the melodeon

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Antiques, Decorating, Master Bedroom, My House41 Comments

You caught a glimpse of the melodeon I purchased from the old schoolhouse/music hall in yesterday’s post, but it was buried under a bunch of stuff.  Here is where it ended up in our house and how it looks after a good cleaning and polishing with some MMS Milk Paint Hemp Oil.

I have been looking for something to go under the master bedroom window since we moved here and I haven’t found anything that hit the nail on the head.  I had a $50 thrift store desk there for a while, but it was more of a place-holder than anything else.  I moved that desk into the sewing room and put the melodeon in its place.

(I wrapped some fabric around the seat cushion for now, but I’m going to fix the seat and upholster it.)

The style of this piece fits much better with the French wardrobe and French-style bed frame.

What I didn’t know when I bought it is that the stretcher can be removed and the legs fold up, making it portable.  A part of me wishes the keyboard was still inside and it was in working condition, but it’s just the empty case.  Here’s how it would look if it was still a functional instrument…

Wouldn’t it be fun to play on a mid-1800’s travel piano?  (I think it was actually considered an organ.)

One reason why I love this piece is the warmth of the wood.  It really is beautiful.

For now, I’m just using it as an occasional table.  I have it set up like a desk, but we’re not going to use it as a desk since it’s an awkward height.

The wood was in pretty good shape, but the Hemp Oil cleaned it up and brought back the shine.

There was a bit of sun-fading on the top of the case, so I might refinish it at some point to fix that, but I’m going to leave it alone for now.

I wish I knew the story of this piece…what songs have been played on it over the years?  How many families gathered around it to sing hymns and carols?  How many children learned to play on those keys?

I’ll always be left to wonder, but I love that pieces like these carry around silent stories and I can bring them into my home.

the melodeon

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41 Comments on “the melodeon”

  1. A lovely piece and looks nice in your room with the other pieces. I agree, I would wish it had the keyboard. And that I knew the story of it. But you will make your own stories and we’ll enjoy seeing whatever changes you make to it.

  2. Looks sooooo good in front of your bedroom window! I can just see you sitting there in the morning writing thank you cards! xoxo

    1. Hi ,
      Wow what a nice piece!! I also learned a new word today. Can I ask what color are your bedroom walls? It looks like a perfect blue grey, I just love it. I’ve been looking for a color like that.
      Thank you!

  3. Marian, I love that you did a post on this. I just sold a similar one for my mom on Craigslist to a gentleman with a nephew who is a music major, and he was thrilled. Does yours have a maker name?
    Ours was at my grandparents home for years, and before that somewhere else in the family in Williamsport, PA.
    I’d love to send you a picture! Yours really looks lovely in that spot.

  4. I’m so glad we hit up the school! I’m heading there tonight to pick up one of my finds – crossing my fingers for the other two!

    The melodeon looks perfect there!
    ( and to think I thought it broke !!)

  5. I was so happy reading your blog today. I have a melodeon also. I bought it from an antique dealer almost 40 years ago. It was empty inside also unfortunately; however, I did not know how it was called. I upholstered the inside and used it to sore writing paper, cards, etc. My husband wanted me to get rid of it but I like it touch to part from it. Thank you again!

  6. It is a beautiful old piece of history and shows how well loved it was to still be in such good shape. Musical instruments use to be made much prettier than they are today. Looks pretty in your bedroom, enjoy.

  7. Very pretty and elegant piece, never seen or heard of a melodeon before. It seems to be made of two types of wood, the top is perhaps walnut but the base I do not recognize the zebra grain. You found the perfect place for it.

  8. Beautiful piece but…WOW…the ads made for a difficult read! Does not matter which platform or device…they are just really over the top and take away from you words and pics.

    1. I view on my on a laptop and it’s the same as it’s been for years. They recently made changes to the mobile version, so it sounds like we need to make some adjustments to that.

    2. I too must agree. The ads pop up on the bottom and the video is on the top it’s very hard to navigate on your page now. I’m using an iPhone.

  9. Inspired! This could be the answer to having a lived stringed instrument without having a 200 lb item to move ! I am going on the prowl for a melodian or a piano forte! I sold my piano two moves ago to a young piano student who has progressed very well! Very satisfying! I have had an electronic board but not the same.

