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Robin Harrison

Odd un-named English

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This was brought to show me at a session yesterday. I said I would open it up and give the guy an opinion but I need to ask the Concertina.net team for its help.

I'm not a fret-work expert and I don't recognise the pattern; has a wooden baffles. I'm also assuming someone has moved the different coloured keys around.

On opening it up ( with the home-made replacement end bolts ) there is no makers name or any information as to maker. No batch numbers, serial numbers etc. Nickel silver reeds. Baffles are solid wood ( not ply) and looks like the top of a guitar ( spruce?) Proabaly not original ?

But this is where it gets strange.............what on earth are the comb-like add-ons. Hard to tell if they are made by the maker or added later . On one end the sycamore reed pan supports look original suggesting the former, but on the other end look newer suggesting the later.

The present owner probably wants to use it as a learner and I want to encourage him to do this. However, I think he needs to do the bulk of the work ( pads, valves etc but send out for tuning) to make it worth while.

I'm hoping the informed folk here will help me out so I can help the owner out. I think it will never play very well but may be a good starter for him.

Thanks

Robin

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This was brought to show me at a session yesterday. I said I would open it up and give the guy an opinion but I need to ask the Concertina.net team for its help.

I'm not a fret-work expert and I don't recognise the pattern; has a wooden baffles. I'm also assuming someone has moved the different coloured keys around.

On opening it up ( with the home-made replacement end bolts ) there is no makers name or any information as to maker. No batch numbers, serial numbers etc. Nickel silver reeds. Baffles are solid wood ( not ply) and looks like the top of a guitar ( spruce?) Proabaly not original ?

But this is where it gets strange.............what on earth are the comb-like add-ons. Hard to tell if they are made by the maker or added later . On one end the sycamore reed pan supports look original suggesting the former, but on the other end look newer suggesting the later.

The present owner probably wants to use it as a learner and I want to encourage him to do this. However, I think he needs to do the bulk of the work ( pads, valves etc but send out for tuning) to make it worth while.

I'm hoping the informed folk here will help me out so I can help the owner out. I think it will never play very well but may be a good starter for him.

Thanks

Robin

 

What does it sound like Robin?

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The square ended reed shoes mark this as a very early concertina, and the comb-like structures I would speculate sered the same purpose as the pins used in later examples to limit the movement of the valves.

 

It may well be that this is a historically important instrument and not one for an amateur restorer to learn on!

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What does it sound like
....can't really tell due to holes in the bellows & poor valves etc.

 

I would speculate served the same purpose as the pins
.......I just re-checked; there are pins present under the combs so probably not that.Further, you'd have to take the combs off to re-place the valves , they appear to be glued in with hide glue. Edited by Robin Harrison

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......I just re-checked; there are pins present under the combs so probably not that.Further, you'd have to take the combs off to re-place the valves , they appear to be glued in with hide glue.

I'd have to agree with Theo about the age - square end reeds are early instruments - and everything about this instrument looks slightly unusual. The writing of 'belas' on the bellows side of the reed pans recalls George Jones' spelling - although I wouldn't have thought he would have needed to note that. I can't think of a reason for the combs, but considering that they've been fitted to act on both press and draw reeds, they may be somehow connected to the reeds or valves. What's the button action like Robin?

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I would speculate served the same purpose as the pins
.......I just re-checked; there are pins present under the combs so probably not that.Further, you'd have to take the combs off to re-place the valves , they appear to be glued in with hide glue.

The following is a wild guess:

Could the combs be an early experiment intended to affect either the tone of the instrument (a fancier kind of baffle?) or the airflow to the reeds?

 

If so, it must not have succeeded in producing the desired result, or it would have been incorporated in other instruments.

 

The "experiment" idea could account for the fact that they're mounted differently on the two ends, since one could look for differences in the effect on the two ends.

It may well be that this is a historically important instrument and not one for an amateur restorer to learn on!

Definitely so, if it really was an in-shop experiment, not actually intended for sale.

But that's a very
big
if
.

And though I'm the one who has originated that speculation, I really think it's very unlikely. Or if it was such an experiment, the experimenter is likely not the original maker, but a subsequent owner.

 

Still, some collector might value its strange uncertainty enough to offer a reasonable, playable treble English in exchange for it. We'll probably never know much about its history, but I'll be interested to see what its future will be. :)

 

Edited because: How did I miss that typo when I first posted? :o

Edited by JimLucas

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Interesting that the comb slots go across the joins between pieces in some instances. That would incline me to think that the slots were cut after the pieces were put together.

 

Robin Madge

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Firstly my digital camera started to behave in a peculiar way halfway through taking some pics.

