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Stephen Chambers

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About 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. Stephen Chambers

    English 40 Button Crabb

    Don't forget, your posts have all been in the middle of the night in the UK Mavis, and most people only log-in occasionally. Have patience.
  2. Stephen Chambers

    Identify The Concertina In The Video

    It may be one of José Claro's small ones, or Ralf Schlimm (7Mount Concertinas) makes them too, both for very reasonable prices. But it's impossible to tell from the video.
  3. Stephen Chambers

    Caring For Ebony Ends

    Are the ends jet-black on it George, or more of a dark brown? I have a reason for asking, and may be able to tell you something very interesting about it if it's the latter (which was mine 40 years ago and appears to have been sold by the Button Box recently)... Either way, laminated wood is much stronger than solid, as Geoff has said, but I would be worried that the wood (after all these years) might start to crack, and the old hide glue fail, so that it might delaminate under excessively dry conditions. A controlled environment/humidifier might be no harm, and keeping it in its case when it's not being played.
  4. Stephen Chambers

    A Baffling Anglo - Confused Of Cheshire

    No, a Lachenal with the serial number 1958 would have been very early, and not have had the Lachenal reed trade mark on the rest because trede marks were not introduced until 1875 (and Lachenal's only applied for their reed one in 1878). Also the rests would have been long on an early one, like these, becoming shorter on later models. But I abandoned that hypothesis as soon as I learned that the serial number was rubber-stamped...
  5. Stephen Chambers

    A Baffling Anglo - Confused Of Cheshire

    There are various servers you can use to host your photos online Neil. I've used photobucket.com for years, though they've become frustratingly much more difficult to deal with recently and I'm afraid I would no longer recommend them to anybody.
  6. Stephen Chambers

    A Baffling Anglo - Confused Of Cheshire

    No, they didn't, but I couldn't see that - it's not apparent to me in the small format of your montage of photos. That sounds more like "Tidder" or a German maker then. Do all the serial numbers match?
  7. Stephen Chambers

    Grock, Clown Music With Concertina

    And this clip turned up on my facebook feed tonight, of street musicians Carl Scott and Eddie Thomas playing ukulele, kazoo, washboard, and a coffee pot in Richmond, Virginia in 1928.
  8. Stephen Chambers

    A Baffling Anglo - Confused Of Cheshire

    Well it's marked L 1958 in the left side, so presumably R 1958 in the right, which would certainly suggest it was made in England. In fact, apart from the fretwork it looks very much like a Lachenal in the photos (though they could be clearer) - could it be a Louis Lachenal that somebody made new ends for?
  9. Stephen Chambers

    The Nickolds Brothers

    They are generally credited with being pioneers of Anglo concertina building, in response to a German concertina "boom" in the 1850s, following the Great Exhibition. Indeed they claimed to be "INVENTORS OF THE ANGLO-GERMAN" on the business card of "NICKOLDS, CRABB & CO." (a short-lived partnership at the beginning of the 1860s). They made HEAPS of them, but rarely with their own name on them (they made a lot "for the trade"), but their instruments had solid wood ends with open fretwork, which are very inclined to crack and break up, and brass reeds, so plenty of them have not survived - and any survivors are in the region of a century-and-a-half (or more) old now.
  10. Stephen Chambers

    Cheap Concertina On Ebay

    One thing that's hard to gauge in the photo, bacause of wide button spacing, is that these (at 7 1/4" across the flats) are larger instruments than "normal" 6 1/4" concertinas.
  11. Stephen Chambers

    Wheatstone Ledger Designations

    Yes, magnesium alloys are the strongest and lightest of alloys, and were starting to be regarded as valuable industrial structural materials in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, so I guess Wheatstone's were trying them out on some of their Aeola duets. They,would then have been based on Mg-Al-Zn (magnesium-aliminium-zinc) or Mg-Mn (magnesium-manganese) systems.
  12. Stephen Chambers

    Cormac Begley's Limited Edition Concertina Album

    Yes, and being still in high pitch when Cormac got it, and a Jeffries with a radial reedpan, I suggested it was a prime candidate for conversion to a sweet but strong Eb - which is what has been done with it. But it confirmed something that I've long suspected about these too, in that the levers look like Wheatstone ones in them, and the fretwork has always struck me as looking like a Wheatstone version of the Jeffries design - and this one has C. WHEATSTONE & CO stamps, that are half scratched-out, under the fretwork, inside... So the woodwork, fretwork, actions and batch number are Wheatstone, with William Jeffries reeds and buttons, and "Mrs. Jeffries" bellows!
  13. Stephen Chambers

    Cormac Begley's Limited Edition Concertina Album

    And a lovely album it is too!
  14. The earliest German concertinas were rectangular in shape and made in the industrial city of Chemnitz (sometimes referred to as "the Manchester of Saxony"), where the instrument was invented, and those were often signed internally, in pencil, by the maker. But labour was expensive in Chemnitz and in the 1850s production started to move to more rural regions, especially around Klingenthal, and those instruments (like this one) rarely show any indication of who made them - though there could have been a label on the cardboard box that they would have come in originally...
  15. It's a pretty-enough German concertina, made in Germany (probably Saxony) in the 1860s/'70s.