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bamfordata

Nickolds Concertina Or Fake?

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Hello

I am a new member and know absolutely nothing about concertinas!

However I have been left an old concertina (in leather case) which has 48 keys.

The oval maker's-mark says "Improved Concertina - Nickolds Bros - Woodbridge Street - Clerkenwell - London"

On the other side, stamped under the rose-wood? fret-work is the serial number "604".

It has green leather thumb straps (look original) fixed with narled brass fixings. White buttons are lettered, red buttons not. 2 rows of outer black buttons on each side.

The bellows looks remarkably well preserved! and are (were) white with a gold linked 'X' pattern - all edged with dark green. :( Cannot as yet show photo.

On my nil knowledge (research) does any expert out there (on the limited info given) know whether this is worth keeping and how much it might be worth?

 

regards

 

Brian

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The folks here will not only urge you to keep it, but to learn to play it! You've been warned! It is a fine, and fun addiction, however. If you share where you are geographically perhaps we can hook you up with a local member in person. Welcome aboard.

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Hello Brian,

 

From what you have said so far, it sounds like what you have is an English system concertina. The good news is that it most likely is by Nickolds, if it is labelled as such, and would appear to have quite an early serial number, it is probably about 150 years old. The bad news is that such instruments are probably of more interest to a collector (like myself) than a player, generally being considered to be of "beginner" quality today.

 

However, some photographs could reveal rather more !

 

I hope this is of some assistance.

 

Cheers,

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GOOD FOLKS: i'm afraid i must take issue with Stephen's last comment. . . . . . .why should a mid-19th-century instrument necessarily be of greater value/interest to a collector than to a player???. . . . .and what's "beginner's" about it (or am i missing something about this particular instrument?). . . . .there's a ton of good music out there -- the original victorian repertory for the instrument -- that's waiting to be played. . . . . .AND THAT'S PRECISLY THE KIND OF INSTRUMENT ON WHICH IT SHOULD BE PLAYED. . . . . . .

 

so dig into some Trollope, Mrs. Gaskell, and the delightful book by Anthony Pool, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England (New York: Touchstone, 1993), for inspiration. . . . . .and play away............doesn't matter what kind of music you prefer. . . . . .. . . . . .Allan

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i'm afraid i must take issue with Stephen's last comment. . . . . . .why should a mid-19th-century instrument necessarily be of greater value/interest to a collector than to a player???. . . . .and what's "beginner's" about it (or am i missing something about this particular instrument?). . . . .

Allan, I am not saying that none of them are any good, but they don't meet the needs of most of today's players. Indeed I think the opinion I expressed would be that of the majority of concertina players in the past 100 years or so, and more in line with that of most of the users of this forum, who (from their posts) tend to play either Irish or morris-dance music, be it in noisy pubs or out of doors. They are seeking both a volume of sound and a response that you just don't get with any mid-nineteenth century concertina. ("You wouldn't hear it behind a crumpled newspaper" is a dismissive verdict I have heard expressed in Ireland, on such instruments.)

 

On the other hand, though I am a great believer in, and lover of, the performance of classical music on "original instruments", why didn't Regondi, Blagrove or Case choose to play a Nickolds, or did you ever perform on one yourself ? (Or, for that matter, does anyone else on C.net choose to play one ?)

 

Unfortunately, on Monday (in Miltown Malbay) I tried to play quite the worst concertina that was ever put into my hands, and it was a Nickolds !

 

It would be very easy for Brian to spend more than the instrument is worth on having it restored, only to find that it doesn't live up to expectations when he gets it back. I think it only fair to warn him of that.

 

I have just paid $490 for a somewhat similar, unrestored, Keith, Prowse & Co. concertina, but I doubt if many players would want to pay as much for it even in fully restored condition (after maybe $500 had been spent on it !).

 

Edited for clarity.

 

Regards,

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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STEPHEN and FOLKS: as i mentioned, i have no idea about the playing- or non-playing condition of the instrument in question. . . . . .in fact, i've never played on a Nickolds. . . . .so i really can't say that they are or are not uniformly bad. . . . .

 

my point was really a general one. . . .and that is to express my wish that concertinists who have "old" instruments

 

(1) play on them, even if in the privacy of one's living room, and

 

(2) should at least take a peek at the victorian repertory. . . .(we all have our agendas, whether overt or covert)

 

i really had nothing more than that in mind. . . . . .obviously, an 1850s concertina of any type is not going to cut the mustard in repertories such as traditional music, music hall songs, etc..............and yet one wonders what someone like Alfred B. Sedgwick played when he began to appear in the music halls in the early 1850s. . . . .was his repertory drawn entirely from the "classics". . . .arrangements of and variations on popular opera arias of the day. . . . . .i don't know................

