Jump to content

Alex West

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Alex West

  1. Especially as the original instrument of 30th November 1922 is listed as having rosewood polished ends! Alex West
  2. Dave I was trying very hard to avoid a direct comment about the concertina which Ben's selling. From the videos and from his description, it looks to be quite similar to the one I had which came from South Africa, was a couple of years earlier and was also brought up to excellent working condition by a top class maker (but not, I suspect Ben's). As I said, I liked mine and it had a typical Wheatstone sweet tone through all of the notes and a very even timbre, also typical of the Wheatstone radial reed pattern with none of the variability of an old Jeffries or Crabb. Some people like that even-ness and sweetness, some don't and it does depend on what style of music you prefer. You make a good point that you wouldn't sell - except for an instrument which costs a lot more. That was exactly my situation - the model 7A simply wasn't the instrument of my dreams so I paid more to get one which was. If the instrument of your dreams is a top Wheatstone from the 1920s or a top Jeffries from somewhat earlier or one from the top modern makers, then I agree, you'll have to pay more. I don't think it's fair to compare an EC Aeola of the 1910 - 1930 period with a 1950's Anglo Aeola. These are very different specification instruments with very different manufacture, different sounds and in most cases different purposes. It's like comparing a 1950s Jaguar with the 1990s Ford owned Jaguar. The badge may be the same but the car's a different article - and most likely used for a different purpose! I don't know how variable Wheatstone's quality was in the 1950s but I'll bet that the model 7As are more consistent than the C Jeffries seem to be (for one thing, they're younger and unlikely to have had as much abuse over the years). I sold mine a couple of years ago in the UK for a good deal more than Ben is asking; I'm sure that if Ben's plays as well as mine, then his price looks attractive. However, if you're buying in the UK, then the addition of postage and import VAT brings it much closer to the price I got for mine. Alex West
  3. Chris The Horniman Ledgers only refer to instruments by model number so they're no help. The catalogues and pricelists available at www.concertina.com are a little more useful in the descriptions but can't be used to interpret the motives. Unfortunately, the only ones there are from 1910 and 1947 onwards. In 1910, the Anglos are all referred to as Linotas, with the top model being a Type C. By 1920 (or thereabouts, from a pricelist which I've not seen myself), the top quality 40 key is a model number 62. There were some octagonal instruments around in the 1920s but these were definitely specials (for example the well known AG duet, number 30998). By 1947 and through to the end, the model numbers were 1A - 6A with in 1956, a catalogue with illustrations offering the number 7A Professional model, octagonal "AEOLA" model. As I've said above, the 1950s anglos have a number of features different to a 1920s instrument so they are clearly to different specifications of materials and workmanship (I'm not so familiar with English and Duet models). I have heard it said that Wheatstone didn't regard anglos as serious instruments before 1900, and even after they started making them (date unknown to me) to cash in on the obviously high value Crabb/Jeffries sales, they didn't want to pollute the concert EC Aeola brand with the connotations of the busking anglo - however costly - hence the separate Linota brand. I've also heard it said that Wheatstone never used the best EC Aeola reeds and craftsmen on a type 62 anglo but I have no direct evidence for this or ability to compare like for like. By the 1950s, perhaps marketing had taken over from pride so the Aeola brand could be used for any octagonal top of the range instrument? Cynical, mercenary or just a practical reaction to a - at that time - dwindling market? Alex West
  4. Sidesquueze As with many things in life, the concepts of "the anglo of my dreams' and "the golden age" are quite subjective and I can only speak of my own experiences of a 1950's Wheatstone Aeola similar to Ben's, a 1926 Linota and a 1921 Linota, various Jeffries and a few Lachenals. Quality isn't really subjective (Quality simply means conformance to specification in my industry!), but it does depend what you're comparing it to. The action configuration, production methods and materials are obviously different and all of these contribute to a very different feel and sound between the instruments. The action of a '50's box isn't as smooth and noiseless as a riveted action, but it's at least as good as a Lachenal, probably better since it will be bushed. The 1950's instruments do feel