At first I could not find a serial number as I was looking for a 3-5 digit number..............turns out the serial number is # 4.

Button action..........no photo. The rod passes under some bend brass wire that looks like the top part of a shepherd's crook driven into the action board.

 

Still, some collector might value its strange uncertainty enough to offer a reasonable, playable treble English in exchange for it. We'll probably never know much about its history, but I'll be interested to see what its future will be.

This may well turn out to be the case..........I haven't been able to contact the owner yet but this is a possibility. I'll post more, when I know more.

Robin

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At first I could not find a serial number as I was looking for a 3-5 digit number..............turns out the serial number is # 4.

 

This is almost certainly a batch number, used during the building process to keep all the components of one instrument together.

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This is almost certainly a batch number, used during the building process to keep all the components of one instrument together.

I'm wondering though, in a case like this where the maker is unknown, whether the batch number and the serial number are the same thing. ie if only ten were made .

Robin

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This is almost certainly a batch number, used during the building process to keep all the components of one instrument together.

I'm wondering though, in a case like this where the maker is unknown, whether the batch number and the serial number are the same thing. ie if only ten were made .

Robin

You'll find very low numbered instruments (marked Chidley) in the Wheatstone Ledgers around the mid 1860s, including a number 4 (C1053 page 9). There are also records in those ledgers of Simpson, Case, Prowse and Scates instruments with two figure serials. Hook/Crook type actions have been noted on Scates instruments, and his early instruments would have been been square end (ie pre Lachenal) reeds. I've not been able to find any instruments with those extending points into the fret pattern (except a few non treble specials) rather than an inner circle. Maybe Stephen has seen something like this?

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Hmm, seems to everyone including Stephen stumped?

Well, I guess we'll never know! The concertina wins!

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... everything about this instrument looks slightly unusual.

The original instrument is itself unusual in various ways, and I've not seen one like it. It probably dates from the 1850s, but appears to have been "got-at" by someone later who wanted to try to "improve" it - poor thing! :blink:

 

The writing of 'belas' on the bellows side of the reed pans recalls George Jones' spelling - although I wouldn't have thought he would have needed to note that.

It also reminded me of Neville Crabb giving his occupation as "Bellass maker" when he joined the RAF, but (like you) it made me think that whoever wrote it wasn't a maker and knew relatively little about concertinas. For that matter, it was probably the same person who made the modifications, and who also wrote the note names so large inside, since the original maker appears to have stamped them in small letters on the partitioned side of the reedpan - which were then hidden by the added combed pieces between the partitions.

 

I can't think of a reason for the combs, but considering that they've been fitted to act on both press and draw reeds, they may be somehow connected to the reeds or valves.

It's just about impossible to tell without handling the instrument, but the large baffles (with the circular cutouts) inside the bellows frames might possibly be original (but not the combing of them) as there were various experiments being tried by makers at the time (Wheatstone, Scates, Case, Lachenal & maybe others) to try to equalise the sound of the press and draw reeds.

 

I'm wondering though, in a case like this where the maker is unknown, whether the batch number and the serial number are the same thing. ie if only ten were made .

Maybe?

 

I've not been able to find any instruments with those extending points into the fret pattern (except a few non treble specials) rather than an inner circle. Maybe Stephen has seen something like this?

Nope, though I'm surprised nobody seems to have noticed/commented that it's in the shape of a (rather fanciful) heraldic shield. Most unusually, the design leaves no oval for a maker's label. :huh:

 

Hmm, seems to everyone including Stephen stumped?

Well, I guess we'll never know! The concertina wins!

I was too tired to write anything about this enigmatic instrument (along with everything else) last night, but maybe so. It's intriguing, but I wouldn't regard it as historically important and I'm not going to lose sleep over it... :rolleyes:

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A new speculation:

Perhaps the fringes were added sometime during 'the sixties'?

  • If the 1960's, then by some hippy concertina player in the folk revival.
  • If the 1860's, then by Buffalo Bill Cody, who later recycled the design in the fringed buckskins he wore in his Wild West Show.

;)

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A new speculation:

Perhaps the fringes were added sometime during 'the sixties'?

  • If the 1960's, then by some hippy concertina player in the folk revival.
  • If the 1860's, then by Buffalo Bill Cody, who later recycled the design in the fringed buckskins he wore in his Wild West Show.

;)

 

 

In that case, what were the fringe benefits? :unsure:

 

Chris

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In that case, what were the fringe benefits? :unsure:

Actually, it's a result of a misunderstanding. The owner of the concertina, concerned about leaks, told a respected concertina repairman that he was "losing his air." The repairer told him to try a comb over.

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