 

allan

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POSTSCRIPT: and the last thing i'm suggesting is that we try to play morris dances and hornpipes on a brass reed instrument from c. 1850. . . . . indeed, when i give a lecture/recital, i too switch to an early 20th-century instrument for "Dancing with Ma Baby" and the "Liverpool Hornpipe". . . . . . it would be ludicrous to do anything else. . . . . . . .allan

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i've never played on a Nickolds. . . . .so i really can't say that they are or are not uniformly bad. . . . .

I don't mean to say that they were all bad as such, but I have never heard of a serious player who chose to use one. But sadly, the owner of the anglo I was shown in Miltown Malbay had just spent £400 on a new bellows for his, and it was an absolute dog to play.

 

my point was really a general one. . . .and that is to express my wish that concertinists who have "old" instruments

 

(1) play on them, even if in the privacy of one's living room,

Perhaps what I really meant, when I described them as being of "beginner quality", was that for most players today they are more suited to practising at home than performing upon.

 

(2) should at least take a peek at the victorian repertory. . . .(we all have our agendas, whether overt or covert)

Absolutely, as long as they don't start by trying to play a virtuoso piece by Regondi on a decrepit brass-reeded instrument and get put off for life !

 

one wonders what someone like Alfred B. Sedgwick played when he began to appear in the music halls in the early 1850s. . . . .was his repertory drawn entirely from the "classics". . . .arrangements of and variations on popular opera arias of the day. . . . . .

The music halls of the early 1850's must have been quieter places than those of later years, certainly they were smaller, otherwise the likes of Sedgwick, and George Jones on his flutina or German concertina, would have had difficulty being heard. Then again, as music has got louder, people seem to have become less prepared to listen.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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The music halls of the early 1850's must have been quieter places than those of later years, certainly they were smaller, otherwise the likes of Sedgwick, and George Jones on his flutina or German concertina, would have had difficulty being heard.

I don't know about "earlier" or "later" years in the music hall, since both were before my time. I do know that if the audience is quiet, an unamplified "quiet" instrument (or voice) can be heard quite well in a hall with decent acoustics.

 

Then again, as music has got louder, people seem to have become less prepared to listen.

One of my pet peeves is concert venues -- especially cafés, pubs, and the like -- that play canned music before, after, and between the sets. It erases the distinction between the time for listening to music and the time for talking. People have to raise their voices to be heard over the canned music, and then during the performance they just continue. (I also think it's an insult to the performer, essentially saying, "We hired you to perform, but you're just not enough." Or if it's CD's of another group doing similar music: "Now for something by the pros we couldn't afford to get live." :()

 

But just as some cityfolk have lost touch with nature to the point where a silent night and starlit sky make them nervous, we're into a second generation of people who become anxious in the absence of background noise, whether it's music blaring in a bar, the TV chatting away as they do housework, or the CD player plugged into both ears as they stride across the moors.

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But just as some cityfolk have lost touch with nature to the point where a silent night and starlit sky make them nervous, we're into a second generation of people who become anxious in the absence of background noise, whether it's music blaring in a bar, the TV chatting away as they do housework, or the CD player plugged into both ears as they stride across the moors.

When a friend visited India some 20 years ago, he told me that people in the big cities there couldn't sleep without the sound of a transistor radio playing all night !

 

Personally, I love the silence and the starlit sky of Kilrush, where I am in the process of moving to.

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FOLKS: i noticed that different contributors have different "badges" beneath their names. . . . .and that these seem to be tied to the number of contributions that one has posted. . . . . . . thus Jim L. is a "heavyweight boxer" (biff bam). . . . . and closing in on 2000 postings. . . . .Stephen C. and Ken C. are "chatty concertinists" (ssssshhhhhh already). . . . . with fewer postings than any of them, I am an "advanced member". . . . . .and the person who started this whole thread had still another designation (with only one little blue box). . . . . .

 

does anyone know what all the categories are. . . . .and the number of postings that one has to accumulate to move from one rank to another. . . . . . . why don't those little boxes come in different colors. . . ..as do the belts that martial arts guys get.......................just wondering...............allan

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Then again, as music has got louder, people seem to have become less prepared to listen.

As a teacher of 15-year-olds, I can say "Amen" to that. A few of my students, after learning that I played, urged me to bring and demonstrate my concertina this past year, but I knew the majority would not be interested or willing to listen quietly (even though it is not a Nickolds) so it didn't happen.

 

does anyone know what all the categories are. . . . .and the number of postings that one has to accumulate to move from one rank to another. . . . . . . why don't those little boxes come in different colors. . . ..as do the belts that martial arts guys get.......................just wondering...............allan

 

Allan, this is (regrettably) something we can fool around with in the bbs software. It came with some original names that didn't suit folks (1-10 posts made you a beginner, but many of these people objected that they were not beginning concertinists). I was foolish enough to respond to this by attempting to come up with "better" titles -- I should have known better. ;) The same titles and "pip" shape and color have to be used for everyone IIRC. For folks who want their own, custom title and who want it to change with great frequency, remember that you can customize your signature and/or your avatar (the little picture). And you can change it as often as you want. Sorry, this is off thread!

