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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. Thanks for that, eBay wouldn't show me the listing because of the seller's settings, seeing that I'm not in the United States. The writing does look similar enough to what I remember of Percy's (especially the H that looks more-like a reversed N) that I'll dig out the samples I have for comparison, though his usual autograph seems to have been more florid.
  2. It sounds unlikely in that Percy Honri was famous for playing the Maccann duet concertina, not the English system. I have seen duet concertinas that were marked with his name (in the possession of his grandson Peter Honri), and I have several autographed photographs of him, but what I can't find is the eBay auction - whilst the provision of a link is very important in these circumstances...
  3. It's a lovely instrument, and potentially a good buy for somebody, though it's probably some 40 years older than you think. New Models with a paper name label and a quatrefoil cutout on the left side (for the serial number) were made in the late 1880s/early 1890s. From the late 1890s onwards you'd expect them to have an engraved nickel silver name label set into the right, and a nickel silver lozenge engraved with the serial number on the left, hand side.
  4. The ends of good quality concertinas are normally laminated (using thin sheets of wood glued together with the grain running crossways) for strength, and only cheap instruments normally had ends of solid timber. Inlay work like this is done using thin veneers, carefully cut to shape and glued on as the top layer. If the ends were indeed made in Killarney, the light wood would be arbutus, and the dark one may be bog oak.
  5. I find it very hard to imagine Lachenal building such a "showpiece"/"exhibition" instrument using the same construction methods employed for building the ends of cheap German concertinas Alex, instead of in the usual English manner. If they did actually build the instrument like this in the first place, I can only imagine it was as a special order for someone who supplied the ends to them ready-made, and that they did so under protest. Otherwise the ends may have been fitted retrospectively to a pre-existing instrument.
  6. Coming back directly on topic - I forgot to mention a most unusual feature of #9952 Bill, in that there is no rebate around the endplates of it. Though that feature continued to be left off on cheap instruments, it would otherwise be unheard of on a high-quality instrument by the 1860s - suggesting that the maker/inlayer of the ends was neither in the concertina trade, nor familiar with the design parameters for the ends of a high-quality instrument. Do you have any pictures of the insides of the ends, showing how they are made?
  7. Yes, I'd get to see rather a lot of both Charlie and his 10-key, 6-voice,Walters, and Anders with his 13-key, 8-voice, Baldoni, Bartoli (the one in my photo) Peter. seeing that we regularly meet up.
  8. Could it have created for a wealthy 19th century Irish-American then, I wonder Bill? Killarney was already a popular tourist town in the mid-19th century, especially after the coming of the railway in 1854, and Queen Victoria in 1861, and hence the manufacture of shamrock-adorned souvenir "Killarney ware" there. Or maybe the ends were made elsewhere in imitation of the Killarney style? The instrument may even have been an "Exhibition piece"... But certainly later generations of Irish-Americans have gone for accordions decorated with shamrocks, harp and tricolour:
  9. The choice of timbers and the look of the inlays (especially their incorporation of shamrocks!) remind me of some 19th century Irish "Killarney ware"/ "Killarney work" (furniture. boxes, etc.) that I saw recently, whilst the hand-cut fretwork and the construction of the ends is highly unusual on a Lachenal. I'd wonder if they might have been outsourced, or even retrofitted? (And does it have Irish connections?) Mind you, the papers are highly unusual too. Even my equally ornate ebony-ended Lachenal, #15347, probably made in 1865 (quite possibly for one of the Lachenal sisters when they toured Britain performing that year - Marie Lachenal is to be seen playing a similar one in two photographs) has regular ends with machine-cut fretwork on it: I would suggest #9952 was probably made about 1862.
  10. I wish I'd known that yesterday Peter, I paid €17 for it in a certain shop in Ennis... 🙄 Well worth it though! ☺️
  11. I'm sorry but this instrument has now been sold, via facebook.
  12. I'm selling a lovely C/G ("concert pitch"), 30-key + drone, Anglo that is basically an unstamped Jeffries - and as good as/better than some that fetch a lot more with that firm's name on them. The instrument was made by John Crabb and his son Henry (i) in the 1880s (who are known to have built many similar instruments at the time for Charles Jeffries). It has very responsive reeds and a light action with riveted levers, and comes with a new gig bag.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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