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Man of Kent

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  1. I have been monitoring Concertinas on Ebay for a few weeks now. One thing that came to my mind is that there seems to have been a "standard" model made by Lachenal which is a 20 button + air button Anglo, wooden ends, bone buttons, 5 fold. On Ebay UK there seems to be at least one of these every single week, sometimes there are two or three on auction in parallel. As I write this, there are two up on sale, one in need for restauration and one fully restored.* I must have seen about 10-12 of those during the last couple of weeks.


    Judging from the prices those instruments go for, it seems as if there is little virtue in restoring them - almost inevitably, the final price for those in need of restoration settles between 100 and 150 pounds, and those fully restored have a hard time finding a buyer at the (almost always asked for) starting price of 300 pounds. Depending on the state of the concertina, the work and material one has to put in to get the instruments in a good working order easily exceeds 100 pounds (and a restorer naturally also wishes to make some revenue on the project).


    I suspect that many of those concertinas end up as reed donors - given that concertina reeds are hard to come by and those that are on sale tend to be dear (David Leese asks 7,50 for a used steel reed), buying such an instrument at 150 Pounds pays off even if only half of the 40 reeds are in working condition. Probably the buttons and pieces of the hardware can be reused as well, and if some collectors have enough carcasses piled up in their basements, at some point there'll be enough pieces left to put together one half way decent instrument from the pieces of x wrecks (which may at that point even pay off when sold for under or around 300 Pounds).


    I'm just curious about the input from pro and semi pro restorers here. Have I just unearthed the secret of your trade, or stated the obvious that everybody knew already, or am I way off? What I find fascinating is that the same type of instrument only with a few buttons more (30 button Anglos) sells like crazy, brings in easily 1000 Pounds in good working condition and is well worth the restoration effort, whereas the poor smaller siblings are treated like, well, almost dirt? Guess that's the way the market works... maybe one of these days someone finds a way to upgrade a 20 button to a 30 button instrument with doable effort in which case the small boxes may shoot up in value again...






    I'm not sure whether this is the answer you are after, but I held that exact 'fully restored' listed concertina in my hands a few weeks back. I found splits in the internal folds of the bellows; at least three other leaks to the bottom corners; two reeds not voicing and cracks in the the wooden ends. I don't think the seller really has a great love for his concertinas that are placed on ebay. All his listings are generic, often including the phrase 'This is a fully working concertina. unlike other Lachenals whose innards are totally shot selling at this price!'. The sort of thing you might expect to hear from a market trader 'flogging' things off ...


    Personally, I wouldn't pay £300 for it in that condition.

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