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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. There seems to be some confusion in the ledger entries for serial numbers 34518 and 9, involving a second-hand (rebuilt/reconditioned?) 67-key in 1943, and perhaps the entries for those numbers somehow didn't get filled-in originally in April 1937 - when your instrument would appear to have been made. The quality will still be good, but not quite as good as that of instruments made earlier in the 1930s, because these later instruments had started to include plywood (instead of solid maple), and "hook" lever-actions (rather than riveted). Seeing that it's in Sweden, and
  2. They're not doing themselves any favours by not responding to questions - that will inevitably make people suspicious.
  3. There's a photo here of the Doncaster Citadel Salvation Army Concertina Band (formed 1917) with twelve players, and two larger instruments on the right, taken on 23rd April 1967: https://www.concertina.info/tina.faq/images/SalvDoncaster_1967.jpg
  4. Apart from everything that Geoff Wooff has already mentioned, and to compare like with like, I always find that there's more of a "honk" off the reeds in a 20-key Lachenal than there is off a 30-key one of the same model. I'd attribute the difference to the chambering of the reedpans, which is parallel in a 20-key Lachenal (as is also the case with a Jones 20-key, or a Jeffries/Crabb), but radial (and sweeter) in a Lachenal 30-key.
  5. You're right, there is another miniature to the left of the Aeola on the table, as well as the one immediately below it, sitting on top of another accordion.
  6. I only have an old Polaroid of my own one of these, here with me in West Cork, but you'll see that the original thumb-straps on it are perfectly normal, as are the leather-covered finger rests. The instrument itself has interesting (and very topical at the moment) history to it, having been used to accompany psalms and hymns in Stoke Mandeville Old Church, which was closed in 1866 because it was considered unsafe. The site of the church, and its graveyard, are presently undergoing a major archaeological investigation because they are about to be swept away b
  7. I was under lockdown a long way from home when I commented on this previously, but I've been back there recently and took a photograph of a French accordion/flutina reedpan to show what I mean. Of course the white leather valves (that are still on this one) would have detached and floated away a very long time ago: Coincidentally, this mid-19th century image of three straw-hatted men (possibly sailors?) turned up today, with the one on the left holding an accordion of the type I'm talking about:
  8. It appears to be the same one Daniel, and to have all the same faults.
  9. He's in Somerset in time for the 1939 Register Wes (taken on 29 September 1939), which provides a snapshot of his life at the outbreak of WW2. His address is given as Merry Garden, Langport, occupation Army Pensioner Disable[d], along with his wife Florence V. Travers, occupation House & Shop Duties.
  10. You're fortunate that your one is numbered so close to that receipt, which is one of relatively few reference points in the ongoing compilation of the database, Andrew. Only we've no way of knowing when any of them was actually completed, and no doubt it wasn't always in consecutive serial number order (whilst the extant Wheatstone ledgers sometimes reveal instruments that weren't finally completed until years/decades later than you might expect!), but we only have occasional dates of sale/purchase to go on.
  11. That's what it appears to be, it seems to have left the factory with normal wooden rails and hand straps fitted - you can see the plugged holes where they used to be attached. A horrible way to treat a rare and lovely New Model Lachenal!
  12. It's a late incarnation of the "wavy-sided" German concertinas that were made in the late-19th/early 20th centuries. I've seen 1930-ish German mandolins with similarly inlaid scratchplates on them.
  13. Or does it say R32475 in the other end Triplem? (The R and the L signify Right and Left.)
  14. Piano-fingered concertinas seem to have been a German invention Jim, patented in England on 9th July 1862 by C. F. W. Rust (for F. Glier). After that patent expired they were manufactured in England by George Jones, and later Lachenal & Co. Versions with a diatonic left-hand side ddn't come along until much later again. These catalogue entries are from the Klingenthal firms Meinel & Herold, and Hess, in the 1930s, but I've never seen an English-made instrument of this type:
  15. I have the receipt for number 196865, which is of the same model but with 30 keys, and was sold (new) for £5.0.0, on 9th January 1926. So yours must date from around 1925-26. The external finish is rosewood veneer.
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