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Jeffries Multibutton Concertina


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#19 Robin Madge

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:25 AM

Who plays Jeffries duet? Not me but...

We came across a good Jeffries duet player when we on holiday in Cornwall last summer. We called in at the Cadgwith Folk club on the Lizard (Cadgwith Inn, Tuesdays) and he seemed to be a local there. He started one or two tunes in Eb, but I had my Bb/F with me and Anne is quite happy on English in that key so it was the attending melodian players who were out in the cold!

I seem to recall that there is another player who busks in Bath occasionally, including classical music in his repertoire.

Robin

#20 David Barnert

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:16 AM

The only Jeffries Duet player around these parts (and he's excellent) is Nick Robertshaw (his web site was mentioned early in this thread) in Washington, DC. I wouldn't be surprised if he's got the only one on the continent.

#21 Alan Turnball

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:45 AM

Hi,

It does seem that there are quite a few around who know this Duet system! For those interested, I am borrowing a camara, and will post some pictures up on this thread in the near future. Those who know can then pass a more informed opinion.

Regards
Alan

#22 Alan Turnball

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 07:09 AM

Hi,

Here is an initial picture of one end. I have been told that it was probably originally made in b flat, but has been changed sometime early last century to C.

Regards
Alan

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#23 Robert Gaskins

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 07:02 PM

I've never seen or heard of a Jeffries-made Maccann duet, though I wouldn't consider it impossible, since I have a Jeffries-made Crane duet.

Jim,

Here's a link to a description of a 57-key Jeffries Maccann Duet (serial No. 6), with a large number of photographs of the instrument, inside and out:

Jeffries 57-key Maccann Duet No. 6

And here's a link to the 76-page manuscript "chords tutor" for Maccann Duet which was found in the case of this instrument; it has resemblances to other manuscript "tutors" which are known to have come from Jeffries.

Jeffries 57-key Maccann Duet Chords Tutor

Bob Gaskins

#24 JimLucas

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 03:32 AM

I've seen it. It's a Jeffries duet, now in C, though the reeds indicate a complete retuning, so it was probably originally in Bb. I'll be sayíng more later today, and posting some pictures. But I arrived home about 01:30 after 4 days away, so I have some catching up to do.

Please be patient.

#25 JimLucas

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 11:38 AM

...the reeds indicate a complete retuning....

CLARIFICATION: I was misunderstood.

I did not mean that a complete retuning needs to be done, but that one has already been done at some time in the past (by Crabb?). There has been extensive "new" filing on all the reeds. That is why I think it was originally in Bb, though it is now in C.

#26 JimLucas

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 07:48 PM

I have now put up the photos and comments resulting from my visit to see the instrument in question. They can be found at

http://www.nonce.dk/...es/fotolink.htm

The array of photos uses images of 9-12 Kb each. Click on any one to view an approximately 400 Kb version.

Sorry for the delay. Putting up that stuff was only one of several things today that took longer than I had hoped.

........... /Jim

#27 Paul Groff

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 09:30 PM

Jim,

Thank you for your appraisal of this instrument; it could be a model for anyone wanting to describe an old concertina, for sale or otherwise. I wish I had used photographic documentation of this sort when I first started looking at old concertinas (some of the first ones I saw were among the most interesting, as I now know but didn't then...). You have done a great service to Alan and to all interested in his concertina, or Jeffries duets.

Of course, you are thinking of how the photos, etc. could have been better -- but they show so much. * The same with your very well-informed verbal evaluation. I particularly appreciated your efforts (far too rare in the concertina world) to consider what is fair to both parties of a possible sale, to the instrument and its history, and to the future of the playing community for this instrument.

There are always more dimensions to consider when trying to "decode" the information in a hand-made musical instrument that has been around so much longer than you or I, but you have very thoroughly covered much that will be important to the seller and buyer. And I'm sure it was all for the love of the concertina that you took so much time and care.

Re: conversions; the Jeffries duets and anglos can be so similar, and modern players of the J. duet so rare, that it is easy to understand why this has been done. I sympathize with the Jeffries duet players (you included, I think!) who hate to see a great instrument taken away from them (or their possible students and successors). The brute force solution for them is to be willing to pay for the instruments what the parts are worth; this will insure they gain control of the duets and can preserve them. However they may find as I have with the original-temperament anglos that they can only afford to save a few instruments at most by actually buying them. Ultimately they will have to win the hearts and minds of concertina players, convincing more players to take up the system by playing great music on the instrument. Surely it is the brilliant players on the anglo who have led to such an interest in that instrument among amateurs. I am thinking about giving the Jeffries duet system another try myself, but it is those who make it their life's work who will really be the best advocates for it.

