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Squiffything

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    Cambridgeshire, England

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  1. Just a little reminder on this one in case anyone had some christmas pennies they wanted to spend on a treat for themselves. We would be open to sensible offers.
  2. Having decided that we will never get around to playing her and because leaving her in a box without getting played isn't going to do any long term good Sarah has asked that we put up the Crabb midget concertina for sale. My thread on this is here: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=14758 We are not experts in this but discussions with others, investigations online and seeing what others have sold for has suggested that we should ask for offers around £1,200. I know that to have a new one made would cost this. It's a Crabb 12 button midget made in 1929 by Henry Thomas Crabb for his own personal use! It has a 9 fold bellows and is in lovely condition. Geoff Crabb has replaced a few of the pads that were sticking so mechanically it is now as it should be. If anyone is interested please contact me. We want it to go to a concertina player so we are avoiding the dreaded eBay route.
  3. Simon it was a great visit, Geoff really is a lovely guy to chat to and is extremely knowledgable about his craft. It will be for him to answer your questions which I'm sure he will. Jim it doesn't surprise me at all.
  4. Well we have had a great day. I travelled down to Bishops Stortford with Sarah to meet Geoff Crabb and his lovely wife Jean. I had arranged with Geoff to take the little concertina to reacquaint it and to let Geoff give us his professional opinion on its condition, how it sounds and plays and some info on its history. To recap on what I had found out about it: It is a Crabb Midget made in 1929 by Geoff's grandpa, Henry Thomas Crabb. It was made as his own midget and differs from the norm in a couple of ways. Normally these were built with either 6 or 8 fold bellows however this one has 9 folds. It has twelve buttons but positioned slightly different from the norm. When chatting to Geoff he noticed this and said that it might have been done this way as his Grandpa's preference. Unfortunately a year after making it, Geoff's grandpa passed away and the company passed to his father 'Harry', who at the age of 19 took over the well established, well respected company. Whilst it was a different era then, I just can't imagine what it must have been like for a guy of that age to take on that kind of responsibility. Geoff has a lovely folder of photo's about the business and the family and he showed us a photo of Harry as young man standing in front of the shop in Liverpool Road. It was a year after he took over in 1930 and he looked like a guy who was happy with his lot. It has been well documented on the interweb the history of the business but, and I discussed this with Geoff, I was surprised that the guy I was meeting, the guy who remained as the last surviving maker involved with the firm, was this ordinary working class North Londoner. I have to admit I was a little bit in awe of meeting this guy who, in the concertina world, is a bit of a celebrity. I had my ideas about what this man might be like. OK I'd already said to him, through emails, that I had seen his photo on the 'Who are we thread' on the forum and commented that I had laughed with Sarah that he didn't look like the bearded, Morris dancing, real ale drinking concertina type. But I was kind of expecting him to be a chap that was a fourth generation, high quality instrument business making owner. Large family estate house, Bentley/Rolls Royce on the drive. A posh bloke! How wrong can you be and I'm sure the guys who personally know Geoff will be laughing at this out loud. Now, my wife is a Tottenham girl, and as Geoff's wife is a Tottenham girl also, they immediately hit it off, with Jean chatting about the old sights and places they both remembered. I, in turn, immediately found Geoff to be a lovely guy, easy to talk to and laugh with. I know Geoff will not want me to tell you all this but despite the persona he gives off on the forum as a quiet, helpful but discrete fellow he is the funniest bloke you could have an afternoon with. Both Sarah and I were in stitches as he and Jean recalled stories about the business, their life in London and the experiences that they have had with people met through the concertina world. I'm not going to spend time recounting all these but one that I will mention gives a little bit of an insight into