Jump to content

Robert Gaskins

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
  • ICQ

Profile Information

  • Location
    London and San Francisco

Recent Profile Visitors

1,004 profile views

Robert Gaskins's Achievements

Advanced Member

Advanced Member (3/6)

  1. A calculator specifically for historical price comparisons of concertinas is online at Calculate Modern Values of Historic Concertina Prices. For 15 guineas, it gives a "year 2000 value in sterling" of £ 8,833.86 (in pounds and decimal pence). So that's a substantial fraction of a modern annual wage. The page at the link gives some explanation of the bases for the computation.
  2. A really excellent answer is available to this question (and to many others), a major historical study available in full text on the web, free. Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers: the Gendered Concertina in Victorian England, 1835–1870 by Allan W. Atlas Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, vol 39 (2006) iv + 235 pages Full text of the original publication is on the web at Atlas, Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers
  3. For Scotland, you might want to look at Stuart Eydmann's PhD thesis, The Life and Times of the Concertina: the adoption and usage of a novel musical instrument with particular reference to Scotland http://www.concertina.com/eydmann/life-and-times This much-anticipated study is the first book-length account of the history and development of the concertina, in the context of the people who played it and their music. It is based on field work as well as historical research, and deals with the concertina in traditional music, art music, sacred music, band music, the music hall, and many forms of popular music—reflecting the richness, contradictions, and complexities of music and society over the more than 150 years since the invention of the concertina as the high-tech sensation of its day. Twelve chapters, bibliography of more than 400 items, over 90 figures and musical examples, 365 pages. Text of thesis for the Ph.D. degree, Open University, 1995. Supervisors: Dr Peter Cooke and Dr Richard Middleton. The entire text with illustrations and examples is free on the web at the link above.
  4. From Robert Gaskins, "Baffles for Maccann Duet Concertinas": The first step is to acquire the proper leather. The range of leathers with different properties is astonishingly wide, but not many of them are useful for concertina baffles. All the leather varieties made for clothing or for upholstery are too soft--they drape easily, and they stretch, and both of these properties are fatal for baffles. Leathers which are sturdier are often thicker and thus not as useful in the constricted space available in a concertina end, or else so rigid and stiff that they might resonate. What is needed is leather that is thin, strong, fairly stiff but limp (not rigid), dimensionally-stable, and air-tight. Such leather is surprisingly difficult to find. I tried out samples of every plausible leather from Tandy Leather Company (now selling online exclusively) without finding a suitable choice, and had similar results from other online sources, including suppliers of leather for organ repair. I bought leathers with mixed success from specialist stores in London. Finally I found the ideal supplier: J. Hewit & Sons Ltd. of Edinburgh. These folks create wonderful leather, mostly for bookbinders but also for other purposes as various as bagpipes, and are traditional suppliers to concertina makers (the business goes back to at least 1806). Hewit has an comprehensive website with an admirable online store, making prompt and accurate deliveries to any part of the world. Full details are below under Suppliers. The best leather for baffles is goatskin, which has all the desired properties; this was traditionally referred to as "morocco" leather, which is goatskin treated to emphasize its natural grain (so-called "French Morocco" is a sheepskin imitation, to be avoided.) Hewit supplies "Chieftain Goat", which is traditional East Indian goatskin, re-tanned in Edinburgh, processed to a ravishing grain pattern, and colored with vegetable dyes to traditional colors. For light colors, they supply a very similar goatskin which is "alum tawed" (rather than tanned) to produce an etherial creamy white leather. After I finally found and bought some of this distinctive leather, I handed a small scrap of it to Steve Dickinson of C. Wheatstone & Co., who without any prompting immediately identified Hewit by name and went on to name the specific type of goatskin and even the specific color; it is the same leather that he sometimes uses for bellows. I should have known earlier to look for bookbinder's morocco leather if I had studied my concertina history more closely: "The bellows on these very first Wheatstone concertinas [to 1842] were of the finest glazed green morocco leather, of a similar quality to that used by bookbinders. The Wheatstone workshop ledgers show regular purchases of morocco leather and payment of bookbinders' bills for the production of these fine bellows. Indeed, similar techniques of neatly skiving, lapping, and folding the leather were used as in fine bindery practice, producing the neat joins and thin bellows folds found on all concertinas up to the end of 1842." Neil Wayne, "The Wheatstone English Concertina," The Galpin Society Journal 44 (1991): 117-49. Buying goatskin is not like buying an industrial product--this is a natural material, with lots of variations in the leather and in the processing and finishing. Rather than some neat rectangle, one buys a whole skin, in the shape of an animal with four legs and so forth, and every skin varies in size; pricing is by actual area, so each skin also varies a little in price, as it is bigger