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Stephen Chambers

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  1. The reality, from my experience of a number of modern makers, would be that it takes one man about 3 weeks to build a concertina of "traditional", English-style, construction. So an individual maker might produce a mere 10 or 12 instruments per year, allowing for some repairs too. Put that into your equation ! You also then have the problem that different makers all want to use different reeds. After all, at the end of the day, the reeds probably contribute more than anything else to the difference in sound/response of a Jeffries, a Wheatstone, or a Lachenal (etc).
  2. I can tell you that Fred had a lot more ! The late Paul Davies was friendly with Fred, and very enthusiastic about his music, he even learnt to play in that more duet-like style, or "fairground-organ music" as Paul sometimes called it. He too made some tapes of Fred, I must find out what happened to them... Anyway, Paul told me that Fred acquired lots of Jeffries over the years, when they were not so sought after, and that he kept pairs of them, in various tunings/pitches, "for when my mate comes round" so that they could play together once more, like the old days. (This was an old friend he had loved to play with, but who never could "come round" again) Paul, and others, bought an occasional one of these instruments off Fred over the years. Then, at the end of Fred's life, Paul was offered the bulk of them (the family still kept some), and asked me to meet him at Euston Station with my car, because he couldn't carry them all. I forget exactly how many there were, but I can tell you that they filled two mailbags ! (Perhaps a dozen, or so, Jeffries and one Wheatstone ? Fred thought little of the Wheatstone, which was relegated to his spare room, and neither did Paul, who made me a present of it !) So from all this I would reckon that Fred must have had about 20 Jeffries anglos, most of which were in pairs regarding key & pitch, and an "inconsequential" Wheatstone.
  3. Not at the moment. All that I can glean from the Army Lists is that Captain Gardnor was a young officer in an elite cavalry regiment. (The 1st Life Guards are the No. 1 Regiment on the Army List, the 2nd Life Guards are No. 2. They are the mounted Royal Guards, the ones who still wear the breastplates and helmets with horsehair plumes.) In order to have been an officer in such a Regiment, he must have come from a wealthy family. Not that I have been able to ascertain, but the ledgers are not a complete record.
  4. Hi Clive, The Symphonium was the direct ancestor of Wheatstone's concertina, patented by him in 1829. It consists of a small, rectangular metal box, with a hole in the front plate into which you blow, and it has buttons on the two ends which are arranged in the same layout as an English concertina. In essence it is a mouth-blown English concertina ! I have four of them, made between 1829 & 1832.
  5. The evidence would seem to suggest 27th December 1833 as being a very possible date for that, but unfortunately it is a matter of interpretation of the available sources, and it is not possible to be definitive. It would be wonderful to find, but I'm not aware of any such evidence. I think I've already dealt, quite fully, with this issue in my last-but-one posting. At least he agrees it was four-sided, not six ! I don't recall doing so, though it is quite possible. It was a very hectic weekend, which I wouldn't have missed for anything (in fact I should have been in Paris that weekend, with my former girlfriend. Enough said !) The main German contacts that I made at Michaelstein were Maria Dunkel and Dr. Dieter Krickeberg. As a result of the exposure my collection got at the Symposium, I was contacted by the Schlossbergmuseum, in Chemnitz, and lent them some pieces (including the two oldest Chemnitz-made concertinas on display) for their exhibition "Sehnsucht aus dem Blasebalg" ("Yearning out of the Bellows") in 2001. I exchanged a lot of information with Peer Ehmke, at the Museum, who did some excellent research on German concertina-making. Unfortunately the Schlossbergmuseum was prevented from publishing the catalogue they had planned , with this research, due to financial cutbacks, but there is a website. (Follow the hyperlink, click on the tab *Galerie* and then its subheadings, to see some of the instruments exhibited.) By the way, I would thoroughly recommend the wonderful album "Erinnerungen" ("Memories") by the Chemnitz concertina and Bandonion player Siegfried Jugel, which was brought out in connection with the Exhibition (price Euro 10.00), you can even hear extracts of five tracks from it on the main website. (Follow this link.) It was a great joy to meet and hear Siegfried, he makes the large German concertina sound like a Duet, he is possibly the last of the great players of these instruments, having learnt from his father.
  6. More likely one of his customers said something along the lines of "Goodness Mr. Wheatstone, these new-fangled Symphonium thingies of yours are a jolly wheeze, but they quite take my breath away ! Couldn't you put a bellows on it ?" If you have ever tried to play a Symphonium you will know just what I mean !
