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JimLucas

William Wheatstone 1861 patent

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An instrument for sale on eBay was discussed in this Topic in the General Discussion subForum. My post in that thread was the first to identify what it probably was... the 48-key treble English described in William Wheatstone's 1861 patent, incorporating his various "improvements". Surely this is of historical importance, so I'm starting (continuing?) this thread here.

 

There was some further discussion in that thread, including mention of a duet concertina described in the patent, which I think would deserve its own topic in this History subForum.

 

The auction included some external photos of the instrument, which show unusual features (differing from "concertina standard"), but the only internal photo was of the top of one reed pan. For the curious and because the auction details may eventually disappear from eBay, I'll shortly be posting those photos in this thread.

 

Meanwhile, Neil Wayne -- who won the eBay auction, -- has asked me to post for him a few internal photos of the instrument, so I'm doing that here. They clearly show some of the "improvements" in the internal mechanism which are described and illustrated in WW's patent.

 

IMG_0363_d2.JPG

 

IMG_0364_d2.JPG

 

IMG_0367_d2.JPG

 

IMG_0368_d2.JPG

 

IMG_0370_d2.JPG

 

IMG_0371_d2.JPG

Edited by JimLucas

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Thank you very much for this post. This is highly interesting. It would be interesting to build a new concertina with this system.

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It would be interesting to build a new concertina with this system.

Interesting, but I think it's also much more complex (more different kinds of parts).

 

I also have some specific thoughts regarding specific details of WW's "improvements", but they're going to wait. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to others' comments.

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Hi

The pictures don't do it justice - it is beautifully made.

It can only be a 'prototype' or an instrument built for the patent as the potential for wear on the underside of the levers would give it a very short life - wooden levers rubbing across metal posts.

I would suppose that a 64 key may have existed and maybe the Duet version. I think historians must be happy that at least this one has survived in such good condition.

chris

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The auction included some external photos of the instrument, which show unusual features (differing from "concertina standard"), but the only internal photo was of the top of one reed pan. For the curious and because the auction details may eventually disappear from eBay, I'll shortly be posting those photos in this thread.

Did I say "shortly"? Well, sorry for the delay, but here are the first six of the 12 images from the auction.

 

(The forum software is limiting me to 10 images in this post, so I'm splitting the lot into two halves. I hope my next post will be able to show the other six, then in a couple more posts some additional photos provided by Neil.)

 

auction-01.jpg

 

auction-02.jpg

 

auction-03.jpg

 

auction-04.jpg

 

auction-05.jpg

 

auction-06.jpg

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Okay, here are the other six photos from the auction.

 

auction-07.jpg

 

auction-08.jpg

 

auction-09.jpg

 

auction-10.jpg

 

auction-11.jpg

 

auction-12.jpg

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And now for the first seven six of the additional photos from Neil.

 

Hmm. The photos were numbered, but number 01 was missing when I downloaded them from the Neil's email. If I can get him to send it again, I'll put it here, remove this message, and return the above count to "seven".

 

Neil-02.JPG

 

Neil-03.JPG

 

Neil-04.JPG

 

Neil-05.JPG

 

Neil-06.JPG

 

Neil-07.JPG

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And now the last six of the additional photos (so far) from Neil.

 

Neil-08.JPG

 

Neil-09.JPG

 

Neil-10.JPG

 

Neil-11.JPG

 

Neil-12.JPG

 

Neil-13.JPG

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It would be interesting to build a new concertina with this system.

Interesting, but I think it's also much more complex (more different kinds of parts).

 

I also have some specific thoughts regarding specific details of WW's "improvements", but they're going to wait. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to others' comments.

Hmm... no further comments from others, as yet.

Then again, I've only just posted the additional photos.

Would anyone else like to speculate as to 1) why this design didn't replace or at least take a place alongside its predecessor, which remains relatively unchanged even today, or 2) the likely consequences of the various new features -- either separately or together -- incorporated into this instrument?

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It would be interesting to build a new concertina with this system.

Interesting, but I think it's also much more complex (more different kinds of parts).

 

I also have some specific thoughts regarding specific details of WW's "improvements", but they're going to wait. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to others' comments.

Hmm... no further comments from others, as yet.

Then again, I've only just posted the additional photos.

Would anyone else like to speculate as to 1) why this design didn't replace or at least take a place alongside its predecessor, which remains relatively unchanged even today, or 2) the likely consequences of the various new features -- either separately or together -- incorporated into this instrument?

 

 

2 comments:

 

 

Only just noticed mixture of brass and steel reed shoes. How are the reeds attached on the steel shoes?

 

Tuning is going to be difficult with valves in place and you need to retune after replacing valves.

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I think that the steel reed is actually part of the steel frame (not sure how they made it - possibly some accurate milling? I'm sure some of our engineers will comment on this- Dave?). The reeds are attached to the brass frames by a rivet - as can be seen.

