Quoted from Geoff Crabb
With anything concertina, I have learnt to 'expect the unexpected'.
Having received some pictures from Richard, I can confirm that the reeds are fitted radially in the reed pans.
It is not unknown for Jeffries to have employed radial reed chambers or even a mixture of radial, semi radial and parallel to accommodate the reeds for a note range within a set physical size of instrument. In fact the amount of effort expended in planning the arrangement and executing the fitting of the reeds in some Duets including Maccann and Crane of Jeffries 'make', amazes even me.
The English in question here seems to incorporate a mixture of designs/parts normally attributed to other makers.
Here are my thoughts, right or wrong, which should in no way be considered as an estimation of the current worth of this instrument.
It is acceptable to consider C Jeffries an assembler as well as a maker. Certainly the woodwork inside and out is reminiscent of some early Lachenal built Wheatstones and the three digit number (116) stamped inside the bellows frames is indicative of a batch number which would be unusual considering the uncertain number of Jeffries English that exist or were actually made.
It is possible that the instrument started life as a bone/ivory button, brass reeded, crank action Lach' and, like some past makers and some of today, Jeffries 'upgraded' it by installing bushings, metal buttons, replacement reeds and the action. From the pictures it does appear that the reeds are fitted very close to or slightly proud of the edge of the pan which suggests that the reeds are not original. The levers are of the thick wire type used by Crabb and supplied initially to Jeffries. It would be fairly simple to install a suitably fashioned Jeffries name plate into the existing fretwork. If the reeds were air efficient, a four fold bellows may have been sufficient and not have needed replacement.
In conclusion, depending on how the instrument performs when refurbished, I would have no hesitation in referring to it as a 'Jeffries'.
Well, having purchased this instrument, and viewed it in detail while restoring it, here's what I think.
The fretwork is a very common pattern amoung instruments of this period. Very similar to my 1850's Wheatstone and my 1890's Lachenal. It also matches the two images I've been able to find on the web of confirmed Jeffries english, tho both of those have metal ends and much additional scrollwork outside and inside the circle of fretwork.
The end bolts are Lachenal thread pitch. The buttons are solid metal as in my 1890's Lachenal.
The action is similar in all respects to several Wheatstones I own.
The bracket for the thumbstrap is neither Wheatstone nor Lachenal, having only two screws, one into the action board and one into the outer end piece only. These are diagonal to the level of the instrument with the shorter screw toward the rear. The strap screw nuts are rectangular with 2 screws securing each to the body.
The action board has only 2 different sizes of hole thru it. All other boxes I've worked on have only one or more than just two.
The depth of the space containing the action is shallower than any of my other boxes [About 1/8th" less than most Wheatstones], allowing for only a short key travel [about 2mm] before the pad end knocks on the end.
Many of the reeds, tho they sound lovely, are of cruder manufacture than I expect from other manufacturers. The box plays lively and quick, with good dynamic range and decent phrase length, despite only 4 folds in the bellows. The key rows are not quite parallel to the top and bottom of the box, rising about half the diameter of the key toward the front. The row heights are slightly different on either side of the box, and tho I have restored the pinky rests to their original holes, they are at slightly differing heights as well.
The bellows are well made, well broken in and still quite tight. The instrument will still sound a note sfter 35 seconds of hang time, even with only 4 folds.
All in all, I see no reason to either blame or credit any other manufacturer for this instrument. Tho a bit roughly made, it's a good instrument to play or hear.