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Concertina Mystery

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#1 littlebearkay

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 09:27 AM

Good Afternoon!
 
I have recently returned to my apartment in New York after a brief visit back home to PA to take care of my aging Grandmother.  While I was there, she entrusted me to a mysterious family instrument: an old Anglo-style concertina.  I've been doing extensive research on it but I'm having a hard time narrowing down the details of this cute little squeeze box.  I wish to tinker and refurbish it but first I'd like to assess it's value (I don't want to ruin something precious). 
 
I'm in the process of figuring out how to resize my photos to post so you can have the clarity of seeing what I'm discussing, but here are some of the defining qualities:
 
-Anglo-style (diatonic)
-Key of C/G
-20 (21) buttons
-13 bellow folds (which seems like A LOT) with three of the sections having metal corners
-the end plates are made of perforated metal (not screen)
-there is no brand stated (and I regretfully have no case for it) but it has a little piece that says "DOUBLE ORGAN" on it as well as a stamp in white lettering on the wood where the leather handles attach that says "GERMANY USSR OCCUPIED"
-it is not a very decorative piece.  The bellows are in good shape but instead of leather edging they appear to be instead edged with something resembling canvas-tape. When I opened up one of the ends (it has 4 screws attaching it) out of delicate curiosity I found the wooden plate that houses the button/lever assembly to be tacked into the top and also edged with tape so I didn't want to open anything up.  I just took a look at the reeds, which honestly were in pretty good shape from what I could see.  The instrument plays incredibly sharp but it's held it's tune with itself--which I find admirable.
 
I'll be uploading pictures as soon as I find an acceptable way to shrink them.  Ask me all the questions, I want to know more about this cool little guy!
 
Yours in writing,
 
-Kay


#2 Mikefule

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 01:40 PM

A photo or two would be helpful.  However, the better quality old instruments tend to have leather hinged/edged bellows and somewhere between 5 and 7 folds.  I tend to associate the metal decorative trim on the bellows more with the "novelty" end of the market than the "quality instrument" end - but that is only based on the specific examples I've seen and played. The "USSR occupied" bit clearly dates it post war.  It is probably not valuable in cold hard cash terms.

 

For comparison, in the UK, 20 button 19th century Lachenals change hands for about £350 to £500 or so depending on key and condition.



#3 David Barnert

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 02:27 PM

For comparison, in the UK, 20 button 19th century Lachenals change hands for about £350 to £500 or so depending on key and condition.

 

I’m not sure I’d compare it to a Lachenal Anglo (“Anglo-German”). The Lachenal uses real concertina reeds and quality English construction methods developed by Wheatstone. This sounds like a mass-produced German novelty with less expensive accordion reeds. I suspect it hasn’t been played much, otherwise it would be falling apart.

 

Does it really say “GERMANY USSR OCCUPIED” in English?



#4 Daniel Hersh

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 01:21 AM

 

For comparison, in the UK, 20 button 19th century Lachenals change hands for about £350 to £500 or so depending on key and condition.

 

I’m not sure I’d compare it to a Lachenal Anglo (“Anglo-German”). The Lachenal uses real concertina reeds and quality English construction methods developed by Wheatstone. This sounds like a mass-produced German novelty with less expensive accordion reeds. I suspect it hasn’t been played much, otherwise it would be falling apart.

 

Does it really say “GERMANY USSR OCCUPIED” in English?

 

 

Yes, probably German, and not as good as a Lachenal, but it's more than a "novelty" and could be good enough to use to start learning to play.  It's probably not worth tuning though.  Retail value is probably no more than $100 or so,



#5 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 06:39 AM

From the description it sounds very much like a German concertina from Klingenthal. The "GERMANY USSR OCCUPIED" clinches it, and also dates it to the time between 1945 (collapse of the III Reich) and 1949 (founding of the German Democratic Republic, or GDR, which we used to call "East Germany").

 

You say the reeds look in good shape, but how are they mounted? 5 press and 5 draw reeds on one large zinc plate, or 1 press and 1 draw on several small metal plates?

In the first case, it would be traditionally German built, in the latter case, an accordeon-reeded hybrid.

 

Whether it's as good as a Lachenal or not, it will certainly have a different timbre, because that's what was aimed for. The best-known type of German concertina today is the Bandoneon, which has more in common with the harmonium than with the English-built concertinas.

 

BTW, the phrase "Made in Germany" is always in English, because at some time around 1900 (historians please correct me) the British government required products imported from Germany to carry a warning that they were of inferior quality. Since then, the Germans have worked hard - and successfully - to make the "Made in Germany" label a seal of high quality.

 

 

Cheers,

John



#6 littlebearkay

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:23 AM

I just gotta say: this is a great site.  I have gotten more traction here on a simple forum question that doesn't even include images than weeks of emailing pictures and stories to music/antique/junk shops. I'm waiting for a few downsized pics to transfer through the ether to my computer, but then I think I'll be able to get up a picture of the whole concertina, with the "DOUBLE ORGAN" sticker on it (it's not a contemporary "sticker" but I don't know what else to call it) visible, as well as a pic of the reed assembly from my single furtive look inside.  

 

...I will say, given my experience with instruments of all sorts, the construction I've encountered begets a "passable beginner level" vibe--I don't get the feeling this was an object meant to have parts replaced or a great number of things done to it before the owner basically leveled up to something better. I'm somewhat of a tinkerer and wouldn't mind the opportunity to have a bit of a Frankenstein machine -- it allows me to learn a great deal about the mechanics and construction of a thing as I go on the journey of fixing it's failures, so learning it's not something of great value would honestly be the best case result :)

 

Aforementioned images should now be included in the reply.  And yes, the "GERMANY USSR OCCUPIED" text is certainly in English (as is the sticker).

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#7 littlebearkay

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:51 AM

I found a clearer picture from a different angle of the reed plates.

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#8 littlebearkay

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 09:04 AM

for those who are curious :)

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#9 Mikefule

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 04:34 PM

 

For comparison, in the UK, 20 button 19th century Lachenals change hands for about £350 to £500 or so depending on key and condition.

 

I’m not sure I’d compare it to a Lachenal Anglo (“Anglo-German”). The Lachenal uses real concertina reeds and quality English construction methods developed by Wheatstone. This sounds like a mass-produced German novelty with less expensive accordion reeds. I suspect it hasn’t been played much, otherwise it would be falling apart.

 

Does it really say “GERMANY USSR OCCUPIED” in English?

 

I was trying to put it nicely.  Between the lines, I meant, you can get a decent Lachenal 20 for £350 to £500 so this cheap and cheerful one will be worth substantially less.  I think the rest of my post made it clear that the concertina described is not especially good and is not worth much "in cold hard cash terms".  However, it is of sentimental value to the owner and that alone deserves some respect.



#10 Don Taylor

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 07:38 PM

The reeds look clean and free of rust. If it is in tune with itself then leave them alone. Some of the valves (the thin leather strips over the reeds) might do with replacing. If the action is as clean then you should keep it and enjoy it for what it is then, if you like playing the concertina, buy a decent vintage model and keep this as a family heirloom.

If you sold it on eBay then I suspect you be would doing well to get $100 for it.

Edited by Don Taylor, 19 August 2017 - 07:39 PM.






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