The Maugein factory in Tulle is the only remaining manufacturer of accordeons in France. They were started when the founder won an accordeon in a competition, took it to pieces and decided to go and work for the maker. They had a parting of the ways when M. Maugein proposed that they should make the new-fangled chromatic accordeon instead of the traditional diatonic ones. The boss disagreed, so the Maugein brand was born. At its peak the factory employed just under three hundred people, and the record production was about 1,000 accordeons in a year. These days they have about 13 staff for a production of about 250.
An accordeon needs two reeds to resonate when you press a key: one for when the bellows are sqeezed and one for when they are opening, since the air flow is in opposite directions in the two cases. On the diatonic accordeon these two reeds are tuned to different notes, on they chromatic they both play the same note. So to play a diatonic accordeon you need to press the right button and either open or close the bellows depending on which note you want; on the chromatic it doesn't matter. So the diatonic has fewer reeds and is a smaller and simpler instrument. The newer chormatic device would have appeared to be overly complicated, needing twice as many reeds for the same number of notes.
The accordeon skeleton is usually plywood, a stable and workable material, but solid wood ones can be custom-made: there was a beautiful walnut one waiting to be worked on. The finish paint job can be customised, and gives rise to some beautiful designs. We discovered later that an artist who makes ladies' bags and boxes makes a range based on the Maugein accordeon designs.