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Stephen Chambers

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    STEPHEN CHAMBERS had the misfortune to be stricken with the highly contagious concertina bug around the time he left school in 1970. He believes he caught it as a result of attending folk clubs in Derby and his native Burton-on-Trent, though he cannot rule out the malevolent influence of the "Concertina Consciousness" movement that was active at the time, not forgetting his becoming a member of the International Concertina Association at an early stage (as the result of an accidental meeting with ICA Secretary Jim Harvey on London's Battersea Bridge). In the early stages of the illness he rapidly progressed from simply listening to concertinas being played to seeking to have one of his own; an ambition he rapidly achieved with the purchase of an 1890s Wheatstone for £25 through an advert in the local newspaper, and his life has never been the same since. The progression of the bug to fully blown Concertina Acquisition Disorder, coupled with an interest in history and training as a librarian, has caused him to carry out research on the instruments murky past and to publish articles about it, but really he is only trying to mask the symptoms of his condition.

    He is the author of "Louis Lachenal : Engineer and Concertina Manufacturer" Part 1, "An Annotated Catalogue of Historic European Free-Reed Instruments ... " (based on the instruments exhibited at the Symposium "Harmonium und Handharmonika", at Stiftung Kloster Michaelstein, in November 1999) and "Some Notes on Lachenal Concertina Production and Serial Numbers", which stands (in the interim) for "Louis Lachenal" Part 2.

    All the above may now be viewed online, courtesy of Robert Gaskins, by clicking on the Home Page url below.

    His latest paper "Joseph Astley, Oldham Concertina Band
    and the MHJ Shield" was published in PICA (Papers of the International Concertina Association) Volume 4, 2007: http://www.concertina.org/archive/pica/pica_2007_4/pica4_2007_p31_44.pdf

    Stephen is the present custodian of the first Wheatstone concertina (his avatar), which was formerly the pride of Wheatstone's own collection. It was shown, & described as such, in the 1961 Pathe Newsreel "Concertina Factory", or "Concert in a Factory"(which can be viewed online at: http://www.britishpathe.com/product_display.php?searchword=concertina+factory).

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  1. In fact you could buy a 26-key, mahogany-ended, Lachenal, with steel reeds (not the brass-reeded version) for LESS than the price of a new 30-key Swan. The 26-key ones have more than enough buttons for most players, and sell for a lot less than the price of a 30-key. Here's an example for sale by Barleycorn Concertinas: https://concertina.co.uk/stock-selection/anglo-concertinas/lachenal-26-key-anglo-in-c-g-with-steel-reeds/
  2. Yes, if you tell us if it is English or Anglo system? (There are different numbering sequences for each.)
  3. The Edeophone was Lachenal's top-of-the-range model. The ends are ebonised pearwood and it was made about 1912.
  4. They look raised to me, but the raise is less-pronounced on early examples like that one (#24204), or my 1910 No. 6 "Special" (#25100).
  5. Like I often say "a picture tells a thousand words" - and answers a lot of questions! And, now that you've provided a picture of one the same as yours, I can confirm that 1936 is indeed "about right". These were made by Harry Crabb after the closure of Lachenal's, and when (to quote from my paper Louis Lachenal: “Engineer and Concertina Manufacturer”) "... according to [Neil] Wayne, "on the closure of Lachenals, their last manager, Mr. Sanders, work[ed] for Crabb," while Tommy Williams recalled that the other partner, Ballinger, "turned over all the Salvation Army orders to Harry Crabb, whose father was dead then, rather than let Wheatstone's have it." So basically, these were initially made by Harry Crabb to fulfil Lachenal orders after the firm closed down, at the behest of Ballinger and with the assistance of Sanders, but without the benefit of Lachenal's machinery and tooling (which Wheatstone's had bought at auction) - so that (for example) the fretwork was cut by hand with a fretsaw, rather than by a pattern-following rotary spindle cutter, and hence the more "pointy" design you mention.
  6. Greg, knowing about #33301, I did wonder if you might have come across a New Model too, but you're probably "the exception that proves the rule"... It seems there were four of them that Wheatstone's delivered to Cincinatti, so there's only #33305 to find now! Whilst the "hook action" goes to confirm that they were, indeed, originally made by Lachenal's.
  7. New Model anglos are extremely rare (I've only ever had one of them in more than 50 years), whilst Edeophone ones are as rare as hen's teeth (I've never seen one)! I doubt if there's anybody who has seen examples of both, let alone had the good fortune to play examples of them. But, normally speaking (in terms of English concertinas) the ebony-finished New Models are of the same sort of quality as Edeophones.
  8. I wouldn't altogether agree with that conclusion though Ken. It may be true for the large 1938 duet #35074 that is the main subject of that 2001 paper (A Wheatstone Twelve-Sided ‘Edeophone’ Concertina with Pre-MacCann Chromatic Duet Fingering) which assumed that Lachenal's was taken over by Wheatstone's in 1935, but in my 2004 paper (Some Notes on Lachenal Concertina Production and Serial Numbers) I pointed out compelling evidence (from the Wheatstone Ledgers) that Wheatstone's were already re-badging (and/or finishing off?) Lachenal instruments, and using their innovative plastic button material (Erinoid) too, as early as September 1933 - so at least some of the "Wheatstone Edeophones" (and especially the 1934 Edeophone anglos in question) could have started off as being unfinished instruments from the Lachenal factory. Wheatstone's certainly did do that because I've seen, and even owned, some of them - including a Lachenal amboyna-wood piccolo anglo, with Wheatstone reeds and badges, that my late friend Paul Davies found at the Chor Bazaar in Mumbai, India.
  9. In more than 50 years of experience with concertinas I've never come across, nor heard of, a Crabb instrument with any external paper label.
  10. Going on previous dates, 133330 would probably date from late in 1893 or early in 1894. A photograph would help in answering your question about the value because there were several different models of 20-key, with brass reeds or steel reeds, and mahogany or rosewood ends, but prices are relatively low for them all because everybody wants the 30-key ones.
  11. The note layouts were on older versions of the Suttner website, but not on the latest incarnation it seems. So here's a link to the Suttner Jeffries-model 38/39-key layout on the Wayback Machine for you:
  12. #12582 would have been made about 1866-67. "Ordinary Metal Vibrators" would have been brass, "Silver Vibrators" would have been "German silver" = nickel silver, whilst all steel reeds are tempered...
  13. It's a couple of years before Dowright's estimated date for 92189, but there's nothing absolute about that and I'd take it seriously. In fact it may be the only example we know of that we have a clear date of manufacture for, because otherwise we only have dates of sale for a relatively small number of instruments - which could have been in stock for a while between manufacture and being sold.
  14. I never bothered to tune my 1928 tortoiseshell aeola up by 1Hz Alex, though it's probably better to be sharp by 1Hz than flat...
  15. Actually, it's entirely possible for a 1927 instrument to have been tuned to A-439 New Philharmonic Pitch when it was made. http://www.concertina.com/pricelists/wheatstone-english/Wh-Pricelist-Eng-c1925.pdf
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