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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. The ledger calls it, and several more of them, an "A.G. Duet" and I know of other examples (some of which have been discussed here in the past) that are indeed very large Anglos with a bass row such as I've described - I'm not guessing or making this up... In the thread Wheatstone anglo special gavdav said:
  2. If, as I've already suggested, this one was indeed originally made as an Anglo then that row would have consisted of unisonoric bass notes.
  3. I wonder if, like some other A.G. Duets that have turned up, this one might have been made with Anglo fingering and a row of unisonoric basses? Perhaps what was "specially commissioned" in 1951, by Jim Harvey, was the instrument's conversion to Jeffries duet fingering?
  4. I knew Jim Harvey in the 1970s and visited his home several times. He told me then that he used to play the Jeffries duet, and that he'd had Jeffries convert his 4-row Anglo into their duet system. This instrument must have been bought secondhand by him in 1951, because the ledger lists #30740 as a 68-key "A.G.Duet" made in October 1925. I thought it looked much too nice to have been made post-war! Edited to add: And it has 68 keys, as the ledger states, not 64 like it says in the auction listing.
  5. I don't think Packie ever owned a concertina, but always borrowed them. Some 40 years ago I rebuilt a 32-key Jeffries for people in North Clare that was in a dreadful state, but it had been Packie's favourite at one time. In later years O'Connor's bought the 4-row Jeffries for him to play, but only the premises, he couldn't take it elsewhere with him. After his death it was displayed in the glass wall cabinet behind where the musicians used to play, along with photos and some miniature instruments that included a small melodeon and German concertina they got from me, and a miniature set of uilleann pipes that Eugene Lamb made them. Everything else is still there, but "Packie's" concertina was removed when the O'Connors sold the pub.
  6. The originals were 1" x (and 7/8" x) No. 1 (raised countersunk-headed) screws, but they haven't been made in something like 100 years! The best available alternatives are (slightly thicker) 1" x No.2 (flat countersunk-headed) screws which (though they too haven't been made in a long time) can still be got from old stock, and are available (in packs of 25 screws) on eBay: 25 x NETTLEFOLDS 1" x 2 STEEL COUNTERSUNK SLOTTED HEAD WOOD SCREWS NOS SCREW Intriguingly, when I was talking to direct descendants of Louis Lachenal (who was a "small screw and piano rivet maker" before he made concertinas), I was told that Nettlefold (who founded the firm that eventually became GKN) had been his apprentice.
  7. 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.
  8. 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...
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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?
  13. 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.
  14. 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:
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