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Unusual, interesting concertina


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I can see screw holes where the finger rest used to live.

 

This is a rather weird beast - no finger rests either - and mushroom shaped coloured buttons - red possibly indicating C and blue F.

Do the patterns of the fretwork, bellows papers, or gold stamping look familiar to anyone?

 

I'm surprised that nobody else has mentioned the fact that the ovals for the labels are at the "wrong end" of the end (and canted) and that the weird buttons are all jammed up where the labels are normally found.

 

Weird enough in so many ways that I'm wondering if I should ask our ray-tracing graphics expert for an opinion. Instead, I'll ask, does anyone here live close enough to go take a look?

 

Scratch all that, and call the history buffs. The positioning of the buttons jogged my memory. A quick check reveals that the other features, which I had forgotten, go with it.

 

This appears to be the "improved" English from William Wheatstone's 1861 patent. (See particularly the figures on pages 17-18.) Of course, he must have made a prototype. I wonder if there are others, or if this is the only one.

 

I do hope whoever eventually gets it will let several English players try it out, to give their impressions of whether it really is an improvement.

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I can see screw holes where the finger rest used to live.

 

This is a rather weird beast - no finger rests either - and mushroom shaped coloured buttons - red possibly indicating C and blue F.

 

 

This appears to be the "improved" English from William Wheatstone's 1861 patent. (See particularly the figures on pages 17-18.) Of course, he must have made a prototype. I wonder if there are others, or if this is the only one.

 

I do hope whoever eventually gets it will let several English players try it out, to give their impressions of whether it really is an improvement.

 

A very interesting find that patent. I'm impressed that you found it. Having a look at the innards of the one on e-bay would be fascinating. The patent notes that this is a way to pack more reeds into a duet concertina, though obviously also for an EC with up to 64 buttons. Is Figure 29 in the patent a layout for a 54 button MacCann (not really since the patent is from 1861)?

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A very interesting find that patent. I'm impressed that you found it.

A whole portfolio of concertina related patents is listed here

 

Once you know that, it's not hard to find them :rolleyes:

Aye. It's not so much finding the patent, but knowing that there's a relevant patent to find... and knowing which one.

 

And in this instance I had an advantage, since in the past there have been discussions relating to the contents of that patent, and I was involved in those discussions.

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The patent notes that this is a way to pack more reeds into a duet concertina, though obviously also for an EC with up to 64 buttons. Is Figure 29 in the patent a layout for a 54 button MacCann (not really since the patent is from 1861)?

Take a closer look.

 

The Maccann layout is six buttons across. The layout in the patent is seven across.

 

One instrument using such a layout is known, but from a much later date. A paper about it can be found here. Obviously, that one wasn't built by William Wheatstone. I would think that he would have built at least one, though, as proof of concept. Will it ever turn up, or his 64-button English?

 

Until now, I would have thought that any and all examples of his patent models had been lost. But now it appears that we have one, the 48-button English. Are others still in hiding?

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In response to a PM for my comments regarding this topic.

Please excuse the exclusion of quotes, I am no computer buff just a simple easily baffled concertina maker.

 

Thanks Jim for reminding us of the Patent 2289. The concertina certainly appears to be an example of the English version depicted in Fig. 13, the fretwork pattern being identical. Also the dimension supplied by the seller indicates that it to be a Treble.

As the instruments were not intended to have finger plates, the screws and screw holes visible were used to secure and align the two halves of the end boxes when detached from the bellows assembly. Additional screws, located in the centre of the thumbstrap, between the buttons and above the label aperture served the same function. The latter screw also part securing the wrist/palm rest depicted in Fig 13 but missing in the instrument pictures.

 

The seven column keyboard of the Duet version shown in Fig 29 of the Patent. Please see the attachment for my thoughts on this.

 

Concerning the Patent, instruments etc.

In my opinion, purely as a maker, most of the improvements put forward by William Wheatstone in the Patent were unnecessary changes of design both in components and overall construction. I fail to see the employment of the changes bettering what was a simple, working design in use at the time and, in fact, still used today by some makers.

 

Some of the reasons for my opinion.

1. The additional time expended in making the extra or redesigned parts of the action, the remodelling of the reed pan and end boxes to include extra carcass pieces (see Fig. 33), the assembly of the individual parts and the final assembly and adjustments required to make ready for sale, must have demanded a considerable retail price.

2. The design of the 'direct valves' whilst in theory workable leaves doubts as to the effectiveness and longevity of operation in regular use. It would be interesting to examine the instrument should the occasion arise.

3. Examination of the lever springs in Figs, 15, 20, 26 and 31 (Patent 2289) shows that the necessary adjustment of some spring legs to align and contact with the levers must have compromised their effectiveness and made it difficult to attain a common button resistance over the keyboard.

4. The provision of reeds in the centre of the reed pan would result in a difference in timbre of those notes to those mounted from the edge. The practice is not ideal and especially should not used for the notes in the middle of the instrument range as in Fig. 20. Although it maybe common in some 40+ button Anglo instruments, if it is unavoidable, the notes 'inboard' should be those that are seldom used or are repeats.

 

The forward positioning of the keyboard and thumbstraps or hand rest and strap is perhaps cited in the Patent as the major 'improvement' (See Page 10 Line 11 to Page 11 Line 18) and the reason for all the other improvements.

Hear! Hear! some may say.

However, the statement within that section may not be necessarily correct. Moving the keyboard and the strap position by the same amount will not make any difference to the position of the fingers relative to the keyboard. Some very slight improvement to the balance of the instrument may be effected if it were possible in a contemporary instrument with bone/ivory buttons etc. However, in the instruments the subject of the Patent, the use of the complex metal buttons, the extra materials employed to stabilise them and possibly the extra weight of the extended portions of the long levers (countering the weight of the levers replaced by the 'direct valves') may shift the centre of gravity forward of the straps again and restore any imbalance.

 

The rare appearance of the instrument, the subject of this thread, suggests that it may have been, as Jim wonders, a final prototype. Of course I may be wrong but until others sightings are made, I doubt if any other English or any of the Duets were made.

Perhaps the cost or difficulty of making, the death of William Wheatsone in August 1862 or the lack of customer response halted further interest, if any, in the project by any successors.

 

All for now

 

Geoffrey

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Could someone post on the forum photos of the inside of the instrument ? The seller says he will send them to anyone requesting them, but it would perhaps be simpler to have them posted here, so he will not receive hundreds of requests from concertina-curious people...

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