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Pete Dickey

How Many Jeffries?

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So we know from records that Lachenal numbers got into the 200,000's and Wheatstones into the 50,000's and there were a couple of thousand Crabb's some of which ended up as Jeffries.

 

What I would like to know is roughly how many Jeffries concertinas were made? Given their scarcity, it seems that every time you go to a decent session, there is someone in the corner playing a Jeffries of some description, be it a C Jeffries or Jeffries Brothers with 30 to 40 keys in whatever tuning, or sometimes even a Jeffries Duet of the type not yet converted into an Anglo.

 

For something apparently so desirable there do seem to be a lot of them about or were more than we think originally Crabb concertinas which were renamed? Even old fraudulent Jeffries copies may be more prolific than we know?

 

Pete

(the owner of a C. Jeffries GD - I think :unsure: )

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I have heard so many estimates of the number of Jeffries built, and the number still in existance, but the figures vary so widely. Interesting that no one here appears to be prepared to pop up their head above the trenches and have it shot off, so to speak. :rolleyes:

 

I know of over 30 currently in Australia, more than half of which I have worked on. All are in pretty regular use.

Are there another 30 "lurking" somewhere? Quite possibly.

 

There have been at least 2 on eBay Australia in the past 12 months from non-playing sources, and the vaste majority of those I know of in Australia have come from non-playing sources rather than recently imported from dealers.

 

I firmly believe that Jeffries do have a greater survival rate than other makes, partly because of the more robust nature of their construction, but also because of the way they were prized in the years before the current "concertina revival". Presumably many readers would be familiar with Tommy Williams' comments about Jeffries concertinas and pawn shops during the depression.

 

Of course, many Jeffries Duets did not survive, or, at least, not as duets, partly because of the said concertina revival, but that's another story.... :(

 

MC

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... Presumably many readers would be familiar with Tommy Williams' comments about Jeffries concertinas and pawn shops during the depression ... MC

 

Maybe many readers are, but I'm not ... DO tell, please!

Samantha

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... Presumably many readers would be familiar with Tommy Williams' comments about Jeffries concertinas and pawn shops during the depression ... MC

 

Maybe many readers are, but I'm not ... DO tell, please!

Samantha

 

 

Samantha, would you be aware of Tommy Williams? He was a tuner and reed maker who worked for Lachenals and made a recording for Neil Wayne's Free Reed label back in the '70s, "Springtime in Battersea"

 

I quote from the record sleeve, from an interview with Tommy where he is talking about his younger days :

 

"You saw a lot of concertinas about, good Anglos, Jeffries - some pawn shops specialised in 'em, wouldn't take any other thing in pawn bar the Jeffries."

 

I think that is a fair indication of the esteem in which they were held.

 

Actually, I think I was incorrect in my earlier post. It would seem that his statement was describing a situation well before the depression, in fact before WW1, at a time when Tommy was just starting with the concertina, though the narrative skips around a bit. Maybe Neil could give a better indication of the period being referred to.

 

MC

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I believe that other makes of concertina including in particular such as Crabbs, Ball Beavons etc. often were doctored to look like Jeffries with the restamping of end plates or even fitting of false new end-plates so that the pawnbrokers would lend money on them. I believe you are correct about the timing Malcolm although perhaps one of the eminent historians could confirm if we are right.

 

By the way where on earth is Stephen Chambers? Does anyone know if he is okay? Seems to be months since he last posted.

 

Pete

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Guest Peter Laban
By the way where on earth is Stephen Chambers? Does anyone know if he is okay? Seems to be months since he last posted.

 

Pete

 

 

I saw Steve last week in Tesco's in ennis, he looked well and happy but I didn't speak to him as he was busy chatting to his female companion. And I was talking to Dympna O Sullivan who works there, how's that for concertina related things in the one supermarket?

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I believe that other makes of concertina including in particular such as Crabbs, Ball Beavons etc. often were doctored to look like Jeffries with the restamping of end plates or even fitting of false new end-plates so that the pawnbrokers would lend money on them. I believe you are correct about the timing Malcolm although perhaps one of the eminent historians could confirm if we are right.