 

 

I think, as regards tuning - if the concertina had gone into production rather than been a 'prototype' for the Patent acquisition then they may have had to make a number of mods - not least being making levers out of metal ( wood pivoting on a brass fulcrum isn't going to last very long). Access for tuning may have been one of the mods they would have had to make.

 

I think this particular concertina has to be seen in its historic context, as a prototype for the patent and an experimental test bed (hence the 2 types of reed frames)

 

I suspect this didn't go into production because by 1861 people may have, already, got entrenched in the original design (if it ain't broke- don't fix it) - not an uncommon attitude to change even today!

 

It would be interesting if a 64 key and a Duet turned up - though just the one prototype may have been enough for the Patent acquisition process.

chris

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Jim, it seems that you are unable to receive PM's so I hope you don't mind me mentioning this.

The first picture in Posting number 5 shows a left reed pan in situ. This appears to be a standard reed pan with slide in reeds and does not agree with the actual arrangement as depicted in Posting number 7 picture 8.

Perhaps you included it for comparison purposes?

 

Regards

 

Geoff

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Jim, it seems that you are unable to receive PM's...

I should be able to. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the heads up.

 

The first picture in Posting number 5 shows a left reed pan in situ. This appears to be a standard reed pan with slide in reeds and does not agree with the actual arrangement as depicted in Posting number 7 picture 8.

Perhaps you included it for comparison purposes?

Well noted. No, I didn't include it for comparison; it's from the eBay auction page. (I just checked, and it's still there.)

 

If I remember correctly, the same seller had an auction for another concertina at the same time. I think it's possible that (s)he accidentally put that photo into the wrong auction. It certainly doesn't seem consistent with Neil's own photos of that side of a reed pan (in post #1 of this thread).

 

For the benefit of folks reading your post and this reply, I'll leave that "wrong" photo where it is for a few days, but then I'll replace it with a brief word of explanation.

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I suspect this didn't go into production because by 1861 people may have, already, got entrenched in the original design (if it ain't broke- don't fix it) - not an uncommon attitude to change even today!

 

chris

 

Something for EC players to try:

 

On the 1861 prototype, the thumbstraps and lowest keys are in practically the same positions as on a normal EC held back to front.

 

So, holding an EC back to front and twiddling the keys which are accessible would provide some idea of what the 1861 prototype would have been like to play. Remember to ignore the pinkie rest.

 

I would be interested to hear what you think.

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"held back to front."

It does give a similar balance which is what I think the 1861 design was intended to achieve, but I suspect that the players of the day had adapted to the original design - so it was probably to late.

Not sure about the reed/frame assembly (steel reeds) if it was cheaper to produce I could understand it but from a player's point of view - if a tongue broke it would mean the whole assembly would have to be replaced (high customer cost).

So - an interesting exercise in design and a beautifully made prototype, but............blink.gif

chris

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"held back to front."

It does give a similar balance which is what I think the 1861 design was intended to achieve, but I suspect that the players of the day had adapted to the original design - so it was probably to late.

And possibly irrelevant for those who play with the instrument resting on a leg?

 

Not sure about the reed/frame assembly (steel reeds) if it was cheaper to produce I could understand it but from a player's point of view - if a tongue broke it would mean the whole assembly would have to be replaced (high customer cost).

Some frames are steel with integrated reeds, others brass with riveted reeds. I'm guessing it's a feasibility study, and I suspect that the steel-integrated version would have lost out if the design as a whole had gone into production.

 

So - an interesting exercise in design and a beautifully made prototype, but............blink.gif

My simple reaction is that not only would construction of this design have been more complex than the "standard" design, it would have been a maintenance nightmare. What do our makers and restorers think?

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Would anyone else like to speculate as to 1) why this design didn't replace or at least take a place alongside its predecessor, which remains relatively unchanged even today, or 2) the likely consequences of the various new features -- either separately or together -- incorporated into this instrument?

As to question 1- it might be worth considering that William died in 1862?

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My simple reaction is that not only would construction of this design have been more complex than the "standard" design, it would have been a maintenance nightmare. What do our makers and restorers think?

 

Short and sweet I'm afraid and in agreement with your reaction Jim,

 

A total folly. Designed to shift the centre of gravity of an instrument but with no thought in regard to the cost of production, ease of assembly and intial adjustment (action) or ongoing maintenance.

 

I have reservations as to when the subject instrument was actually made. I don't really wish to expand on this at the moment until I have actually had a chance to examine it, hopefully next month. I will then proffer my thoughts.

 

I will however just mention that a rough count of the total left and right action parts (button top to pad) in the 1861 Patent is approx. 478 compared with the 384 parts of the 48 in the 1844 Patent. A difference of 94.

Patents can be viewed Here

 

Sorry this is short but I am dealing with several 'off line' enquiries at the moment . Apologies to those awaiting information and reading this, I will endevour to send answers asap.

 

Geoffrey

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