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Richardcarlin

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  1. Boris did not do his own repairing. He mostly used Alex's Accordion repair shop on 48th Street although also used Accordion-o-rama which at the time had a Wheatstone-trained repair person. I recall reading that Alex finally retired at the age of 90!
  2. When I interviewed the Fayre Four, they said it was Wheatstone managers the Chidley brothers who suggested their concertinas be gold, as black would be "too funereal" for young ladies to play. These were not gold plated at all--the ends were simply wood stained or painted gold, as were the leather bellows. Originally, the quartet played instruments made by George Jones who also made custom instruments for their father (half of the famous Webb Brothers circus duo). Their Wheatstones were made sometime in the '20s, I believe. During the mid and later '30s, Wheatstone began making highly ornamented instruments mostly for export sale to South Africa. These had tortoise shell, amboyna wood, or gold-plated ends; gold fittings; and so-called Moroccan leather bellows. I have seen tortoise shell instruments as large as a baritone model.
  3. The serial numbers on Wheatstone concertinas can be deceiving -- sometimes new numbers were assigned to older instruments after they were repaired by Wheatstone; sometimes older numbers were put on used instruments sold by Wheatstone (even back in the day, people thought older instruments were better than new ones). Sometimes there is a gap in the numbering that is later filled in -- creating numbers out of chronological order. Instruments sometimes have different numbers stamped on their insides than on the outside -- and sometimes the inner numbers are incomplete (just the last 3 digits) so it really makes dating them difficult. In short, we're lucky the ledgers survived. In fact we have to thank Harry Minting, manager of Wheatstones in the '50s, who saved them from the dumpster. Speaking of Harry, the Mayfair concertina was his brainchild. It was designed to be an inexpensive alternative for beginners. As such, it's not a bad deal -- certainly better than the Stagis of the '80s with their clumsy bellows. I agree the finger rests are killers and the action is not the greatest, but they serve a purpose for beginning players. Harry wrote a small instruction book for the instrument, too.
  4. I believe a boy soprano's part in a score is also called the treble part. Maybe a treble EC is a treble to keep it from seeming too "girly"? jdms True enough, but how about the SOPRANO saxophone?? It's a manly instrument, that's fer sure!
  5. The "highly unusual instrument" was made for me. I had approached Geoff's dad, Harry, way back in 1980 about making a tenor instrument pitched an octave above (or another way of thinking of it was as a piccolo extended down to Middle C, if you will). I had a piccolo at the time, and also a great Crabb tenor, and wanted the ability to play the "low notes" on the piccolo. Harry thought this was "unnatural" and turned down my request. I also tried to convince Neville (Geoff's older brother) at the time and after Harry's death, but by that time they were so busy making normal instruments that it didn't seem like a likely possibility. And then Neville died suddenly and the shop closed -- a terribly sad time for concertina players everywhere. When I met Geoff again a few years ago, after his retirement, and he told me that he was again making instruments, I renewed the idea with him. At first he thought I wanted a tenor instrument that went up an extra octave or two, and protested that would be impossible to make. I finally got across the idea that I wanted a tenor instrument pitched an octave higher than a normal one -- i.e., like a piccolo. (This gosh-darned concertina terminology sure is confusing -- why do we call a "treble" a "treble" -- it's the soprano voice, right? And why do we distinguish between a "tenor" and a "tenor-treble," which really are the same thing with slightly different ranges . . .) Anyhow . . . Geoff kindly agreed to make the instrument and I am happy to report it's as good, if not better, than anything that ever came out of the Crabb workshop in its heydey. Someone with lots of money should film Geoff making an instrument or at least document his methods as he represents the last in a distinguished line of makers. I had suggested to the Horniman that they hire him on a part-time basis as a consultant/lecturer but I think they lack the money to do so. Any inheritors of large fortunes (or smaller ones, well-invested) might consider undertaking this task. Here's Geoff giving it a try at Bradfield:
  6. On a recent visit to Mrs. Crotty's festival in Kilrush, an anonymous photographer spotted these three scurges of the Concertina world, who dominate the Ebay bidding for such items as Charles Wheatstone's handerkerchief, grainy photos of Louis Lachenal's front parlor, and photos of Percy Honri accepting bribes from the International Concertina Association's secretary-general. These three men have cornered the market, shamelessly driving up prices so that honest concertina players (who truly deserve to own this material) can no longer affiord to do so. They must be stopped. So I call on the concertina.net community to keep a careful eye out for each one of them. They live and work among the innocent squeezers, dwelling on these pages, searching out the gullible and robbing them of their birthright. Although we cannot reveal their names, their Ebay handles are displayed for those who must know. WARNING: Viewing this photograph may cause anxiety among the innocent victims of these shameless Ebay bidders.