 

By the way where on earth is Stephen Chambers? Does anyone know if he is okay? Seems to be months since he last posted.

 

Pete

 

It's my fault, I bought a melodeon off him and we haven't heard from him since. (even though I'm happy with the box!)

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And still no one game to answer to Peter's question? :(

 

Maybe, Peter, you should set it up as a poll....

That way, opinions could be anonymous! :unsure:

 

I suspect that it will only take one person to take a stab at giving a Jeffries production figure before the flood gates open. :D

 

MC

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Samantha, would you be aware of Tommy Williams? ... MC

 

Thank you Malcolm!

Samantha

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And still no one game to answer to Peter's question? :(

 

I suspect that it will only take one person to take a stab at giving a Jeffries production figure before the flood gates open. :D

I don't think the data exists to build a worthwhile answer. So here's a worthless one:

... Number of instruments built by Jeffries: somewhere between 1,000 and 50,000.

... Number of Jeffries instruments in existence today: somewhere between 500 and 10,000.

... Number of Jeffries instruments currently being played: at least 100.

 

.......................... B)

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And still no one game to answer to Peter's question? :(

 

I suspect that it will only take one person to take a stab at giving a Jeffries production figure before the flood gates open. :D

I don't think the data exists to build a worthwhile answer. So here's a worthless one:

... Number of instruments built by Jeffries: somewhere between 1,000 and 50,000.

... Number of Jeffries instruments in existence today: somewhere between 500 and 10,000.

... Number of Jeffries instruments currently being played: at least 100.

 

.......................... B)

 

 

Can't argue with any of that!

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And still no one game to answer to Peter's question? :(

 

I suspect that it will only take one person to take a stab at giving a Jeffries production figure before the flood gates open. :D

I don't think the data exists to build a worthwhile answer. So here's a worthless one:

... Number of instruments built by Jeffries: somewhere between 1,000 and 50,000.

... Number of Jeffries instruments in existence today: somewhere between 500 and 10,000.

... Number of Jeffries instruments currently being played: at least 100.

 

.......................... B)

Randy Merris has already made a stab at this, but since this is part of our second joint article on Jeffries, I won't add more until we release it. However its probably worth considering CJ's estate at death, around £11,000 gross and £6,500 net. If he made £5 profit per instrument, and never spent anything, we'd be talking around 1,300 - 2,200. So I think we could probably double those figures. Anybody want to continue this line further?

 

You can also consider Roger Digby's article on the Crabb family on this site -

The major mystery surrounds the earliest existing stock sheets which cover the years 1889-95. These show that at this time three 30 key Anglos were being made each week with a retail price of £3.5.0

If they had produced for Jeffries from say 1875 to 1895, thats 20 years at about 150 per year - say 3000. And you'd still have to add another 25-30 years of sales until Jeffries closure.

 

best wishes ..wes

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So we could be looking at up to 5,000 or 6,000 total production.

 

And with a comparatively high survival rate.

 

I do wonder about these "fake" Jeffries, as mentioned by Peter. I have handled a fairl number of concertinas over the years and I cannot honestly say that I have ever seen a so-called Jeffries that had any evidence of false labelling, but I have heard many stories about them.

 

Apocryphal???

 

Anyone with any first hand knowledge?

 

MC

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So we could be looking at up to 5,000 or 6,000 total production.

 

And with a comparatively high survival rate.

 

I do wonder about these "fake" Jeffries, as mentioned by Peter. I have handled a fairl number of concertinas over the years and I cannot honestly say that I have ever seen a so-called Jeffries that had any evidence of false labelling, but I have heard many stories about them.

 

Apocryphal???

 

Anyone with any first hand knowledge?

 

MC

 

 

I suppose the trouble would be with "fakes" is that say with an 1890's Crabb if properly stamped it would be identical to a Jeffries since thats what Jeffries was doing anyway.

 

If Wes's guesstimate is somewhere near then a pretty high percentage of survivors must exist compared to Lachenals for example. This must in part be due to the sense of "worth" placed on them by the pawn brokers.