  7. It answers many of the points in your latest posting too. If you want to get a copy of the entire (very interesting) publication, most of which is in German, it can be ordered online from Stiftung Kloster Michaelstein. It is Konferenzberichte 62 (Conference Proceedings 62) in their series of publications, the title being "Harmonium und Handharmonika", price Euro 29.80 + postage (click on the hyperlink, go to the bottom of the webpage, & click on *Forsetzung unter "Michaelsteiner Konferenzberichte"*, bottom of next page click on *Heft 61-62*, next page go to "Heft 62" and click on *Diesen Titel online bestellen*). However, there is an error (a different publication) coming up at the moment when you try to order it online, so I will email them to see if they can correct that.** ** I looked at their website today (24/01/04), and I see that this has now been corrected, so no excuses for not buying a copy ! You are right in saying that the English instrument was described as a concertina in reports of Regondi's 1846/7 tour, however the name does not seem to have come into common usage and melophon/melofon (used at the time of his 1840/1 tour) continued to be used for it, in both Germany & Austria-Hungary, into the 20th century. (And it was manufactured as such, in those countries, though in relatively small quantities.) I think that Carl Friederich Zimmermann is a very signficant figure in all this, he had worked in Chemnitz, he probably invented the Carlsfelder concertina (it has even been suggested that he may have been the true inventor of the Bandonion), he started the concertina industry in Carlsfeld (in 1847) and founded the factory that was taken over (in 1864) by his foreman Ernst Luis Arnold, father of the legendary Bandonion maker Alfred Arnold. He really was at the heart of the concertina industry in Germany, yet he came to the Great Exhibition in 1851 still calling his concertinas "accordions" & "harmonicas", even though the name "German concertina" had already been in use, in England, since at least 1846. It was only on his return home that he started to use the name concertina ! Yes, I have seen it. It appeared in the "Chemnitzer Anzeiger Nr. 57" of 19th July 1834, page 359. I have a photocopy of both it, and various other advertisements for Uhlig, both before and after that date. There is no patent. I believe this is erroneous. Early German concertinas were rectangular in shape, but there is an advertisement for the maker C.F. Reichel, in the "Chemnitz Adressbuch" for 1855, that shows rectangular, hexagonal, octagonal and even circular models were available by that date. There seems to me to be a corollary here, in naming one instrument to suggest symphony/symphonious/symphonic, and its successor suggesting concerto/concert/concerted/concertino. I see the same mind at work. I don't. After all, we know that Wheatsone's instrument had been described as a "Symphonium with bellows", and also as a Melophon/Melofon, not only as a Concertina. Perhaps you would be happier if he had added the words "by myself" after "has since been named the concertina", but unfortunately he didn't. Of course it wasn't, it wasn't invented for another four and a half years ! Which is five/six years after we know that the name was already in use for Wheatstone's instrument. A lot of names got reused for other instruments, causing great confusion, as we have seen. I'm sorry, but I would interpret those two formulations completely oppositely to yourself.
  8. Alan Ward's article on Fred Kilroy appeared in two parts, the first was in Traditional Music No. 1, mid 1975, pp.15-18 (and photo back cover), the second was in Traditional Music No. 3, early 1976, pp.5-10 (and photo front cover). It does not seem to have been made available on the internet (yet ?). He was an amazing player.
