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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. Lachenal's were probably sending them to South Africa until they closed down in 1933 (and were taken over by Wheatstone's), thereafter there was only Crabb's and Wheatstone's (on a much bigger scale) to supply the market. The extended bellows were replacements that were made later in South Africa, the concertinas would have left their makers, in England, with only 5-, or 6-fold, bellows.
  2. A rare treat, on Facebook, the late Andrew Blakeney-Edwards playing Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" on his four-row, 51-key, Jeffries Anglo. https://www.facebook.com/222125851133214/videos/166924951820773
  3. I wonder if the lead digit might be a poorly stamped 2 that has been misread as a 5? Though (according to Dowright's calculations) 27473 would suggest a date of c.1887
  4. Hmmm, so now we seem to have two anomalous Maccann duet serial numbers that look like they might belong to the English system number sequence: 57473 (circa 1919) on a supposedly 1883 "Prototype" instrument and 43438 (circa 1905) on an instrument in the Wayne Collection at the Horniman Museum... However, the catalogue description of the latter contains a further anomaly in that it states that the instrument has a "Circular reed pan label: 'Lachenal & Co, 8 Lit James St, Grays Inn Road, WC, London'. Serial number: 43438." - and such re
  5. No, Paddy couldn't play it the "right way up" - he only borrowed (fellow button accordion player) Raymond Roland's one to try out, and it made more sense to him "upside-down". He always played it that way, and wasn't the sort to "show off".
  6. That's nothing! 😉 My old friend Paddy Hayes borrowed Raymond Roland's Wheatstone Anglo but (being a button box player) found it handier to play it upside down, so he could use his right hand on the low notes. He went in for a competition, and won it, finishing up qualifying for the All-Ireland Fleadh - and won that too!!! Here he is on a Jeffries, playing with "The Godfather" Brian Rooney on fiddle:
  7. Intriguing indeed! The Provisional Specification for Maccann's Patent, dated 11th March, 1884, states "They are made in either shape hexagonal or square with 39 to 58 keys." Whilst the Patent drawing shows a hexagonal instrument with the same button layout as this one, including the two offset buttons (one each side) which are given no note values - so quite likely they were for a whistle and squeaker on both. But the claimed serial number makes no sense for 1883 - perhaps there has been a misreading?
  8. Frankly, we've no way of knowing what Bastari were doing at any given time, but they seem to have frequently altered their designs, whether to try and make "improvements" or just to make their instruments less costly to manufacture. But you've reminded me of another (earlier?) "Wizard by Bastari" that I got going again last year for a friend. It's a 20-key one this time, and I don't know where it was sold originally (the only "provenance" is that it was found at a rubbish dump in County Clare!), and the lever mechanism is a more-complicated and (probably) e
  9. Whoops, that'll teach me to post in a hurry (we were just about to go out at the time), without looking hard enough at my source (which suggested it was for Ab/Eb, and I took it at face value) - though I never saw such a thing as a Jones Salvation Army 26-key in anything but Ab/Eb. The Salvation Army tutor book that I'm familiar with is H. H. Booth's 1888 Instructions for the Salvation Army Concertina (which I discovered on a research trip to the Bodleian Library, Oxford) that is basiclly a chord book for a 26-key Jones in Ab/Eb. But I guess the 1905 C/G diagram may have come as as
  10. This is the official Salvation Army 26-key layout, from their 1905 tutor book, so drop everything down by a semitone for G/D:
  11. I went through a lot of the same thought processes myself 35 years ago, when I started tuning to Meantone after buying a copy of Charles A. Padgham's (then newly published) book The Well-Tempered Organ. But my conclusion (very much confirmed by examination of Jeffries' Anglos in unaltered original tuning) was that they were transposing instruments, and that (for example) if you wanted to play in flat keys you should get a Bb/F or Ab/Eb instrument that was intended for the job, and not expect those instruments to be perfectly in tune with (say) a "concert pitch" (Irish useage) C/G o
  12. I'm confused, and maybe others are too - what "corner fabric parts" do you mean? The accordion bellows tape that runs all around the bellows? Or the white bellows gussets, that should be made of leather, but have sometimes been made out of impregnated cloth? A picture could be worth a thousand words... The soundboard/action board, with the reeds on the back of it, should be attached to the ends of the instrument, not to the bellows frame, and it should lift off easily. The simplest answer, if you have easy access to one, might be to buy another Scholer of the
  13. Oh well, it was worth checking if there was a smudged name stamp there - it was unlikely, but by no means impossible. Before German concertina production shifted from the (expensive) industrial city of Chemnitz, where it was invented, to the (inexpensive) Vogtland region (especially Klingenthal), the only maker's marks you'll find were their pencilled signatures (sometimes) inside the ends. However, the pencil markings inside your great-grandmother's concertina are only the batch number 57 and D for Descant, and it'll be B for Bass in the other end.
  14. Am I seeing things, or does it have a name stamped underneath the end? It's very difficult to make out, but might it read F. A. Rauner? (They were the biggest factory at Klingenthal.)
  15. The reedpan is evidently from a typical 2-row French accordion, something similar to the one in this YouTube video:
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