  10. If you decide to refinish it latter, will you have to use a chemical stripper to remove any residual hemp oil? What kind of prep will be necessary to refinish it? Does the hemp oil penetrate through any varnish, tung oil and/or poly that is already on the surface?

  11. You had me at the legs. They are absolutely gorgeous! What a lovely piece. It would look wonderful with a golden framed mirror. 😉 Just saying.

  12. I bought some of your hemp oil and love it on my furniture. It really does bring out the luster. Question for you. Can or should the hemp oil be used on painted furniture? I just painted a dresser and wondered if I can use hemp oil on it. Will it change the finish of the painted furniture?

  13. Hi Marion, I’ve sold just a couple of melodeons over the years and they sold quickly maybe because they were complete and people seem to really enjoy them. When I had them I used to wonder how many were put in a covered wagon heading west. And how many were left next to the trail when the going got rough. I imagine there were tears spilled over that. You have a part of American history. Popularity of the melodeon waned after the late 1860s so your antique was probably made between the 1840s and the late 1860s. I think that piece is so interesting and I, too, wonder what songs were played on them and if we would recognize any of them. Maybe “My Old Kentucky Home.” I bet we wouldn’t recognize very many of them.

  14. I’m not going to be surprised if this piece is now just holding a spot for a melodeon with the works! It will be fun to see how one makes its way into your life!

  15. What a beautiful, versatile piece! I wondered if you fixed a mirror to the inside of the lid if it could be used as a dressing table to do and store your make up perhaps. It works beautifully with your other things and could be interchanged with either of the chests in the living room or even used as a sofa/console table. I’m pleased you’ve given it new life. Enjoy.

  16. My mom has a melodeon. She got it in her late teens and still has it today. It has two pedals. One you pump to fill the bellows to get the sound. I can’t remember what the other one does. It has the same legs as yours and still has the keyboard. It is lovely and at 91 she can still play it.

  17. Oh my gosh. My mouth just dropped open when I saw this picture. It is a most magnificant piece. You amaze me with the wonderful things you find. Someday, I hope I too can find one. Thanks so much for sharing. You have the perfect place for it, too.

  18. Marian, what a lovely antique you have! It looks so nice in your Master Bedroom and looks like it was always meant to be there! Enjoy your lovely find!

  19. Could it be possible that the “piece of an organ” you bought for $40 is actually the keyboard for this melodeon? Probably too much to hope for, but looking at the picture, the dimensions seem to make it a logical question. Beautiful piece, though, even if they don’t go together.

  20. I’m a leg girl and I love the legs. I would let them shine by removing the chair. I hadn’t heard the term “melodeon” before but it might apply to what what I purchased two years ago. It was labeled as a 19th century “field organ” – traveling preachers would carry it along with them and set it up to accompany hymns. Ours is not as elegant as yours. It folds up into a (very heavy) rectangular box with a thick leather strap for carrying. It unfolds in an amazing manner into a small pump organ. The key board is small (only three octaves) and the player needs to sit on a short stool to pump and play (my energetic 12 yo is an expert). It still works and has a pleasant sound. Yours looks like the pumping gadgets/pedals were removed along with the keyboard.

    Remember the scene in Jane Austen’s “Emma” where Frank Weston sends Jane Fairfax a piano? Reading that scene, I kept thinking how on earth a piano was moved into the small Bates’ home. I wonder if it was something more like your melodeon? That would make more sense.

    1. I second this opinion on showing off the legs. Since you’re not going to be using it to sit at anyway I would love to see them unobstructed. What a beautiful find!

  21. The Washington DC area, where I live, has a lot of estate sales. People move on and their possessions stay behind. I am a consumer of those possessions and you know what, I always feel that the lady whose picture, lamp, chair, that I now have would be so pleased that I appreciated her taste. Ann

  22. It’s the perfect finishing touch to that area of your room, lovely and made even lovelier by its history. The stories it could tell! Those of us who love antique and vintage are also doing the world a good service by “recycling” these things that might otherwise end up in landfills. So much history and so much character annd ao much better than buying something new. What a wonderful piece of musical history! Bravo!

  23. It’s so pretty to use the hemp oil does the wood need to be sanded or can it be used over a finished piece of wood?

  24. Nice piece…I’m surprised how many unpainted pieces are finding a place in your home. I love the thought of painting this piece and the new piece that replaced the pie safe. I know I’m not in the majority but that’s what brings the piece a different style.

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