a name world wide in one go...
Who actually physically builds accordions for a company is of course a completely separate issue from who owns intellectual rights to the design and who owns patents. The accordion world is very unclear to many people. We see many names, some that used to correspond to an accordion factory when today no such factory exists any more. You mentioned Giulietti as an example. For a few years they had their accordions built by Serenelli, and after that by Zero Sette, until eventually discontinuing the brand name completely. Some old brand names are still being used and some are not. (Nobody seems to have taken over names like Fantini or Borsini... whereas names like Crucianelli, Paolo Soprani and many others survived when the factories closed, some even until today.) People thought for decades that they could buy a Hohner Morino made in Germany, but this has not been the case for at least 60 years or so. It is of course completely up to Hohner who they contract to build these accordions for them (used to be Excelsior, later became Pigini, and now the Morino no longer exists and my guess is the new models that are not made in China are made by IMC). Likewise Titano was completely free to choose who they contracted to build accordions with their name on it (for the region where they registered the Titano brand name). That was Victoria, later Pigini, and I don't know whether Pigini still makes them or whether it's again someone else. I have not heard any claims that Victoria invented any of the technology used in Titano accordions (like the Palmer quint convertor) but of course by actually building them they became good at it, and they are also proud of being good at it.
There are factories in Castelfidardo that only build accordions for owners of brand names. Maxims, IMC... do not build any accordions under their own name, but they do make accordions with famous brand names on them... Personally I never liked this practice. I like to have the actual maker's name on an accordion I buy. (The only exception in my home is the Hohner Artiste X S made by Excelsior, with a nice "Made in Germany" engraving that is "somewhat dishonest".) I do understand that people might think there is something magical about a brand name, which explains why the trade in brand names is big business. Here in the Netherlands a lot of people want to buy Philips household appliances even though most people know that Philips no longer makes any, but just licenses the use of their brand name to factories making and selling appliances. People apparently like to be fooled...
 

Ventura

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Philips was a brand that earned a tremendous reputation here in the USA as well,
and i very much miss that their brand name, as well as RCA Victor and others who
have gone the way of Paolo Soprani

the only exception i know of regarding Titano is the special agreement between
the USA parent company, and their Australian associate, who are authorized to order
directly from (whichever) factory is under contract, and who handle their own marketing,
final setup/inspections and also honoring warranty work for Australia

if you look up the last Coupe Mondiale held in Australia, you will see many
photographs and videos featuring local artists and Titano accordions
participating ( i imaging that stuff is still on the internet somewhere )

because of Covid i personally have not been over to see Frank Busso this year, though since the
assets were moved from New York to Virginia, i had usually visited them once or twice a year.
Frank is also a fixture at events in the USA by the American Accordion Association
and others where new Titano, PanCordion, and Pigini models are always on display.
The organisation continues to support the competitions as well, and Frank
leads a teaching studio and accordion band often heard at the festivals.

interestingly, there are/were still brand new (old stock) Crucinelli and Tiger components
in inventory which presumably could be finished someday !

ciao

Ventura

perhaps our Australian members like Dingo can report on Lionel Reekie and the
state of the Australian market and popular stars
 
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