 

BTW, has the original poster ever come back with a response to all our cerebral analysis? Or to tell us where he/she lives?

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Then again, as music has got louder, people seem to have become less prepared to listen.
As a teacher of 15-year-olds, I can say "Amen" to that. A few of my students, after learning that I played, urged me to bring and demonstrate my concertina this past year, but I knew the majority would not be interested or willing to listen quietly (even though it is not a Nickolds) so it didn't happen.

Ken, I'm sorry to hear that. I think you've done both yourself and your students a disservice, especially those who asked for you to play.

 

A full-blown concert is hardly necessary. You should bring in the box, play a tune or two, then decide whether to continue based on the reaction you get. Even if there's a strong negative reaction and you stop at that point, at least those who are interested will have gotten some idea of what it's about. And if there's a strong positive response, you could take that as an opportunity to arrange a small after-school gathering, to be attended only by those who wish to. (It could even attract some from outside your own classes.) Even those who don't like it would at least have had an experience which might stimulate them to think differently about things some years hence. (And though I can hardly guarantee it, some of the usual disruptors might even be surprised enough by something so radically outside their experience as to become curious and want to hear more.)

 

Maybe next year? :unsure:

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I was foolish enough to respond to this by attempting to come up with "better" titles -- I should have known better.  ;)

Yep. E.g., the German speakers and a different Jim would probably prefer "besser" titles. :P

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One of my pet peeves is concert venues -- especially cafés, pubs, and the like -- that play canned music before, after, and between the sets. It erases the distinction between the time for listening to music and the time for talking. People have to raise their voices to be heard over the canned music, and then during the performance they just continue. (I also think it's an insult to the performer, essentially saying, "We hired you to perform, but you're just not enough." Or if it's CD's of another group doing similar music: "Now for something by the pros we couldn't afford to get live." )

 

Excuse me if I am veering way off thread but the above is a real issue for me.

 

A performance needs space, both before and after. After listening to a performance one needs to sit back, contemplate and enjoy. To have some "cannned" belted out before the applause has even died away is an abomination.

 

And to pick up on the thread, in a way, why do accoustic instruments need amplification in a small venue with an audience of around 50? I've been told that performers on tour find it easier this way or perhaps its to give work to technicians and hence the bits between performances.

 

I'd appreciate some thoughts on the above, its an issue that often mars an evening's pleasure.

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And to pick up on the thread, in a way, why do accoustic instruments need amplification in a small venue with an audience of around 50? I've been told that performers on tour find it easier this way or perhaps its to give work to technicians and hence the bits between performances.

I've thought about this a bit. I usually play with people who try to avoid amplification. But many venues assume amplification will be needed, and those who haven't firmly decided not to use it are often railroaded into it. Other people use it as a crutch...they have quiet, wimpy voices with no projection, or tinkle away at their instruments at such an anemic volume that they can't be heard unless you're right next to them. Others use volume as a form of "artificial energy," as if being louder automatically makes the perfomance more powerful. Some people just seem to think amplification lends a "professional feel." Some bands don't have enough sensitivity and control to balance the relative volumes of their instruments without microphones. And sometimes the audience expects amplification and it gets foisted upon the performer. I was listening to some great acoustic guitar duet playing the other week, and there were mics, but just a bit of volume coming from the house speakers. It sounded wonderful, until some guy from the back of the room yelled "we can't hear you!", and the sound guys ran up and replaced the beautiful acoustic guitar sound with the sound of a cranked bar PA system. Yuk! The leader of one band I play in will often say, "well move closer then!" if someone complains they can't hear.

 

I wish people would think about amplification more...sure, sometimes it's needed, but sometimes a little is all you need. Maybe only one or two instruments need to be miked? For "folk music" certainly, amplification should be considered a "necessary evil," with the goal to use as little as possible. Maybe if there's not enough guitar in the mix, instead of turning up the guitar, try turning the rest of the instruments down a bit? For once?!? And bands could make more efforts to control their dynamics, and put their foot down and refuse amplification if they feel it's not needed.

 

I've always liked the band chatter on the Deep Purple "Live in Japan" album: one of the band members says to the sound man, "make everything louder than everything else."

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However I have been left an old concertina (in leather case) which has 48 keys.

The oval maker's-mark says "Improved Concertina - Nickolds Bros - Woodbridge Street - Clerkenwell - London"

Cannot as yet show photo.

Brian,

 

We seem to have drifted rather far from your question !

 

If you get a chance to post a photograph, we may be able to tell you more about your concertina ...

 

Cheers,

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