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DJPH72

Wheatstone number 6329

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Hi All

 

Have just aquired a Wheatstone number 6329. I've checked this against the online records and it looks like it was originally purchased by (what looks like to be) John or James Lowe in 1855. I've found quite a bit on the web for a fiddle player called Joseph Lowe (who's father was John) but at the moment I'm not convinced I've found any connection.

 

Before I start trawling through the 1851 census records for a very wealthy man (7 pounds seems to have been quite a lot in those days!), does this name ring any bells with anyone who has researched these records more extensively than I have?!

 

Thanks as always

 

Dave

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Dear Dave: though £7.0.0 might have been more than "pocket change" for the everyday working stiff, i'm not sure that Mr. Lowe necessarily had to be "very" wealthy. . . . .

 

is the Joseph Lowe that you mention one and the same as the composer-dancing master born in 1797 and died in 1866 and active in Scotland. . . . .his father was John. . .. also a composer-dancing master. . . .. .so that seems to turn around the names of John = son and Joseph = father

 

there's information about the above father-son in Brown and Stratton, BRITISH MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY. . ., 1897. . .reprint DaCapo Books 1971. . .and POSSIBLY available on Google Books these days. . . .not sure........Allan

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Thanks Allan - that's very helpful.

 

That's the Joseph Lowe I found - along with the book: A New Most Excellent Dancing Master : Joseph Lowe (Hardcover, 1992) ISBN 0945193300. I was hoping it could be him but looking more closely I think it more likely to be John/Johnathan. I think Joseph's father John would have died by 1855 (but haven't had the chance to properly check this out as yet..) Initially I thought £7 was a lot, but having read through your article on concertina.com there were many that were considerably more!

 

Will check out the publication you mention - and look forward to getting this one back in playing order!

 

Dave

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Dave: while there were many concertinas that went for more than £7. . . .that seems to have been among the most popular models. . . . .are you talking about the article dealing with women concertinists. . . .there's a table in there that shows the number of instruments sold at each price level and the percentage that that number formed.........Allan

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Dave, Allan,

 

Just some random thoughts on the early Victorian concertina market. Using the currency calculator at concertina.com, 7 pounds in 1855 is approximarely equivalent to 3414 pounds in 2000 money, or about US $5,440. While that may not sound too insurmountable a cost for an average guy today, remember that the middle class was still pretty small in Victorian England...about 20% (vs about 1% aristocracy and 79% working class), and salaries were low. And even if you were in the middle class--a shopkeeper, for instance--there was very little in the way of government safety nets in those days.....no health insurance, no pensions to speak of, no scholarship programs for your kids, no unemployment insurance if you lose your job. Unlikely that you would shell out that kind of money for a musical instrument. I would think that very few who were not either in the aristocracy or with some sort of new industrial wealth or a professional musician were buying English concertinas in 1855.

 

As a way of comparison, a factory-made German concertina could be had in the middle 1850s for about 5 shillings...about 122 pounds or $195 in year 2000 money. That was affordable by both middle and many in the working class.

 

Wheatstone still had the EC market more or less to themselves in the 1850s, and built only 700-800 instruments a year at that time. The Germans were likely already building in the low hundreds of thousands per year. By the 1870s, when I have some semi-hard numbers for both, German concertinas were outselling English concertinas about a hundred to one in England (and elsewhere).

 

Cheers,

Dan

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I've been looking at the Wheatstone ledgers from the Neil Wayne archive at the Horniman Museum (via concertina.com) and some of the purchasers are interesting eg Lord Newcastle, bet he wasn't going busking!

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Thanks for all the info folks!

 

In summary, within the Wheatstone price range of the time this was a mid price instrument (at best) - but if 7 pounds then was equivalent to 3000 pounds now it would clearly be out of reach of a lot of people (If I splashed out 3000 pounds on a concertina I would be in SERIOUS trouble with my wife...)

 

It's nowhere near playing how an instrument of that value should play (or even playing at all..), but I'm looking forward to seeing the end results after I've spent some time working on it!

 

Dave

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In summary, within the Wheatstone price range of the time this was a mid price instrument (at best) - but if 7 pounds then was equivalent to 3000 pounds now it would clearly be out of reach of a lot of people (If I splashed out 3000 pounds on a concertina I would be in SERIOUS trouble with my wife...)

On the other hand, folks in those days weren't laying out money for cars, televisions, computers, or many of the other things that are common today. I think that middle class individuals today even tend to have a larger collection (wider variety?) of personal clothing. And can anybody here tell us what percentage of a person's income in those days was spent on either food or housing? I remember that when I was a kid, there was supposedly a rule of thumb that housing -- whether rent or mortgage -- should cost about 10% of a person's income. More recently I've heard that that thumb has gotten longer, i.e., that the contemporary rule is 25%.

 

So maybe folks in those days had a larger fraction of their income available for the one-time purchase of a musical instrument?

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