his Dads work ethic, the nature of the guy and the way the business was run. The making of the 'tinas' took place in the workshop behind the shop. If a guy came into the shop to browse it was fine. If however that guy decided to put his two penneth into how they could improve the production or manufacture of these quality hand made instruments, Dad would stick his head out from the back workshop, ask if the person if he was buying, and if not, in a typically North London way, politely tell him to 'vacate' the premises and let the guys get on with making tinas for people who actually wanted them. He knew what he was doing, knew how much work was put into making them and would not want time wasted. Geoff's way of recalling this was so funny and I'm sure you can imagine the way he told this. That work ethic would have them working from early morning to at least six o clock in the evening, Monday to Saturday. It was longer before the family moved out of the shop premises into a home down the road. Before then it would be normal for dad to go back to the workbench after his evening meal until late in the evening. Geoff looked over the little Tina and pulled out his own Midget that he had made in 2008. We put them next to each other and it was like seeing twins. These two were separated by eighty years and yet they were almost identical. There were minor differences and Geoff explained that his had a plastic veneer around the endbox sides as it resisted showing the knocks and scratches that occur during normal use. He told us that ours had 'ebonised' pear wood veneered sides. The fretwork on each were both hand cut but what showed ours as having the age was the circular pattern as opposed to the hexagonal pattern on the later ones. Ours also has the Crabb name hand engraved rather than the later stamped version. Apart from that, and the slightly different button positions mentioned earlier, they were almost identical. Geoff had made his four years ago yet it was from the same patterns that are over eighty plus years old. He then showed us some of his other beautiful 'tinas, English, Anglo & Duet including a fantastic Anglo Geoff made at the time of our Queens Silver Jubilee with a royal crest and dated. Each one a work of art and having a quality of sound that blew me away sending shivers through me. Each was housed in its own box that in turn oozed quality. True masterpieces. He explained the differences between the instruments, the button layouts and how they related to the scales on a piano, I'm no musician yet the way he explained it, it all made sense. He also explained the way the buttons on our little one were set out and why. Geoff told me that he still makes the occasional instrument but unlike the work times when deadlines were met and orders needed to be filled, now, it's just because he can. Jean rolled her eyes a few times and Sarah had laughed with her at my interest and Geoff's enthusiasm that is still there after all these years of working in the industry. To me it was a total pleasure and privilege to be chatting and laughing with this lovely couple and to listen to a true master talking about his skills, his experience and techniques.
  5. Hi Randy and thanks for responding. I am trying to find out a little bit more of the history of the Crabb midgets purely for my own interest. When it was posted that you had taken along a miniature to the recent meet I was interested to know what you had (if it was a Crabb midget or one of the other companies miniatures). The pics posted are interesting. The numbers on those are later than ours yet the Crabb markings seem to be Crabb only whereas ours shows Crabb and Son. Geoff Crabb hopefully might be able to clarify why this might be. You will see he notes earlier that the company started making these in 1929 which would have been Crabb and Son. I wonder if the Crabb only name was used due to the limited space on the midgets. We have 4 of the 57 12 keys and one of the 18 keys Only 76 more to find I'm on a mission.
  6. Sounds like your well on the way to joining the concertina lovers community! It gets addictive I warn you. By the way - here's a tongue in cheek warning against becoming a hoodie - http://ukesnotdead.bandcamp.com/track/oi-kid-dont-be-a-hoody (lyrics perhaps not quite suitable for your young'un) Tom Hee hee she'd like that Tom. 16 this weekend but still happy to sit with me for a while and play with the little one and a mouth organ until she got board and went back up to her room where Facebook/twitter/whatever else was calling her coz she hadn't replied for twenty minutes phht what is the world coming to?
