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Stephen Chambers

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Everything posted by Stephen Chambers

  1. I was forgetting that there's such a gap in the Anglo price lists there, but I'm fortunate enough to have THREE of them (2 originals and a photocopy) from the inter-war years. But any Wheatstone price lists are very rare, and especially the Anglo ones. I'll scan one and post it here. Only, of course, it would be a huge help if you'd provided the serial number, so I could see the actual ledger entry that you're trying to interpret/enquiring about. But, looking at the entries for nos. 33991-4 in January 1936 it's evident that 55 is in the column for model numbers, and R (for rosewood ends) and "30 Keys" are in the description column, whilst though 33997-9 are also shown as No. 55, they are described as N - the nickel-ended version of the same model.
  2. Certainly, 63990 would be 1880, 163990 would be 1898.
  3. The codes themselves are no secret and can be found online in the Wheatstone Concertina Pricelists. There was a collaborative effort on here with the ledger description abbreviations years ago (I'll try and find it), but even the Wheatstone workers weren't always consistent in their descriptions.
  4. The model numbers denoted the quality, and number of buttons, of standard models. Anything else was a "Special" that in certain cases might be described by an abbreviation such as "AG Duet" or (for 28473, above yours) "Bar" for Baritone, etc. Any instrument described as an "AG Duet" that I've seen has had a fourth, innermost, duet row of unisonor notes.
  5. Your Lachenal Anglo, number 173740, would have been made in 1905.
  6. It's not the price, which was only £8 .. 10s on a late-1920's Wheatstone price list that I have, but No. 55 was the model number for Wheatstone's 30-key rosewood-ended (mid-price range) Anglos. The ledgers were only factory records, kept by staff who knew what the model numbers and abbreviations meant, whilst we're still working out what they all signified today...
  7. Here's a machine translation of an article in Russian about the instrument: Blaginton Details Published: April 11, 2018 In the 80-90s of the 19th century, the production of meloharmonics, or, as they began to be called, Russian concertinas, was launched in Odessa. They were made by Blagin and Nikolaev. The works of the masters were of high quality. For the original simple design, skillful manufacture and for the high effect of the introduction of the melogormonic (Russian concertina) in schools in the classroom with choirs - masters I.F. Blagin and E.V. Nikolaev received prizes at the World Exhibitions: Paris - in 1889, Chicago and Antwerp - in 1893 and 1894. But, perhaps, Ivan Fedorovich Blagin, a well-known Odessa master for custom-made any harmonicas, fell to the lot of fame. In addition, he was well versed in the technique of playing the concertina and other harmonicas. Many pop and circus artists from other cities turned to him, as he was famous not only for his high skill, but also for his ingenuity. He was fluent in all technological operations. He invented the Russian concertina of a special design and arrangement of keyboards, he called "Blaginton". In 1893, in Odessa, Ivan Fedorovich Blagin published the School for the newly invented and privileged Russian concertino "Blaginton". For the invention of this instrument, Ivan Fedorovich Blagin was awarded the Gold Medal of the Paris Academy of Inventors. But only in 1902 Blagin received a patent for the manufacture of Russian concertinas "Blaginton". And although the master has been making blaquintons for almost 30 years, very few of them have survived to this day. In 2008, Valentina Andreevna, the great-granddaughter of the craftsman Chernikov, donated to the Museum the blaginton she had inherited. She recalls that this concertina was presumably made by Blagin in 1906-1908 for Tsarevich Alexei, the son of Tsar Nicholas II, and that the master himself taught the sick boy to play this instrument. Tsarevich Alexei played the blaginton until his departure from Odessa, and after his departure, the concertina remained with the master. After the death of Ivan Fedorovich, his wife kept the concertina as a memory of the royal family and the work of her husband. The concertina was passed down from generation to generation and was carefully kept as a precious relic and memory of a talented master. “During the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), when the Germans came close to Odessa, my grandmother,” recalled Valentina Andreevna, “buried the instrument in the garden, planting a birch tree in this place, so that it would be easier to find later.” The family was evacuated, and after the war returned to Odessa, the hidden instrument was dug up. All subsequent years, blaginton and other valuable materials were kept in the family of Yakov, Valentina Andreevna's nephew. He also kept a patent for the invention of Blaginton. But one day there was a fire in his apartment. The patent and many other valuable historical items burned down. Fortunately, the blaginton and the medallion presented to the craftsman by the son of Nicholas II have survived. After the fire, Yakov gave these items to Valentina Andreevna for safekeeping. In 2009, after consulting with all her relatives, Valentina Andreevna brought a blaginton and a medallion to the Museum to offer them for the museum collection. Now in the permanent exhibition of the Museum, among Russian harmonicas and button accordions, this rare instrument, the blaginton, is demonstrated.
  8. I can't say for certain what reeds are in this particular instrument, but certainly Harry Geuns' professional model 142-toniges (Tango) Bandonions come with parallel shaped steel reeds on zinc or (optional) aluminium long-plates. I've known Harry for a long time - in fact you'll see photos of some of my early instruments in the "History" pages of his website: https://bandoneon-maker.com/bandonion-history-collection/history-1/
  9. Ironically, as more-developed (with more buttons, making them chromatic on both press and draw) versions of bi-sonor concertina-family instruments have appeared, the more uni-sonor their playing has tended to become - in that many of todays Irish traditional players seek to play more smoothly than the old-timers by playing phrases in one direction of the bellows, whilst the preferred Argentinian tango style is to play exclusively on the (more expressive) draw notes, using the wind-key as a "dump valve" between phrases to void the bellows of wind - that's what you're hearing! Watch and listen to the maestro himself, Astor Piazzola, in action in this video: By the way, I was closely involved in the exhibition "Sehnsucht aus dem Blasebalg. Concertina & Bandoneon" fand vom 01.Juli bis 28.Oktober 2001 im Schloßbergmuseum Chemnitz statt.
