[[[I can't think of any other type of musical instrument where the price of the very best instrument that money can buy is as little as 5000 [UK sterling] ]]]
To a US buyer, that is like eight grand. Nobody wants or needs "the best instrument that money can buy." What's wanted and needed are excellent, super, wonderfully playable instruments. And there are many, many musical instruments where excellent, super, wonderful examples are available at a fraction of that price. A fraction. Guitar, both acoustic and electric, is a dramatic example given that it is fully chromatic and can play any genre of music in any key. And you can get a superb acoustic guitar for under $3k, and a totally playable, responsive, fast, comfortable one with a solid wood top, for $200-300. Then there is fiddle, another fully chromatic, play-in-any-key, play-anything on it, super-portable instrument. Who wants or needs a Stradivarius? Just a damn good, rich-sounding, responsive fiddle/violin---and they are to be had, again, for a fraction of the price of that Wheatstone. Mandolins, another example. Yes, the "best mandolin money can buy" could be ten grand, but you can spent two grand and have a totally wonderful, lifetime, pro-grade keeper. Same with banjos.
Accordions--heavier, but astonishing what you can do on them. In addition to the increasing numbers of very playable new Asian instruments as discussed above, we also have newly-made, perfectly playable German Weltmeisters which are quite affordable, as well as gobs and gobs of superb used accordions--the unisonoric market, at least. PAs in the U.S. and CBAs in France. That won't last forever, but as of right now, fabulous accordions with multiple reed voicings, sound chambers, and gosh-knows-what else, are to be had for pennies to the pound of what these vintage concertinas are now costing.
I don't know if it's Geoff or who, but whoever it is that has pointed out it is the market, I think has the nut of it. If enough people were making them, which requires a big market, the prices would come down. This is the reason the Chinese have not yet crossed the bar in making playable, fast, durable concertinas. The market is not big enough for an entrepreneur to go over there and supervise it. That is what how well-made Asian banjos and guitars began to happen. Entrepreneurs who were also obsessively in love with these instruments seeded and supervised production operations over there that began to turn out good stuff. There are lots of crummy Asian guitars and banjos, but there are really great ones now. The same could be the case for concertinas, but the market is not big enough for it to be worth anyone's while to do it right.
Edited by ceemonster, 16 November 2015 - 11:09 PM.