But there is an interim solution that should be considered. The economics of the concertina business being what they are, I'm sure duet-to-anglo conversions will continue (by hobbyists, even if the professionals were to stop). Can we agree at a minimum that such conversions should be done in a reversible way (e. g. by building an anglo around some of the duet's reeds, without changing the reedframe dimensions, retaining the duet parts, and documenting the process)? This will allow Jeffries duet players of the future to reconstitute the original instruments if and when there develops sufficient demand for them. Actually if you think about this process, it is more conservative of originality than the standard repitching of old concertinas, because with such rebuilding you truly can "go back." Even the new anglo parts would not be wasted when the Jeffries duet was re-incarnated; new reeds could be made for the anglo at that time. There are also other ways to make the conversions that are also more-or-less reversible, as long as this reversibility is appreciated as important and the appropriate steps are taken to document the process and save leftover parts.

Of course, part of the charm of the concertina world is that there is and has always been so much opportunity for hobbyists to modify and rebuild them, and scruples over ethics of restoration must always be kept in balance with the need to encourage dedicated players, our rarest concertina-related resource.

Since this particular duet seems to be working so well, I agree with Jim that it really should go to a duet player. I'm sure it will inspire its new owner to practice the long hours needed to master the system and create music worthy of such a fine machine.

BTW, I have wondered if some Jeffries duets were actually converted (possibly by the Jeffries shop) TO the system FROM 4 - row Jeffries anglos. One little, early Jeffries duet in particular comes to mind: lots of solder added - very artfully - to lower the pitch of little reeds... This is another speculation on my part, and someone out there may be able to tell me that this hypothesis is definitely known to be untrue. Help here?

Thanks again Jim,

Paul

* Addition to this post: Did anyone else notice that the "N"s as stamped in the Aldershot Rd. address are reversed? If the stamp were made correctly but used upside-down, it would not look like this; this is an incorrectly-made stamping tool. And I remember the same error in the word "LONDON" stamped in another Jeffries I once saw. Could this faulty "N" stamp be used to link some instruments as having been made, repaired, or resold by the Aldershot Road shop, or some other portion or period of the Jeffries family business(es)? Also note the way the Crabb stamp has been crossed over. This specific Crabb stamp, with its reference to accordion repair, may be dateable. ONE possible (speculative) scenario for the history of this machine is that it was an early one (made before those with the Praed St. address stamped in the oval), then resold, repaired, and/or retuned at different times by Whitten and Crabb before being resold, repaired and/or retuned by the Aldershot Road shop, at which time the Crabb stamp was crossed over, the indignant "C. Jeffries is the maker" inscription added, and the Aldershot Road address with its faulty stamp added for good measure. On the other hand, it's hard to tell for sure but to me the metal buttons may be the larger type, which may mean the instrument is post 1890s; the action, reeds, etc. could also give a clue. Another of our contributors may be better able to explain these details and it would be fun and instructive to hear their suggestions.

Edited by Paul Groff, 29 November 2003 - 10:34 AM.


#28 Chris Timson

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 10:44 AM

I sympathize with the Jeffries duet players (you included, I think!) who hate  to see a great instrument taken away from them (or their possible students and successors).

Completely agree. I have been looking for a Jeffries duet such as this for years (admittedly not very hard) and it's probably no surprise that I have an offer in on this one. But the idea of scrapping these idiosyncratic instruments for their reeds causes me a pain not disimilar to tootheache.

I have said elsewhere that I regard myself as less an owner of my concertinas as their custodian. Virtually every concertina I have played has had its own individual character, (a fact that never ceases to amaze and delight me) and I just don't feel we have the right to scrap or modify one purely on commercial grounds. Perhaps that sounds precious, but there it is.

Chris

#29 Alan Turnball

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 12:21 PM

Hi,

Rest assured that I will not sell it to someone I don't feel
comfortable with. I recognise now the significance that is
put on such an object in its (nearly) original condition. I
believe all those who are seriously interested in it do
want it for its duet character. Because one offer is from
overseas, and they will not be in the UK until 19 December, I
will probably await that time for anything like a final
decision.....

Many thanks for your interest!

And yes, the inverted "N" on the address is interesting, and
I'm sure some detective work will be undertaken on this
disucussion forum!!

Kind regards
Alan

#30 Chris Ghent

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 11:25 PM

[quote name='Paul Groff' date='Nov 28 2003, 09:30 PM']
* Addition to this post: Did anyone else notice that the "N"s as stamped in the Aldershot Rd. address are reversed? If the stamp were made correctly but used upside-down, it would not look like this; this is an incorrectly-made stamping tool. Unquote

There are a couple of similarly stamped concertinas around here and they are a real dog's breakfast. Rather than a poorly made (spelled) tool it looks like a set of individual letter stamps and an individual with low standards (otherwise he would have got the point after doing the first one badly).

