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Strange and wondrous beast


malcolmbebb
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It probably serves me right. I was looking for a cheap doer-upper on Ebay to practice on, something that wouldn't matter if I b*ggered it up, and this seemed to fit the bill:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190472961495&ssPageName=ADME:B:EOIBSA:GB:1123

 

Looks at first glance like a 20 key Anglo. Seller didn't know much about it... It arrived today...

 

The blessed thing has no less than six banks of reeds in each end. Each key (20) operates one treble reed and a pair of bass reeds, with left hand end reeds bigger than their right hand end equivalents (as you might expect).

 

The reeds are operated by long wooden levers (buttons are rounded pieces of wood, painted black) and the original springs are brass or a cuprous metal. It has pallets like a melodeon, and it's big - 8.5 ins across the flats. The reeds are all brass. The biggest reed is about 55mm x 5mm.

 

It came from New Zealand (previous owner bought it from NZ) and has a name stamped in each end -

L. A. Morritt

2 Hardwicke street

Sumner

Christchurch 8

 

So anyone got any ideas?

 

For completeness the bellows are tatty but look serviceable. The box has had a number of repairs. Every visible valve (all leather) is curled. Some have been replaced with different leather. The reeds are 5 pairs to a plate, the plate material is a dull grey metal. It isn't playable enough to learn much more.

Edited by malcolmbee
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COMMENT:

Your description of the levers, springs, and buttons suggests chemnitzer/bandoneon style methods

Multiple reeds also suggests such.

A photo of the action board levers and the "connections" (slots and sleeves, balls, and pins) of the buttons to the levers might be useful.

The buttons sound like those characteristic of a chemnitzer or bandoneon without the usual plastic and mother-of-pearl covers.

CURIOSITY:

Are the reeds tuned dry or wet?

Given no indication otherwise, I'm assuming it is bisonoric.

Is the keyboard layout consistent with any typical layout?

What is the scope of tones?

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It is a German concertina, sometimes (incorrectly) called an anglo. The anglo uses the same note layout as the German, but with action and reeds built in the English manner, hence the name "Anglo-German" often abbreviated to just Anglo. The pictures on the ebay listing show the typical German long zinc reedplates with brass tongues. Three sets of reeds is unusual, even for German concertinas. One or two sets is more usual.

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Thanks guys. I will try to organise some photos tomorrow. There is some handwriting in the box, but it's hard to read.

Are there any clues to dating a box of this type?

 

I haven't been able to play it - there is a number of screws missing and the bellows gasket is non-existent. I need to do some woodwork repairs before I can even try what's there.

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Are there any clues to dating a box of this type?

Best bet is probably to ask Stephen Chambers if he doesn't chime in on the thread on his own. I'd guess 1870 to 1890, but this isn't really my area of expertise...

Edited by Daniel Hersh
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Ok, here goes my year's supply of disk space:

 

Action board with broken lever and safety pin repair

Overview of bass reeds. The curly things are valves :-)

Closeup. Two types of leather, guess black is a fix. The grey stuff looks like zinc paint. Would there be wax underneath it?

Bellows. Papers are grubby - is there a way to clean them?

Keys (stamped with numbers 1-10), normal concertina alongside for comparison.

 

There is a number 133 in European script pencilled inside, plus some characters I can't read.

post-8844-0-67738200-1291504103_thumb.jpg post-8844-0-77483200-1291504132_thumb.jpg post-8844-0-45167400-1291504153_thumb.jpg post-8844-0-84555500-1291504176_thumb.jpg post-8844-0-78745400-1291504198_thumb.jpg

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Are there any clues to dating a box of this type?

Best bet is probably to ask Stephen Chambers if he doesn't chime in on the thread on his own. I'd guess 1870 to 1890, but this isn't really my area of expertise...

 

The levers look better than in many other german boxes, but I wonder if that tells something more about the age. I would gamble about 1890/1910. If anyone would say 1868 I could believe that, but also 1932 could be accepted as birth date.

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Not so strange really, German 20-key concertinas were pretty much always available in 1, 2 or 3-voice options, and this is a 3-voice one. They aren't so common as they cost more money...

 

Stephen,

 

When there are 3 voices in this kind of model / is it always with one low voice and two trebles like in this box (which may be good for Morris and French)? Or are there also 3 voice concertinas like this model where all 3 reeds have the same pitch? I have never come across the latter but it could be interesting for Irish if the three reeds are tuned flat.

 

Marien

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Having had a further look at the reeds, it appears that all three reeds for a given button are noticeably different sizes.

Would it be fair to expect tuning in octaves?

 

The smallest looks relatively a lot smaller than the bigger two. The pattern appears to be one treble and two bass. I only have one end removed (that's how it came, the screws are missing!) but the other end looks similar.

 

Separate observation - all the reeds that I've looked at are rectangular, no tapers.

Edited by malcolmbee
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Having had a further look at the reeds, it appears that all three reeds for a given button are noticeably different sizes.

Would it be fair to expect tuning in octaves?

 

The smallest looks relatively a lot smaller than the bigger two. The pattern appears to be one treble and two bass. I only have one end removed (that's how it came, the screws are missing!) but the other end looks similar.

 

Separate observation - all the reeds that I've looked at are rectangular, no tapers.

 

Yes, the reeds of different sizes indicate it was tuned in octaves.

 

This is not all that uncommon an instrument for its time (except perhaps for the 3 voices, as Stephen pointed out). German concertinas were far more common than Anglo-German ones, perhaps by a factor of a hundred or so. They are uncommon today because they were thrown away when used up, which happened quickly. I have one in even worse shape than your find.

 

Yours, although not of much sale value, is nice because of the New Zealand connection. Despite a strong history there during colonial times, there seem to be few players today, and I wonder if anyone has collected many such items in that country. Somehow, I doubt it. Not to recommend anything, mind you, but if that were mine I wouldn't do any extensive changes to make it play, as it won't be much of a player anyway. Again if it were mine, I would consider donating it to a museum in New Zealand--but only if they wanted and appreciated it. Just sayin'!

 

Cheers,

Dan

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