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Stephen Chambers

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About Stephen Chambers

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    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

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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. The C.G.H monogram is the mark of Carl Georg Herold, in Klingenthal, Wes.
  2. It means they cannot charge VAT on any items. In my own case, which I've already mentioned, Mark Adey is not registered for VAT so there's no UK VAT on the bellows I'm awaiting from him, but I am expecting to have to pay Irish VAT + Duty that will add around 25% to their cost... 😒
  3. I'm awaiting delivery of a new bellows, ordered last year off Mark Adey - I'll let you know what the additional import charges are...
  4. That's very interesting (and I'd love to see photos of the entire instrument - I've an interest in 19th-century banjos), but though he may have sold it (in the mid-1880s to early-1890s) from one of his Oakley Street shop addresses , I doubt that Thomas Shakespeare had any hand in the making of it, just as I doubt that William Temlett actually made concertinas, though he presumably sold ones bearing his own brand (but I've neither seen nor heard of a Temlett concertina). Shakespeare had 3 known addresses in Oakley Street, numbers 116, 93, and 78, whilst I don't think there's actuall
  5. In terms of instruments that are still made/played today (except for toy ones), brass long plate reeds are only used in harmonicas/mouth organs, and these days there are numerous people working on their own harmonicas to improve/tune them. You'll find a bunch of videos on the likes of YouTube larten 27, though you may get puzzled if they talk about Just Intonation Tuning rather than (the more generally used) Equal Temperament - but Just Intonation is an old system of tuning that's much sweeter on an instrument that only plays in one, or two, keys, and it was in general use for Ger
  6. If it's in good, playing, condition then buy the May Fair - they're excellent for the price, and that's the going rate for one.
  7. That's the name of the firm that made the case lock, not the concertina.
  8. Wrist straps can be bought from Mark Adey at Concertina-spares, they're number 4 on this linked page, and the simplest way to attach them would be with two pairs of his Anglo Bottom Strap Fixings. But, I hope you realise, they're used in addition to the thumb straps - they don't replace them.
  9. A very productive dream Randy! Dorado really is astonishingly talented - guitarist, violinist, composer, and have you heard him sing? That cousin of his (Tchavolo) is no slouch either!
  10. The U.S. DIY Network show Handmade Music produced a five-part series on building your own Cajun accordion a few years ago, in which Marc Savoy demonstrated how it's done. It doesn't seem to be available to viewers here (in Europe) any longer, but it does seem to be available 'Stateside.
  11. That certainly appears to be the case - both the button layout and the maker's stamp say that what appears to be the left-hand side, is actually the right-hand one....
  12. No, though it seems Wheatstone's did make a handful of Chemnitzers (which they mis-described as "Bandonions") for export to the U.S. - see the Wheatstone Bandonion Found thread). After WW2 there was very little interest in new concertinas (and especially with Purchase Tax at 100% on musical instruments!) at home, so most of Wheatstone's production went for export - Anglos to South Africa, and Englishes to Boris Matusewitch in New York.
  13. It was mainly in New York and centred on Boris Matusewitch. Take a look at this post from Randy Stein (one of Boris' pupils) for a start: And here's Eric Matusewitch's article about his family: The Matusewitch Family: Concertina and Accordion Virtuosi-- Russia, Europe and the United States .
  14. Well that one, Crow Valley Music, is Niall Vallely and Karan Casey's own website, whilst "the artist John B Vallely" it refers to is Niall's father, Brian Vallely, who (with his wife Eithne) founded the Armagh Pipers Club...
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