  9. Goran & Jim, I've been away over the last three days, and come back to all your interesting points and questions. The simplest answer to many of them might be "take a look at my Michaelstein Paper", where they are already dealt with (and I am presently working with Bob Gaskins to make it available online**), but I realise that that isn't too helpful at the moment, in the context of this forum, so I will try to reply to the major issues raised : **This paper, "An Annotated Catalogue of Historic European Free-Reed Instruments", is now available online, if you click on this link. Uhlig did not name his instrument "Konzertina". He first advertised it, in July 1834, as an "Accordeon nach neur Art" (new kind of Accordion). Up until the 1850's the German concertina was usually called, in Germany, a "20 toniges Accordion" (20 note Accordion) if it had a single row of 10 buttons (the original form), and a "40 toniges Accordion" if it had two rows totalling 20 buttons (the Germans have always tended to count the notes of their concertinas, while the English have always counted the buttons). Larger versions of the instrument, with more notes/rows, were (most confusingly for us) called a "Harmonica" (a term still commonly used in Germany to describe an accordion). However, there does seem to have been a degree of interchangeability between the two terms, "Accordion" and "Harmonica". I believe that the name "Concertina" was probably introduced to Germany (for the German instrument) by the Carlsfeld maker C.F. Zimmermann, on his return from the Great Exhibition of 1851, in London, where he had exhibited his "accordions of forty and twenty notes", as well as "chromatic concert harmonicas". In the early 1850's he published a tutor for the instrument, "Praktischer Selbstlehrer fur Concertina mit 58 und 74 Tonen" (More-Practical Self-Instructor for Concertina with 29 and 37 keys), which is probably the earliest use, by a German maker, of the name "Concertina". The text is in both German and English, so perhaps he adopted the English name with export, to English-speaking countries, in mind ? The later spelling, "Konzertina", is a result of the revision of German spelling by the late 19th century German nationalist movement. I am sure that the origin of the name "Concert - ina" (in late 1833 ?) lies with the same man who named his previous instrument "Symphoni - um" (in 1829). Study of Charles Wheatstone's Patent of 1829 will reveal that it covers mainly a fingering system (which we now refer to as "English concertina" fingering), shown applied to various free reed instruments, one of which is a form of Symphonium with a bellows. He took pains to explain that he was not claiming the invention of any of the types of instruments shown, but only the application of his fingering system to them. There was no need for him to take out another patent when, soon afterwards, he combined features of his Symphonium (especially the fingering), with features of Demian's Accordion (which was being sold in the Wheatstone shop), to produce the more developed "Symphonion with bellows" that Captain Gardnor purchased, and Charles Roylance wrote about. Wes : I too have wondered if 1838 is a misprint for 1833. It would make much more sense, but the date actually appears at the end of the previous paragraph (not evident in the quoted text), so I am left wondering if it has any relevance to Captain Gardnor's purchase anyway, and if there is, perhaps, a date missing from the paragraph which does deal with that topic ? Perhaps it should read : *The first instrument was sold to Capt: Gardner of the 2nd Life Guards in 1833, it was then called the "Symphonian" with bellows, and not until December 27th of that year, was it named the Concertina.* ?????? Certainly Charles Roylance's work could have greatly benefitted from the services of a good editor, not forgetting a proof-reader ! But I still regard it as a very important (though flawed) document in concertina history.
  10. Unfortunately, Charles Roylance did not specify what he meant by "that year" (hence my "[sic]" after the statement), presumably he is referring to whatever year this "Symphonian with bellows" was sold, but the best information that I have found, for the appearance of the concertina, is that reference to 1833. So it would seem, according to the information we have, which all seems to originate with Wheatstone's. Wow indeed ! I wonder if Captain Gardnor perhaps traded it in later to get a "proper" one, but it now looks as if Roylance already owned it at the time he wrote about it (I now have a letter from his son that mentions their possession of it). I have sometimes been asked how it plays, to which I usually reply something along the lines of "A bit like driving the first car, you wouldn't want to go very far."
  11. I guess I must know more about the Triskel concertina than anybody else, seeing that it is my project, and I have been working on it, when time & money allowed, over the last three or four years. However, any listings on websites are premature, as they have not even gone into production yet ! (Though there are about a dozen pre-production instruments that have been sold, and are in circulation.) The intention is to build an affordable concertina that plays well and is repairable, it is not meant to be the best instrument that I could design/make. The response to the few examples, that have been seen thus far, has been extremely favourable. A common comment from players trying it out has been "it plays better than a Lachenal". The present model is a 30-key anglo, with walnut ends, 7-fold leatherette bellows, accordion reeds and authentic Wheatstone MayFair actions (old stock from the '50's). The price (with case) is expected to be in the region of Euro699.00, but I will not be taking any deposits until they really are in production. To that end (and also to have more time to look after my elderly parents) I am in the process of selling my shop, McNeill's in Dublin, and I am trying to buy a house in Co. Clare, where I intend to start manufacturing "The Triskel", and carrying on/making available my researches on concertina history, maybe even setting up a bit of a museum (?). I hope this posting clarifies the matter !
  12. The footage that turns up of Percy Honri & his daughter Mary is absolutely wonderful ! You can see the experience of all those years of Music Hall in Percy's mannerisms, as well as mouthing the words, his face seems to be miming the old songs he plays at the end. I found it very moving to actually see, and hear, him perform after all these years of only seeing him in photos & on posters, and only having the few snippets on the "Working the Halls" flexidisc to listen to. Awesome ! Mary's voice was quite a revelation too, but then Percy was the "Champion Boy Tenor of the World" before he ever became a concertinist. There is more of her, & her piano accordion, on another newsreel if you search under "Honri". There is also some footage of the great, Edeophone-playing, mime & clown "Grock".
