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Theo

Schuster & Co "english" Concertina

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A friend has asked me to evaluate a concertina with a view to returning it to playable condition to prepare it for sale. He is selling it for the widow of a friend who owned it.

 

It is a 48-button English system but from the makers name plate appears to be made in Germany. It has nickel or nickel plated buttons, veneered fretworked ends which are not bushed. It has 6-fold bellows in reasonable condition. It has lachenal type action, and a typical English makers type of reedpan with individual reeds fitted into individual slots. The reeds are steel in brass shoes, but look crudely made in comparison to English-made reeds.

 

This is clearly an entry-level instrument as far as playability goes, but does it have any historical interest, and is it worth repairing?

 

 

Theo

post-5-1090167350.jpg

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Name plate

 

 

The nameplate reads:

 

SCHUSTER & Co

SCHUTZ MARKE

MARKENEUKIRCHEN

post-5-1090167449.jpg

Edited by Theo

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Picture of bellows

post-5-1090167625.jpg

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Theo,

 

It looks too well made to be German! Perhaps it was imported, or made from English components? Most of the visible construction looks English to me, rather than anything I've ever seen from Germany.

 

The German label reads:

SCHUSTER & Co

Trade Mark

MARKENEUKIRCHEN (a town)

 

and according to Maria Dunkel they are first recorded there in 1867, as Schuster Brothers.

 

Sorry its so brief!

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English concertinas were manufactured in both Germany & Austria-Hungary, from the mid 19th century into the 20th century, under the name "melophon" or "melofon" (which they had been called in those countries since the time of Regondi's 1840/1 tour there).

 

This appears to be one of those concertinas, and by coincidence there appears to be another very similar one on eBay at the moment, both with the same early-Wheatstone derived fretwork.

 

I have no idea how well it might, or might not, play, but it may be of more interest to a collector than a player.

 

By the way, Markneukirchen is a lovely old town in Saxony, only a few miles from Klingenthal. It is famous both for the manufacture of musical instruments, especially stringed ones, and for the merchants in musical instruments who used to live there. The home of one of the latter has been turned into a Musical Instrument Museum which is well worth a visit, though they prefer to take people around in groups. Fortunately they didn't have an English-speaking guide when I visited about 3 years ago, so I was able to take my time.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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and according to Maria Dunkel they are first recorded there in 1867, as Schuster Brothers.

.. but a little more has come to light via Lyndesay Langwill, the Wind Instrument Expert. He lists lots of Schusters in Markneukirchen, but the relevant two entries are :

 

Ludwig Schuster (1827- 1891) founded business 1851, later becoming Schuster & Co. Mark: a crown. Exhibited Brass at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.

 

Schuster & Co; An important firm of woodwind and brass makers. Founded in 1862 and still active (1977) at Schützenstrasse 27 (street address).

 

Most of the visible construction looks English to me, rather than anything I've ever seen from Germany.

How wrong can I be? Thanks, Stephen!

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It does look very English doesn't it? What you cant really tell from the pictures is that the materials and construction are generally much poorer quality. Eg the ends are plywood, the finish on the fretwork is crude, thought the pattern is nice. The valves are made of very flimsy leather etc.

 

I would guess it comes from the GDR era.

 

Theo

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the finish on the fretwork is crude, thought the pattern is nice.

The pattern should be nice, it has been "borrowed" from that used by Wheatstone's in the 1830's/40's.

 

I would guess it comes from the GDR era.

Oh, I think it much too good for the GDR era, just about the height of East German concertina building in those years was the 20-key "Scholer" !

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Oh, I think it much too good for the GDR era, just about the height of East German concertina building in those years was the 20-key "Scholer" !

 

so could you hazard a guess at the age?

 

Theo

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so could you hazard a guess at the age?

Theo,

 

Well I don't have any solid information on that, and I haven't handled the instrument, which I find can be a big help in getting a "feel" for how old something is, but I would hazard a guess that it may be early 20th century.

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Today I received a CD, in the post, of pages from old German catalogues showing accordions, bandonions and concertinas (thanks Daniel!), and it has two very interesting pages of English concertinas.

 

The earlier one, for Schuster & Co. lists the German made English concertinas that are the subject of this thread:

 

155KONZERTINAS23.jpg

 

Available with brass or steel reeds, mahogany or rosewood ends.

 

But the later one, from around 1930, for Gebruder Schuster lists a Lachenal instrument:

 

2354.jpg

 

And I was offered three concertinas by a piper in Miltown Malbay, which I bought, one of which was an example of these German-made Englishes: The first one I've ever had.

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This looks a very similar design (albeit in mahogany [?] rather than ebony veneer) to an English concertina that I sold on a year ago; NB "Oscar Zeuner, Leipzig" stamps.

 

 

 

 

Cheers,

 

Neil

 

 

 

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