physically lighter, but I wouldn't say they're any less robust. The 1950's instruments are undoubtedly less expensive; they were designed as more of a production line item and less of a hand craft (although there was a fair amount of production engineering in a 1920's box and a fair amount of handcraft in a 1950's box). I think it's been said that in the changes in ownership between the '20's and the '50's, the company was less bothered about quality and more bothered about cost of construction. I've had this on hearsay; I can't report it as fact but there may be documents on the site which give more definitive commentary from people who were there at the time. The sound is also different becuse of the construction method, materials and configuration. The 1950's box is likely to have aluminium shoed reeds rather than brass; this contributes to the lightness and may also contribute to some of the tone and timbre difference. I quite liked the 1950's box I had. I liked it for its lightness, its acceptable tone, its acceptable action and the fact that I could take it anywhere without worrying about it being a priceless antique. It didn't have any significant wear issues so maintenance was never a worry (but the older boxes had been well restored so that wasn't really a big issue for me). But I didn't keep it (and I haven't kept the 1926 Linota either). Mine didn't have the character of an older instrument and certainly didn't have the punch of a Jeffries. My biggest issue was that it wasn't in G/D so wasn't getting used. I hope I've been helpful, but equally, I hope I haven't answered your questions; unless you try it and your comparator (price, musicality, weight etc) instruments, you won't know whether its the right one for you and I've no idea what you dream about. Without referring to Ben's sale and his aspirations of value specifically, I'd say they're generally good for the price and often under-valued. Alex West
  5. For that matter, how many would recognize that amboyna wasn't just a variety of mother-of-toilet-seat? (By the way, do they still make toilet seats with "that" finish?) Hmmm, a toilet seat in amboyna veneer with gold fittings. Sure makes a certain part of my anatomy smile:-} Alex West
  6. Many thanks Dave - either myself or Ian may be in touch. The problem is more to do with woodwork than leather so I don't think the concertina spares kit will do the job until the bellows frame itself is repaired. I've shown Ian the concertina spares and your own website; I don't think Ian is easily frustrated but we'll see how he gets on in the first stage. Alex West
  7. One of the reasons Ian came to see me was that I've done exactly that and made a set of bellows using Bob's method (adapted to suit my materials and workshop). I'll post some pictures in the proper forum when they're finished Alex West
  8. Although this story features Instrument construction and repair, it's of more general interest so I thought it fitted well here. I had a visit from one of my sailing chums today. I got him hooked on the concertina about 4 years ago and he's made excellent progress on a 30 key Lachenal which he got from the Button Box. He came round at the weekend as he had some problems with his bellows which he wanted me to look at. I sent him back with card, leather, linen tape and instructions and he set about them, unglueing the old leather ready to patch in new card and re-glue using rabbit skin glue. All was going well until the dog they were looking after for friends went AWOL and found the partially disassembled bellows in Ian's study and reckoned they tasted nicer than pigs ears and Pedigree Chum. Ian is now researching options for new bellows and pet cremation. Everyone I've told this tale to has laughed, but Ian is distraught. Perhaps I shouldn't have told him that bellows were a consumable item (when the dog was obviously listening). There was more damage to one of the wooden bellows frames than the bellows themselves and fortunately, the reed pans were separate and the dog hadn't swallowed any of the metal components. Before giving up and getting a new set of bellows, Ian's going to try to replace the chewed and soggy bits with new wood (which I think he'll do OK with; he's a very competent and neat woodworker). Alex West
  9. I do mine on PowerPoint. I'm sure there are easier ways to do it but it's what I've become used to and it allows me to group particular row configurations togerther and also to build up a file per instrument documenting all in one place the keyboard and photos of before, after and jobs yet to do Attached is an example (don't look too closely at the details - I haven't updated this particular file with the correct note values yet!) Alex West
  10. The lettering says H Boyd. If you search for Boyd on the site, you'll find a number of threads explaining what these concertinas are and why they're special Alex West