  13. ... and the man demonstrating it, in the newsreel, is none other than my late friend Harry Minting, who was then the Sales Manager of C. Wheatstone & Co. It was a great surprise when Bob Gaskins showed me the clip, on his laptop, in London. I had no idea that it existed. However, it is not the only documentary evidence to suggest that this "pride of the collection" is, as announced in the film clip, "the first concertina ever made" : Charles Roylance wrote about it, in the mid 1870's (and hence within living memory of its being made), in the Remarks section of "How to Learn the English Concertina Without a Master", when he stated that "The first Instrument was sold to Capt: Gardner [sic] of the 2nd Life Guards, it was then called the "Symphonian" [sic] with bellows, and not until December the 27th in that year [sic] was it named the Concertina." I had already noticed the name "T. GARDNOR" stamped twice into the top edge of the instrument's case, but I had supposed that it might be the name of the cabinetmaker who made the case. However, Roylance made me think again, so I paid a visit to the National Library, here in Dublin, to consult the Army Lists, and found that "Captain Gardner" was actually named Thomas Gardnor, so both his initial and the spelling of his surname match the name on the case. Hence this must have been Captain Gardnor's concertina, that Roylance was writing about, and therefore it really is "the first concertina ever made", as claimed in the newsreel. So the answer to the question about the oldest Wheatstone concertina in private hands is "The Very First !" And here's a picture of it : (Edited to correct title of Roylance's Tutor.)
  14. Malcolm, Oh I certainly don't rule out that Crabb's might have made your Jedcertina, like I said, I know that Harry built some anglos for Dallas, after Lachenal's closed down & Mr. Sanders (from Lachenal's) came to work with him, in the late '30's. But I haven't seen any evidence that Jedcertinas were made that late, and I've never seen a Crabb with woodscrews instead of endbolts, but Harry was building some very cheap instruments at the time. I have one of his anglos here from that period that I was sold (by somebody who should have known better) as a Lachenal, because it has mahogany ply ends with the same fretwork design, but the giveaway is that it is evidently fretcut by hand rather than spindle-cut like a Lachenal (I heard of somebody buying one off eBay recently that everybody thought was a Lachenal too). Goodness, I had forgotten about your visit to the shop, put it down to premature senility ! I am in the process of selling the place, so I can see to my ageing parents, as well as working on my research & the concertina-making project. There has been some very promising progress with the latter since then, but I haven't had the time, or the money, to bring it to fruition just yet. Stephen
  15. Malcolm, All the Jedcertinas that I have seen were made by Lachenal & Co., using the same body as their cheap mahogany-ended anglos. However Harry Crabb did make some anglos for Dallas in the late '30's (it seems that it may not have been just a share of the Salvation Army business that he inherited from Lachenal's ?). I haven't seen, or heard of Phil Inglis for about 7 or 8 years (mind you I haven't seen you for at least 15 !), I wonder what he's up to ? It looks like there is a 20-key Campbell's, made by Geoge Jones, for sale on eBay at the moment, item # 2370566245, complete with the common misreading of "Irongate" for "Trongate" in the description. I've got a wonderful photo of Campbell's shop front, around 1890, with various concertinas, accordions and lots of other instruments in the window (it's a very crowded window display). Stephen
  16. Campbell's were probably the most important dealers in free reed instruments in the British Isles. They sold "own label" concertinas made for them in Germany, and also by both Lachenal and Jones in London. However, they were much better known for their melodeons, which they sold in huge numbers, from the mid 1870's up until WW2. They were pioneers of selling by mail order, with free carriage to any address in Great Britain or Ireland, advertising in many newspapers & magazines, and claiming 150,000 Testimonials in a 1900 advertisement. I saw this instrument on eBay, and was tempted by it myself, but the poor condition put me off it (though I think Neil Wayne bought it ?). As has already been said, it is a "piano system" concertina, and appears to be of German construction. The model was patented, in London, in 1862 (July 9.-No.1976) by Charles Frederick William Rust, acting for the German manufacturer Ferdinand Glier. They were later made by both George Jones and Lachenal & Co. (I even saw a Wheatstone Aeola version once !), but the system has always been flawed, as it is not possible for anyone to play with their thumbs on a concertina, making the instrument pretty useless to a keyboard player, for whom it was supposedly intended. Stephen
  17. Malcolm, I would reckon it's a bass English with wrist, as well as thumb, straps. Nice one indeed Chris ! Thanks to both of you, I now know who some of my Salvation Army photos are of, though I've also got some earlier, 1880's/'90's, cabinet photographs of individual Salvationists & their concertinas. Stephen
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