  7. Hello All: My article on the Fayre Four (www.concertina.com/carlin) inspired an email from the nephew of the group's leader, Peter Brown -- including a wonderful early photograph (he believes it to be the first taken of the group). You can view his memories on my blog site, http://richardsmusicandmore.blogspot.com/ I plan to add to the site more photos and concertina info -- also news about my new book on the history of Folkways Records (shameless plug -- sorry). I look foward to your comments--this means you, Stephen Chambers! Richard Carlin
  8. HOW did you find this, Stephen???? HOW did you recognize it?? It's clear to me that you are finding way too many cool things on Ebay, and should be required to donate every 10th item to a deserving collector (I can help you compile the list!) Regarding a possible Alf Edwards CD set: I am working with Smithsonian Folkways with the hope that we can produce a virtual LP of some time that will be available "on demand." I'll keep the list posted as I hope this develops.
  9. That's RICHARD CARLIN to you Jody and Allan. Sigh. I guess my "secret identity" as Richard Carlson is blown. I do teach if someone is interested they can email me at Richard.Carlin@prenhall.com.
  10. I'm sure Stephen Chambers will reply also, but anyhow Nickolds was an original Wheatstone employee in charge of the metal work -- he was replaced in 1848 by Louis Lachenal. Around 1860 he was in partnership with John Crabb, who had done woodwork for Wheatstone. The bone-buttoned, color-keyed instruments generally were the lower level mass-produced instruments (such as made by Lachenal and many other makers). Considering its age and basic design, I wouldn't think such an instrument would be playable without considerable repair so wouldn't want to invest much in it. Most of these instruments are collected by those interested in early concertina makers for the labels rather than for their playability.
  11. Thanks all for a great time at the Northeast Concertina Workshop and Hootenanny. I enjoyed very much coming out of semi-retirement to meet everyone and hear many fine players. On the issue of William Kimber, I would like to clarify that although I play nothing like him and am totally misguided in my understanding of his music I still think he was a great concertina player and will continue to try my best to honor his memory by playing not at all like him the many tunes that I enjoy. Thanks again to the great Button Box staff -- including the talented Rich Morse, handy Bob Snope, and organized Doug Creighton -- for their hard work making this happen. I will add that the Morse English concertina is a wonderful instrument and bargain -- very light, easy to play ( a great action!), and a steal at any price. I'm very glad that you are making these instruments available for the next generation of players who will not play at all like William Kimber but still honor his memory through pumping away. Next year, the pizza's on me! Best, Richard
  12. THe Mayfair Concertina was introduced by Wheatstone as an inexpensive beginners instrument in the early '50s. Harry Minting, then a manager at the firm (and a well known performer), takes credit for the instrument's design, and indeed he wrote a tutor (pictured with the instrument on ebay) for it. The instrument was an attempt to use less expensive Italian reeds, something like the Bastari concertinas first introduced in the US by Oliver Heatwole in the late '70s and still made today. Ends were made of metal or "mother of toilet seat" plastic. I own a metal-ended instrument with 30 buttons and found it to be more "playable" than the Bastari instruments and certainly decent enough for a beginner. Stephen Chambers could probably provide the full Mayfair story, including dates when they were made, etc. Richard Carlin
  13. Hubba hubba! Quite a beautiful appearing instrument with excellent provenance -- I should think it would command a good price (upper end of what Peter quoted above). This period of Wheatstone instruments is generally considered their "golden age" and as Stephen notes this was a top-of-the-line "presentation grade" instrument. If everything is in as good order as you describe, you have a lovely instrument (one that I would be loathe to sell . . . but if you're not playing it, deserves a good home).
  14. My experience is that 1950s-era Aeolas are often OK, but by the time you get to the mid-'60s, the instruments become heavier and larger, and the action very unsatisfactory. I'm not enough of an expert to attribute this to a specific change in manufacturing technique, although I imagine the aging of the workforce, the many moves that Wheatstone made in its later years, and the general lack of enthusiasm by owners Boosey & Hawkes couldn't have helped. Ironically, some of the "lower grade" models that I've played from this period are lighter and more responsive than the Aeolas.
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