  11. I'm told by my son (who runs a tea business in China) that tea roots are a traditional Chinese method for soaking up smells. (http://www.minrivertea.com/blog/tea-roots-soak-up-bad-smells/) As it happens, I have a large stock of out-of-date tea so if you (or any other contributor) wants to try using tea to soak up the smell, it's yours for the price of postage (£2.50 per 100g bag for the UK). I'm sure the leaves are just as good as roots for this purpose and it's got to be better, cheaper and greener than using chemical odour neutralisers! Alex West
  12. I've a D/A Crabb which probably dates from the late 1800's. It has C Jeffries stamps on it, but these were added after someone tried to obliterate all of the J Crabb markings (but forgot one). Given the high pitch (one hole tone higher than a conventional C/G) it's surprisingly mellow and not as squeaky as you might have thought. I got it to play in Scottish sessions which tend to tunes in D and A, but have found that it's more productive to try and learn to play my G/D box more chromatically. I've not come across another Alex West
  13. Dave There's at least one and not a baritone. In the 1970's, Colin Dipper made a G/D for Tony Engle (MD of Topic records and performer in Oak and Webbs Wonders) where the G row was the same pitch as that of a standard C/G and the D row was the same pitch as a standard G/D. Tony had played Jeffries and Crabb instruments previously so knew what he was doing around an anglo. The accidentals on it are in some odd places and it requires a different playing approach if you're used to a more conventional layout. However, like all Dippers, it's a delightful instrument. Alex West
  14. Andy Your Bb/F doesn't conform to a "standard" Crabb/Jeffries 38 (or 39) key layout, but then most of such instruments I've come across have deviated in one or two places, either as originally built or as a result of previous owners modifying them to suit their playing requirements. Some of the accidentals on yours make sense, for example to give note options in both push and draw, but others don't make much sense; for example on the left side, I can't see a reason why anyone would need 3 Bb3 notes all on the push and 2 Ab4 on the push. The thumb button doesn't conform to either of the "standards". It neither functions as a drone, nor does it give the useful Bb3 on the draw and the Eb on the push. The Eb is available elsewhere, but I can't see the need for the G3. However, the specifier must have liked his "G"s to have the G2 down at the bottom. On the right side, the story is similar - why have 3 B5 notes all on the push? Why have 2 E5s on the draw, one of them in an awkward place? Why have 2 A4s both on the draw, both playable by the same finger? Some of the peculiarities may be explained by the original tuning being a meantone (which you've covered in another post) where 2 ostensibly similar notes were actually 50 cents or more apart to avoid the wolf notes in particular keys? I'd imagine that it's possible to swap some of the notes around to get more of a standard layout and make more sense of the duplicates but I'd suggest you leave that to the buyer. One other point; you've highlighted in yellow some notes which were added to the standard 38 key layout; look carefully at the chart I sent you in a PM - you'll see that a couple of these yellow notes are in the correct position for a 38 key. Best of luck Alex West
  15. Susi/Sinead I'll let others comment on the suitablity of a G/D anglo for Irish music, except to say that most players or Irish music tend to play a C/G even for tunes in G, D and A by cross-rowing using a method such as Noel Hill's, playing chords only occasionally. G/D concertinas tend to be more popular for English style tunes in G and D where heavy use of chords is the norm which may only be available by playing along the rows. I'm happy playing Irish tunes on a G/D, but I'm aware that I can't play with a similar technique and in a similar style to well known Irish musicians who play a C/G. That's inhibiting to me and I'm probably too fixed in my ways to change, but you may find that you get more support and learning opportunities if you have a "standard" box. (I'm ignoring here the Irish players who love playing a Bb/F or even an Ab/Eb) A is a key which tends not to be used in English sessions but it's very common in Scottish sessions. I found it a pain at first, mainly because the tunes always seem to be on the "pull" so I ran out of air but I've gotten used to it. It's certainly possible to play in C on a G/D box. You need to be comfortable finding the Fnatural on the left hand. It's like playing in F on a C/G box (and I seem to remember John Kirkpatrick saying he found F a really nice and very playable key on a C/G). The G/D is normally a fourth lower than a C/G so you shouldn't find it squeaky at all. There are G/D boxes where the G row is the same as on a C/G and the D is lower, but these are unusual. I hope this helps! Alex West
