McLoughlin House: Prince & Co. Melodeon

MPF Conservation conserved several objects for the McLoughlin House in Oregon City, Oregon (which is part of the Fort Vancouver NM); this page documents the rosewood Prince & Co. Melodeon, a gift from John McLoughlin to his granddaughter, created circa 1846.

The melodeon cabinet is made of rosewood solids and rosewood veneer.

When we began the project, the melodeon was grimy, had missing veneer and hand-carved moldings, and structural damage to the bottom stretcher. The melodeon also did not play because of the damaged pedal connection coupled with leaks in the bellows. MPF Conservation treated all points effecting its sound loss, returning it to a playing condition.

Above, the melodeon before, left, and after treatment, right.
Below, many images of the melodeon before treatment.

MPFC recreated missing veneer and the missing hand-carved egg-and-dart molding, seen above. We also created enough for an additional molding section in case the melodeon loses more trim in future.

The melodeon was cleaned inside and out. Above, stages of the inside of the melodeon during cleaning using dry erasure, clockwise:

  • Sooty innards before cleaning, first image;
  • Huge dust-bunnies being rolled and removed, second image;
  • Gently dry cleaning the inside with a slightly damp, soft diaper cloth, third image;
  • And finally, clean internals, revealing a robust cotton printed cloth liner, fourth image!

The historic varnish was extremely dirty, and after a thorough cleaning we applied one coat of matching in-house shellac, and rubbed it to its historic patina. Part of the beauty of true shellac it is quite sturdy and will meld with the original varnish as an amalgam.

We coordinated reed tuning with a specialist who was able to restore the melodic key after we repaired the issues previously described which prevented the melodeon from the controlled movement of air through its bellows.

Above and below, the Melodeon after treatment!

Note the lovely shine on the shellac!

Items MPFC treated as of this date from the McLoughlin home are:

Return to main page of the McLoughlin House.