or smaller. The skins are roughly half a square meter to two-thirds of a square meter each, so the unit of sale is about half a square meter. Any skin in this size range should cut up into at least four baffles for a very large concertina (say, a 72-key AEola), or into at least nine baffles for a small concertina (say, a 46-key hexagon), so even the smallest skin should make two to four sets of baffles. Skins are priced by the square meter, about GBP 100 per square meter in standard grade II; since a typical skin is a bit over half a square meter, the price of a typical skin is around GBP 55 (USD 80, EUR 90). J. Hewit & Sons Ltd. Edinburgh Tanners and Leather Dressers and Suppliers for all Craft Bookbinding requirements (By appt to HM the Queen, manufacturers of leather) Information on J. Hewit & Sons, sellers of leather for concertina baffles P.S. David Barnert (above) referred to this material at the old Maccann Duet website; that old site is soon to be removed from the web, and it has not been updated in over a year. All of its content (plus several times more in new material) has been moved to the Concertina Library website.
  5. Another negative review of the Stagi Hayden Duet is at www.concertina.com/gaskins/which-duet "This article compares two concertinas: a Stagi Hayden Duet concertina (c. 2003), and a Lachenal Maccann Duet concertina (c. 1900). Each instrument has 46 keys, and each cost £500 ($800) ready to play ... ." Bob Tedrow http://hmi.homewood.net/hayden/ sure looks like the best source for a Hayden any time soon, as Ken suggests.
  6. I recently got a keyboard diagram for a "49-key Maccann" being sold by Button Box. I'm not sure that it's the same instrument as Mike bought, but it sounds like the same instrument, so I'll post the diagram here. This instrument is quite a bit different from a standard Maccann Duet 46-key layout. (1) It has an extra Bb key on the left side (top of column six). (2) It has an extra F key on the left side (placed where an air-valve would be). (3) It has an extra F key on the right side (bottom of column three). That accounts for the extra three keys. In addition, it has a number of perturbations which are not part of any standard Maccann layout: (4) On the left, three keys for A, B, and Eb have been interchanged (A changed to B, B changed to Eb, and Eb changed to A). (5) On the left, the low F key has been changed to low D (and the F moved to an extra key, see (2) ) (6) On the right, three keys for A, B, and Eb have been interchanged (A changed to B, B changed to Eb, and Eb changed to A). (7) On the right, two keys for Bb and C# have been interchanged (Bb changed to C#, C# changed to Bb). I attach below a copy of the keyboard diagram, marked up to show the Maccann variances. For the standard Maccann layout, I used the chart at www.concertina.com/maccann-duet There are quite a number of layouts for Maccann Duets of standard sizes, plus quite a number of variant arrangements, at How to Play Chords on Any Maccann Duet Concertina (Although, in fact, the standard chords which can be played on ALMOST any Maccann Duet concertina would not work on this instrument with all its variances.)
  7. Here are photographs of a well-documented 57-key Jeffries Maccann: www.concertina.com/jeffries/jeffries-maccann-no-6/ and its matching 76-page Maccann "chords tutor" (hand-written manuscript): www.concertina.com/maccann-duet/Jeffries-Maccann-Chords-Tutor-MS.pdf But Jeffries Maccann Duets, as Robin says, seem to be even less common than Jeffries-System Duets. I've seen one, and seen pictures of three. An interesting minor point is that some Jeffries Maccann Duets have reeds arranged radially (like Wheatstone and Lachenal examples), while other Jeffries Maccann Duets have reeds arranged "rectangularly" (like Jeffries Anglos). Bob Gaskins
  8. Well, I'll try a few of the answers; I think nobody knows them all. "10E" is the model number, in the new model-numbering scheme introduced after the second world war. The number combines the "size" and other features, and the letter is the "system"; so "10E" is a model-10 English, "2A" is a model-2 Anglo, "5D" is a model-5 Maccann Duet, and "3T" is a model-3 Triumph (Crane) Duet. You can find a Wheatstone pricelist from around 1950 at the Concertina Library, part of Chris Algar's large collection: www.concertina.com/pricelists/wheatstone-duet/Wh-Pricelist-All-c1950.pdf The only way we know what the model numbers really meant is by studying the pricelists in conjunction with the ledger entries. I would say "tenor treble". A slightly later pricelist, again from Chris Algar's archives, www.concertina.com/pricelists/wheatstone-duet/Wh-Pricelist-All-c1956.pdf lists the model 10E specifically among the "Tenor Trebles", describing it as 64 keys, AEola new octagonal model, ebony finish, raised keyboards, nickel-silver capped keys, six-fold bellows, large-scale steel reeds, in leather case. Size 7 1/2 inches. (Notes on the price lists say that Amboyna can be substituted at extra cost.) On the page you mention, www.horniman.info/DKNSARC/SD03/PAGES/D3P0580S.HTM I see only a couple of possibly missing numbers. The diagonal line across the columns below a fully-filled-in entry appears to mean "ditto" or "same as above", indicating a number of similar instruments made in a batch. Your #35773 looks to have been made with a second #35774. I don't know what the check mark by #35774 means, and I don't know whether its 1958 date is the date it was made, or the date that a concertina made around 1951 was finally sold.