  16. Hammer price was £1,300 so cost including buyers premium and VAT was £1,581. I thought this was a Shakespeare too - the bird motif is very similar to other fretwork I've seen of known Shakesepeares, (but interestingly nothing like the fretwork of 30 and 38key metal ended Shakespeares which have appeared recently both here and on ebay). The papers and bellows gilding looked very Crabb-like I suspect the restored price/cost/value will be close to the top end for a Shakespeare, depending on the key but it looks a very pretty instrument. Anyone here win it? What key is it? Alex West
  17. Interesting piece of kit - but why are there 4 slots? They all look to be the same size Alex West
  18. There's one significant difference between this concertina and my Bb/F anglo "Shakespeare". The action levers on mine are round brass (similar to but with a totally different to a Jeffries) but those on the duet here seem to be flat metal like a Wheatstone action - can't tell whether they're brass or steel though. Alex West
  19. The ebay anglo is very similar (almost identical) to my Bb/F anglo which has been attributed to Shakespeare (albeit with no identifying marks) and the flat top reed screws are identical to my anglo. I recall that Craig's duet was attributed to Shakespeare when it was on ebay back in 2006 but it's awfully difficult to be sure without the makers stamp! Alex West
  20. David I've used this for some time and I agree, it's a great product for veneer repairs. It's an aliphatic resin I believe, similar to Titebond, but flows much more easily. When I was re-veneering ebony onto a Jeffries, I did a few trials and Chair Doctor also gave the best bond. The only thing to be careful of is that the syringes are so small they gum up very easily. so you have to be careful to blow air through after glueing. I also used the inside of a wire tie as a "reamer" to clear the bore of the syringe Alex West
  21. If you lived in the UK it's pretty easy to find the HMRC rules for importing antiques by googling "HMRC, Antiques". Basically, if your item is over 100 years old, it qualifies as an antique and is free of import duty and qualifies for the reduced level of VAT at 5%. If your item is 99 years old, then you'll have to pay import duty and the full VAT value. I'd guess there's a similar regime in the US but there'll be different rates and terms for the customs and VAT duties. As far as I know, there's no CITES restriction on ebony (but I'm not an expert on this). There are restrictions on a lot of exotic timbers, some of which are now getting very difficult to get hold of partly because of the increased cost for certification of sustainable hardwood foresting but there shouldn't be any problem when it's part of an old manufactured artefact such as a concertina. You may find that "your" Wheatstone is ebonised pearwood rather than ebony (and the "ivory" buttons are usually bone rather than ivory) but you might need an expert declaration to confirm that to the satisfaction of the authorities. Alex West
  22. My son who runs a tea business in China tells me that tea leaves, roots, shoots etc are a traditional remedy for bad odours. When his new apartment was built, he was recommended to put piles of tea in each room to absorb the damp and neutralise the "new plaster" smell before painting, papering and generally furnishing. I have to say, I haven't tried it for concertinas (none of mine is quite that bad), but I do know of a good source if you want to try it! (short of either raiding the supermarket for cheap tea or shredding your favourite camellia). Alex West
  23. Ross Fair comment; I'm obviously getting out of touch with what professional repair costs are these days! Alex West
  24. According to the bidding history, someone bid £3,000 in error (entered wrong amount) and his withdrawal was accepted. Again, without seeing the instrument up-close it's hard to tell, but $3,000 seems a bit high as a repair estimate. The bellows certainly look shot, but that's less than £500; the rest of the instrument doesn't look so bad in the photos apart from dirt so add some nominal fixing, normal pad, valve, spring and bushing replacement and tuning and you're probably not over £1,000 ($1,620). If it is a Shakespeare, they're still a nice sounding instrument and above a Lachenal in build quality and action speed (tone and volume are more subjective so I'll not comment). Ross - I presume you meant that it does look like the Bb/F Shakespeare which Chris Algar had on ebay. I'll declare a small interest - i have a similar looking Bb/F instrument,attributed to Shakespeare, which Ive been trying to sell! As per today's news, perhaps like the plays, they were built by a team of makers? Alex West
  • Create New...