 

Of course this brings around the other perennial topic of "what made Jeffries concertinas special?" The reeds, the reedframes, the reedpan, the materials?

 

(Its my can of worms and I want to open it :P)

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I do wonder about these "fake" Jeffries, as mentioned by Peter. I have handled a fairl number of concertinas over the years and I cannot honestly say that I have ever seen a so-called Jeffries that had any evidence of false labelling, but I have heard many stories about them.

 

Apocryphal???

 

Anyone with any first hand knowledge?

 

MC

 

 

Hi Malcolm,

 

I have come across at least two outright fakes and another that I am convinced was a fake but was unable to inspect properly.

 

With any luck there will be a photo below of a crudely cut 'Jeffries' endplate stamped C Jeffries. It is very obviously not original based on the fretwork alone....that is before we consider the fact that it is made of aluminium :o)

The ends were , I am sure, not of recent manufacture so I would suggest that such faking is not a new idea. I must confess to a certain sympathy to any attempts to 'ripping off' or hoodwinking a Pawnbroker :lol:

This concertina was given to me as a 'bag of bits' a few of which were salvageable but I have kept the ends as curiosities.

 

I came across a much better fretworked example in Ireland a few years ago. That one was stamped C.Jeffries as well, though this time in the usual position and in a similar style though slightly larger font.The instrument just did not look quite right and I asked to try it... it did not feel or play right either. The owner had recently paid £3000 for it and was absolutely delighted and proud as Punch of his 'bargain'.

In a session that evening, his instrument inhaled a speck of rubbish which jammed a reed. I offered to whip the end off and remedy the same and... lo and Behold.... a radial reedpan full of Wheatstone rivetted reeds....... I simply did not have the heart to break the news to him.

 

The pint he bought me had a sour taste I can tell you!

 

The third 'dodgy item bore a full Jeffries Cartouche which seemed accurate but just looked far too crisp. The quality of fretwork was definately lacking and the ends looked 50 years newer than the rest of the instrument. True it is only a gut feeling but those who know me will confirm that I have quite some 'gut' and have handled a very considerable number of Jeffries concertinas over the last 25 or so years. It is a worry though that such a modern day fake punch might well be in use out there and someone somewhere will be taken for an expensive ride.

 

Like you I have heard many tales of such fakes and a fair proportion of these from folks I know and trust. I suspect there are quite a few dotted round.

 

As to the question of how many were made I wouldn't like to guess. All I will say is that I am constantly amazed at the number that have appeared from attics and boxrooms as prices have risen over the years. Unscientific I know, but I have seen far, far more Jeffries instruments than top end Wheatstone Anglos in sessions over the years - So how many Wheatstone anglos were made ?

 

Regards to all

Dave

post-49-1139781173_thumb.jpg

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So we could be looking at up to 5,000 or 6,000 total production.

And with a comparatively high survival rate.

It is said that of the total production of Rolls Royce cars more than half are still on the road. I think that we have a similar situation and reason with Jeffries concertinas, i.e. a combination of good engineering and high esteem.

 

Of course this brings around the other perennial topic of "what made Jeffries concertinas special?" The reeds, the reedframes, the reedpan, the materials?

The reeds, dear boy, the reeds.

 

Chris

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Unscientific I know, but I have seen far, far more Jeffries instruments than top end Wheatstone Anglos in sessions over the years - So how many Wheatstone anglos were made ?

You aren't comparing like-with-like, Dave. Jeffries were 'producing' roughly 1870-1920,when the concertina boom was at its height. Apart from a few anglos in the early days, Wheatstone never produced them throughout Edward Chidley's period of control (roughly 1865-1900). EC felt that anglos were "mere toys". Only after he died and his sons took over did anything "non-English" really start to appear from Wheatstone.

The answer to your question is roughly 11,000 but most of those were made after 1938 (the 50,000+ series).

Edited by wes williams

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Of course this brings around the other perennial topic of "what made Jeffries concertinas special?" The reeds, the reedframes, the reedpan, the materials?

 

The Player ?? :lol:

 

Dave

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