  9. Daniel, This is a Wheatstone "duett" concertina; you can find a description, keyboard chart, pictures inside and out, and Wheatstone's tutor for the instrument at www.concertina.com/duett This 24-button duett was sold at least from the early 1850s, and was the least-expensive Wheatstone concertina. Wheatstone also published a dozen volumes of music for this instrument, all in C and G (of necessity). Its basic key arrangement is the core of what John Hill Maccann later expanded to the chromatic layout which he patented as the Maccann "New Chromatic Duet English Concertina". It does indeed superficially resemble German concertinas of the early 1850s, but the production engineering is extremely sophisticated which enabled it to be sold at very low prices. The best current thinking is that it was a Louis Lachenal design for Wheatstone, intended to go head-to-head with German imports at a competitive price, limited to C and G like the imports, but with English-quality action and with the simpler playing made possible by the duet arrangement (same note for each button on push and pull). Bob Gaskins
  10. Simon Thoumire, in his article on the web at http://www.concertina.com/eydmann/thoumire-technique, says that he uses on-concertina microphones fitted by Accusound http://www.accusound.com in the UK, and he is listed as a recommender on their website.
  11. I don't know of any rsimilar ecords of Jones instruments. Much of what is available about George Jones (half a dozen items) is gathered at Directory of George Jones in the Concertina Library (click to see that directory).
  12. All of the Duet concertina systems are reviewed at "Concertina Systems" at the Concertina Library including fingering diagrams for each, historical documents, and complete instruction books to download. The dealer with the largest inventory of Duet concertinas is Chris Algar at Barleycorn Concertinas who can advise on availability and prices, once you have settled on a system. He sells worldwide with courier delivery, and has many satisfied customers in the US. (Each line with underscores is a link to the corresponding website.)
  13. I believe the problem in finding this instrument is that it is only listed on eBay UK. There is an easy way to find eBay auctions worldwide, no matter where you are located: Worldwide eBay Listings for Concertinas This page returns the results of searches on 16 eBay sites all around the world--US, UK, Ireland, Australia, plus Canada and all the European sites, India, China, Taiwan, etc. By default it returns results for concertinas, but you can adjust the settings to search any one or more eBay national sites for anything. Clicking on any result opens the page on the eBay site in the normal way.
  14. I don't think it's appropriate to think of the Thummer-brand Jammer as "a good sounding electronic Hayden for mere $500". This instrument is considerably more than just an electronic Hayden. Note, for example, that the two halves of a Thummer are mirror-reversed! This is a considerable improvement over the Hayden design (and would be an equal improvement for the Maccann keyboard). As Jim Plamondon notes on his website, "Since a person's hands are mirror-images of each other, mirroring a pair of ThumFields can provide consistent fingering to each hand." And, as the video demos show, using your fingers to generate MIDI gives you a lot more choices than using your fingers to generate air going through reed-shoes. A Thummer promises to be considerably more interesting than a Hayden duet. (And, by the way, the quoted price is Australian $497--which is about USD $375 or GBP £200. That's extremely cost-effective.)
  15. FWIW, I bought a different Wheatstone AEola 46-key Maccann Duet last year, serial # 25457, completely restored, for £1,500. It turned out to be one of the very best values that I've ever gotten--an outstandingly responsive instrument. So £1,283 plus restoration appears to be a modest advance on that. The eBay instrument is considerably later (1928 versus 1912), but still in a good period. For the eBay instrument just sold, the Ledgers (http://www.horniman.info/DKNSARC/SD02/PAGES/D2P0890S.HTM) show it as a Model 36, octagonal, with nickel plated ends. The nearest Wheatstone Pricelist from Chris Algar's collection (http://www.concertina.com/pricelists/wheatstone-duet/) lists it as selling for about 24 pounds and 15 shillings (with the extras for its shape and metal ends). Plugging that into the "price updater" (http://www.concertina.com/calculator/) gives an estimated year 2000 equivalent price of about £3,600. So the eBay price is roughly one-third of the original value. (There's clearly a lot less demand these days!) It appears, impressionistically, that many Maccann Duets were made for professional Music Hall performers, who bought the high-quality instruments but usually in larger sizes (67 keys typically). There were also quite a number of 46-key instruments made, but often in the cheaper quality ranges. Thus it is fairly unusual to see an AEola Maccann with 46 keys--small size but high quality. (They are in the Ledgers, but for some reason not actually seen very often.) In any case, I'd think that 46-key AEola Maccanns are certainly rarer than 67-key Maccann AEola Maccanns. As to "only a 46, no matter how swanky", different people prefer different sizes depending on what kind of music they play. If you're trying to play arrangements by Henry Stanley or David Cornell, most of those are designed for 67 keys, sometimes doable on 57 keys. If you're playing in a "faking" style (chords on both sides, or chords on the left and melody on the right, or melody on the left and chords on the right, or mostly octave melody with variations on both sides) then 46 keys may well be plenty--especially if you are playing in C or G. I've known several people to buy 81-key Maccanns, but they have all (but one) later traded for smaller instruments. I myself have found my preference changing from 67 to 57 to 46, because of the convenient small size and light weight of the 46-key instruments.
  • Create New...