  7. Well it appears that our little concertina may have a big brother. I have been speaking to the family as I know that Sarah's dad had a number of instuments that were left to the kids when he passed away. Sarah's brother tells me that he had the other concertina and knows it's a Crabb. He still lives in Tottenham and had it looked over some years ago at the Crabb shop. He thinks one of the buttons is broken/not working but wants to keep it the way it was when it was passed to him. He is coming up to ours at the weekend and if he can find it in his flat then he'll bring it up with him for me to have a look at. He remembers that his dad had it specially built for him by Crabbs and he thinks at the time he paid around £600 although he originally thought it was the one that Sarah has that was the commissioned one. I'm interested to see what he has and when I get to look it over I'll post up the serial number and some pictures. Last night our youngest and I had the little 'tina out and were pootling with some notes (remember neither of us can play any instrument). (see above post for our Charlies attempts at going through the notes ) The little one sounds lovely and after working through the note order I was starting to put together the basics of Old Lang Syne. It's hard work when you don't know what your doing and every now and then a button would stick and the note wouldn't play. It's also dificult to keep the airflow moving whilst your trying to concentrate on the note order. Oh and one other thing, the dog and the cat went crazy! It must be the high pitch or something but they were both at my feet wondering where the noise was coming from. Already I have an appreciative audience
  8. oh no our little hoodie got hold of the little 'tina! Still it gives an insight into how it sounds........ Well sort of
  9. Thank you Geoff for the info. I have had a couple of PM's from Geoff about our little 'tina and having checked with him first I am very excited to say that ref no 9039 was made in 1929 by his Grandfather Henry Thomas Crabb for his own personal use! He tells me that his Grandfather passed away a year later and the company passed on to his father at the age of 19. No records of when it was sold on by the family or who had it between it being sold and it coming back to the shop. Sarah's dad purchased it in 1983 and paid £275 which for him was a lot of money for a London bricklayer with six kids. The receipt is in the box and signed by Geoffs brother Henry Neville Crabb Also in the box is the key/button layout Another interesting thing is that it has a nine fold bellow. Geoff tells me that the max would be eight so unique in its build. Does this mean that it was the prototype for the Crabb miniature concertina that ran from 1929 to 1987 when the company closed? Geoff has invited us to take it along to him for him to cast his expert eye over and let us know if anything needs to be done to keep it in top condition. I've asked him for a demo of how it should sound so the video phone will be to hand to capture what may be an even rarer site With his blessing I hope I can ask him lots of questions about his families company and the manufacture of these amazing machines.
  10. More info, More info...... Please May I ask who the C.net member was? Randy Merris. Search for "Merris" on c.net, you can PM him. Randy's cnet moniker is Dowright. Greg Thanks Guys, I'll send him a message. Things are happening about our little gem but I need to get a message before I can say anything more. I am just a little bit honoured and proud.
  11. More info, More info...... Please May I ask who the C.net member was?
  12. Chris and Tom Thanks for your replies, I have sent Mr Crabb a PM so hopefully he will see that and have a looksee at this post. I have been trying to find some information about it and had seen the video linked. I've also found these: I've also read the interview/article by Roger Digby in which Mr Crabb's brother refers to 12 minitures being made in 1960. I do not know if the brothers made any others and hope Geoffrey Crabb can throw some information on this.
  13. The fifth pic shows a number 9039 but I'm not sure if that's the serial number or not. If not where would it be? I'm hoping Mr Crabb might be able to give a little info on it.
  14. Good evening people, I'm new here and have a little gem to share with you. I came across the site having been looking for information about a little concertina my wife and I found in the loft. I say found but I should have said relocated because my good lady knew it was there but hadn't seen it in years. It belonged to her late father and was left to her when he passed away at the end of the 1980's I believe Mr Geoff Crabb signs in on here now and again and it is possible he may have known my wife's late father. He was a builder by trade living in Tottenham but using this and a number of other concertinas, piano accordions banjos and harmonicas he used to do a bit of busking in the N London area. His name was Cyril Lewis so if Mr Crabb or any other London players can remember him please say hi. The little concertina is in great condition and still holds a lovely note. One or two of the buttons are a little stiff but all work. The bellows are intact and show no signs of splitting or cracks. Any info about the little gem would be appreciated although as it is the only thing my wife has from her father it's staying in the family. I may even try and learn to get a tune out of her
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