Quoting Paul...

And I remember the same error in the word "LONDON" stamped in another Jeffries I once saw. Could this faulty "N" stamp be used to link some instruments as having been made, repaired, or resold by the Aldershot Road shop, or some other portion or period of the Jeffries family business(es)? Also note the way the Crabb stamp has been crossed over. This specific Crabb stamp, with its reference to accordion repair, may be dateable. Unquote

Geoff Crabb recently told me the "accordion repairs " part of this stamp was chiselled off, he thought in the fifties, as they had too much concertina work to do accordions. My Jeffries has it inside also.

Quoting Paul
ONE possible (speculative) scenario for the history of this machine is that it was an early one (made before those with the Praed St. address stamped in the oval), then resold, repaired, and/or retuned at different times by Whitten and Crabb before being resold, repaired and/or retuned by the Aldershot Road shop, at which time the Crabb stamp was crossed over, the indignant "C. Jeffries is the maker" inscription added, and the Aldershot Road address with its faulty stamp added for good measure. On the other hand, it's hard to tell for sure but to me the metal buttons may be the larger type, which may mean the instrument is post 1890s; the action, reeds, etc. could also give a clue. Another of our contributors may be better able to explain these details and it would be fun and instructive to hear their suggestions. Unquote

I enjoy reconstructing the possible reasons for these things. My take on the crude stampings goes like this... Perhaps one of the later Jeffries makers was in the habit of buying Jeffries concertinas when they turned up cheap, and reselling them after a little tickle up inside. I say this because it seems to me hard to imagine a world in which anyone might so change the appearance of a machine owned by someone else.

He put the stamp on in order to make sure the next time they were not wanted, or needed work done, they would come back to him, hence the address. If there was at any point two Jeffries working in different places this would underline the need to be the one they came to.

Chris

Edited by Chris Ghent, 29 November 2003 - 11:30 PM.


#31 Paul Groff

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 12:36 AM

Chris

I think I agree all around, but I see I was not as clear as I should have been.. Yes, they are individual letter stamps but the "N" is faulty. And yes, I agree (and had meant to imply) that the Aldershot road shop (home) of one of the Jeffries sons was where the concertina was stamped with that address, when resold, repaired and/or retuned, some decades after it was first made. You make a good point that the first of these three possibilities (resold) is most likely. Finally, I think you are right that the purpose of the stamping was to gain repeat business (as was the purpose of the internal stamps). It reminds me of an urban wall with successive waves of "tagging."

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff, 30 November 2003 - 12:47 AM.


#32 JimLucas

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 03:21 AM

Folks (especially Chris and Paul), I think the last few posts have been more in the History realm than Buy & Sell (which I take to mean buying and selling of particular instruments). Posts about the sale of this particular Jeffries should remain here, but discussion of the inverted "И" stamp and how instruments generally got multiple stamps, etc. have more general historical interest.

Any chance of moving the discussion there if it continues?

#33 Alan Turnball

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 06:34 PM

Hi,

After all the discovery, I thought it would be helpful to present the state of play with my Jeffries.

I have been contacted by a number of "you", and can confirm that I will probably decide upon which offer to pursue on or shortly after the Solstice (21 Dec).

Any futher offers will need to be at least £1000 upwards.

Many thanks to you all for your interest and enthusiasm for the instrument!!

Kind regards

Alan

#34 David Barnert

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 11:31 PM

I wrote:

The only Jeffries Duet player around these parts (and he's excellent) is Nick Robertshaw (his web site was mentioned early in this thread) in Washington, DC. I wouldn't be surprised if he's got the only one on the continent.

This afternoon I was reminded that there is a second Jeffries Duet on the American continent. Not only that, but it lives a few miles from my house and has been in it.

There may not be a third.

Edited by David Barnert, 07 December 2003 - 11:33 PM.


#35 Chris Timson

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 04:31 AM

This afternoon I was reminded that there is a second Jeffries Duet on the American continent. Not only that, but it lives a few miles from my house and has been in it.

Name him, name him

Chris

#36 malcolm clapp

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 07:09 AM

A very similar Jeffries Bros Duet 50 button with C core and living in Australia will shortly be going on eBay with a A$3,000 reserve. Fully restored by yours truly some years ago, but rarely played, and virtually in mint condition.
If any one is interested in making an offer before it goes to auction, please email me and I shall pass your correspondence on to the owner.
Thank you,
Malcolm




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