  10. It took me a while to find it seeing that you didn't provide a link, so here's one for anybody who's interested to see Bob's video: Tedrow concertina bellows drop test And I notice he says himself that "I'm only showing this because it's a pretty good job" - so it's above average in terms of expected air-tightness. But personally I don't believe in drop-testing of concertina bellows because the heavy weight of the dropping end is creating a not-inconsiderable vacuum inside the concertina that's potentially harmful to delicate glued structures of thin leather, felt, fabric, and cardboard. I prefer to make a pressure test by holding the instrument in a playing position and briefly pressing the bellows to make sure there is resistance, and that I can't hear a hiss of escaping air, or the sound of a note ciphering. That should be enough. Too much is made of being "absolutely air tight", especially by beginners, when it isn't really possible to achieve without making the instrument unplayably stiff in the bellows and the springs. Whilst seasoned musicians like the renowned uilleann piper Seamus Ennis could play the most sublime music on an instrument that leaked like a sieve...
  11. Like I said, it's middle of the range model, but made when Wheatstone's were still building higher quality concertinas than their late 1930's ones, and those were much better than their post-war ones (though the expensive post-war octagonal ones were better than the hexagonal ones they were making cheaply at the same time). Their best quality 30-key model was No. 59, described in a 1920's catalogue as "Ebony, finest finish, dark morocco leather, six-fold bellows, spherical end silver keys, bushed throughout, screwed notes, extra superior steel reeds, improved action giving rapid articulation." Nickel-plated fretwork cost £1 extra on model No. 53, £1 ,, 5s on No. 55, and £1 ,, 10s on No.59. The nickel-plate is on solid nickel, but stays much shinier because it is plated. Metal ends produce a brighter sound. The default key system was always C/G, but other keys (especially Bb/F, or Ab/Eb) were made to order.
  12. #50074 isn't post-war, it would have been made in 1937 when Wheatstone's re-started the numbering of their Anglos at 50000, but it's a cheaper No. 53 model with mahogany ends, simple fretwork, hook action, and (I expect) casein plastic buttons. Your #30320, model No. 55, is a higher grade of instrument with rosewood woodwork, full nickel-plated fretwork. riveted action, and nickel-capped buttons, so it should play better and be louder when it's restored.
  13. I wouldn't trade it for a post-war one, even Wheatstone's then best octagonal model, but some people might.
  14. Only Jacokotze is in the Western Cape of South Africa, where concertinas are relatively cheap...
  15. So, with the batch number 27, its serial number is 30320 then, dating from 2nd October 1924. Everything about it tallies with the model number, date, and the written description in the ledger. There's no need to be coy about giving people the single most important piece of information for them to be able to interpret your concertina accurately.
  16. Better still then, I should have put my glasses on to study the out-of-focus photo of the riveted action (lever mechanism) for myself instead of accepting somebody else's assertion that it was Lachenal-style (as Wheatstone's became from the mid-1930s onwards).
  17. It looks typical for a late-1930's, middle price range No. 55, Linota with (optional-extra) nickel-plated tops.
  18. Yes, entirely possible. Lachenal had separate serial number sequences for English, Anglo, and Duet concertinas (and even a separate sequence for Crane duets while the patent on them was in force). So Crane duet #4066 would date from the beginning of 1923 or, if it's #4866 then it's from the beginning of 1932. Though #4066 seems much more likely because the instrument appears to have bone buttons - around 1928 casein (plastic) buttons were introduced at Lachenal's...
  19. The simplest method ever was probably that used in Wheatstone's first concertina (my avatar, and the most precious instrument in my research collection of early concertinas and related instruments) and a handful more of the very first, "open-pallet model" concertinas that were ever made. The idea, like much-else in the design and choice of materials, was borrowed from Cyrill Demian's (1829 Patent) accordions, and the action-board is a sliding fit into the end-frames (much like the lid of a wooden pencil case) secured by two screws: But subsequent open-pallet model Wheatstone concertinas had six end-bolts instead, which must have been considered a design improvement...
  20. The case is very much in the style of the "campaign furniture" that was popular in the 19th century with army officers/explorers/missionaries for use "on the move". The brass strapping reinforced the item, and also kept it together if the hide glue melted in the heat of the tropics. There are concertinas that were made with reinforced corners too, and bowl-back mandolins with screwed-on metal strapping to try and keep their necks in alignment. It looks very much like a Stagi, and I see the picture was painted in 1999.
  21. That number is impossible for a Lachenal English-system, they started at 5000 (to reflect the number of them that Louis Lachenal had produced for Wheatstone's) in 1858, and metal ends only came to be used many years after that. There seems to be a digit missing as as you would expect the number to be 5 digits long, so 4458X would have been made in 1906.
  22. Wheatstone's seem to have given their models neither names nor numbers at the time, but these inlaid rosewood-ended ones sold for £12 ,, 12s, and were sometimes described as "for concerts" - so I'd be inclined to refer to them as "the twelve guinea model" or "the concert model".
  23. Speaking from personal experience, you can only do one or the other - if he was buying instruments and fixing them up to sell, he wouldn't have time to do your repairs...
  24. Gebr. Gündel (Guendel Bros.) was a manufacturer of accordions in Klingenthal, Saxony, in Eastern Germany. They were founded in 1872 and still in business into the 1960s. They produced piano accordions bearing their brand name Barcarole, and inexpensive diatonic accordions/melodeons bearing their own name.
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