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Wheatstone C/G (Aeola) 40 Button Concertina


ben
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I have a 40 button Wheaststone C/G available...for sale. PM me if intersted.

 

 

I prefer selling off ebay. If a member of this forum buys this concertina then I will make the appropriate donation to C.net. PM me of interested.

Edited by Ben
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With all respect to Ben, as the seller, may I ask the board community to comment on the comparative quality of these 1957-era Wheatstone 40 button anglos?

 

Is this the anglo of my dreams, or was this era after their 'golden age?'

 

References to any other writings on the subject would also be welcomed!

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Sidesquueze

 

As with many things in life, the concepts of "the anglo of my dreams' and "the golden age" are quite subjective and I can only speak of my own experiences of a 1950's Wheatstone Aeola similar to Ben's, a 1926 Linota and a 1921 Linota, various Jeffries and a few Lachenals. Quality isn't really subjective (Quality simply means conformance to specification in my industry!), but it does depend what you're comparing it to.

 

The action configuration, production methods and materials are obviously different and all of these contribute to a very different feel and sound between the instruments. The action of a '50's box isn't as smooth and noiseless as a riveted action, but it's at least as good as a Lachenal, probably better since it will be bushed. The 1950's instruments do feel physically lighter, but I wouldn't say they're any less robust.

 

The 1950's instruments are undoubtedly less expensive; they were designed as more of a production line item and less of a hand craft (although there was a fair amount of production engineering in a 1920's box and a fair amount of handcraft in a 1950's box). I think it's been said that in the changes in ownership between the '20's and the '50's, the company was less bothered about quality and more bothered about cost of construction. I've had this on hearsay; I can't report it as fact but there may be documents on the site which give more definitive commentary from people who were there at the time.

 

The sound is also different becuse of the construction method, materials and configuration. The 1950's box is likely to have aluminium shoed reeds rather than brass; this contributes to the lightness and may also contribute to some of the tone and timbre difference.

 

I quite liked the 1950's box I had. I liked it for its lightness, its acceptable tone, its acceptable action and the fact that I could take it anywhere without worrying about it being a priceless antique. It didn't have any significant wear issues so maintenance was never a worry (but the older boxes had been well restored so that wasn't really a big issue for me).

 

But I didn't keep it (and I haven't kept the 1926 Linota either). Mine didn't have the character of an older instrument and certainly didn't have the punch of a Jeffries. My biggest issue was that it wasn't in G/D so wasn't getting used.

 

I hope I've been helpful, but equally, I hope I haven't answered your questions; unless you try it and your comparator (price, musicality, weight etc) instruments, you won't know whether its the right one for you and I've no idea what you dream about. Without referring to Ben's sale and his aspirations of value specifically, I'd say they're generally good for the price and often under-valued.

 

Alex West

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At one stage I had a lot of the 1950's Wheatstone anglos through my hands. I was living in Ireland at the time and I serviced these for someone who had contacts in South Africa where they could be bought at reasonable prices. The quality varied quite a bit and this may have been because the instruments were from all Post World War Two years. At the worst they not as good ( materials/ playability) as a medium quality Lachenal. At their best they were very nice but never as good as a pre-1930 model by a fair margin.

 

Many of these post war Wheatstone anglos coming back from South Africa were a product of the Government directive to British Industries at that time to " Export or Die"... very few people in Great Britain could afford to buy anything more than their dinner. Many products were simply not available other than for export... the country was that broke!

 

Having said that the concertina in question here looks to be of a much higher grade.. Bellows looks as if it is made of Leather.. which was not always the case at that period.. also the Case looks to be Leather covered like those of the Golden periods.

 

To hear the sound of a typical 1950's Wheatstone Anglo find the recording made by Chris Droney titled " The Flowing Tide" on the Topic Free Reed label.... which should be available from Neil Wayne... I'll look for the website address if you need it.

 

The only way to know if it is for you, as Alex says, is to try it.

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Here are video clips I posted a few years ago of 1950/1960's Wheatstsone concertina.....

 

the first one is of Manie Erasmus playing on a late 1960's 40 button Wheatstone C/G

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcmkm5MevI

the second clip is of Koot Brits playing on my 40 button Wheatstone C/G:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOYN0N_9TCI

 

 

Many of the 1950's and 1960's 40 button concertinas that I have come across play very well. I think that each concertina should be evaluated on a box by box case. I do prefer brass shoes or frames on my personal concertinas rather than the alluminum frames that were common in that era. I do own a 1926 Linota as well as a 1984 Steve Dickinson Wheatstone C/G 40 button and both have superior sound (in my own humble opinion).

 

 

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Sidesqueeze, I bought a similar instrument from Ben a few years ago and am continuing to find it very fine indeed (though circumstances--mostly a fourteen-month-old son and smallish living quarters--are reducing my practicing time). Cost-cutting did reduce Wheatstone's quality in the 1950s, but this is an Aeola--top of the line. I've had no problem with any increased noisiness from its action over the riveted action in my Morse Ceili (or an earlier Wheatstone, not that I've much experience with any such). Wheatstone kept the traditional dovetailed reedpan for Aeolas--I think only for Aeolas, though the better-informed will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong--although (as Ben and Alex mention above) with alumin(i)um shoes. This, as Alex also mentions, means that it's lighter than a concertina with brass-shod reeds: my 40-button Wheatstone, with its 80 reeds, is nearly as light as my (30-button) Morse Ceili, an instrument noted for its lightness (I haven't weighed either, but I don't notice any difference in switching from one to the other).

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I find it interesting these instruments are referred to in this thread as Aeolas, is this just a casual thing or are they marked as such? Aeolas are ECs whereas an octagonal anglo is just that, an octagonal anglo. The reason I make this point is the word Aeola carries a lovely aura of quality in every way whereas the only one of these octagonal instruments I have played, one out of South Africa, was decidedly poor. Perhaps by the 50s Wheatstone was capitalising on the brand. I accept quality was very variable in the later years and some instruments may be much better.

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Enough with trashing Ben's concertina. If you have tried his instrument, OK, but don't lump it in with others.

 

For full disclosure, I have a 40 button 8-sided Anglo GC Wheatstone made just one or two years before Ben's, and I would not trade it for any other instrument. ( or at least for only a very few instruments that cost at least twice what Ben is asking). I think $4000 would be a bargain for mine.

 

My only criticism is that the 40 button system is too convenient and easy to play. I may not be able to go back to a 30 button instrument.

 

These instruments are not common enough to justify making or accepting blanket statements. All the examples above are either hearsay or experience with only one instrument of this type. Not fair. If anyone does praise the 50s Aeola Anglo(I call it that because it has 8 sides), they usually bury the lead amongst or after statements of the negative quality of Wheatstone's production of this time. Something like "I had one of these. Everyone else says it is junk, or, I have read that is it junk. But I really liked mine" This is called leading and is not an unbiased way to describe something.

 

Also, the other poster who mentioned having a lot of 1950s Wheatstone anglos in his hands did not mention if they were 8 sided or not. I think these instruments get unfairly lumped in with the other instruments of poorer quality.

 

All in all, these instruments get a bad reputation based on hearsay or anecdotal evidence or prejudiced opinion. I honestly don't think enough have been on the market for many people to try. Maybe because their owners (like me) don't really want to sell them, so they don't get around much.

 

Whew!

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Chris, the instruments in question are examples of Model 7A, which appears on the price lists collected here from 1950 forward. The 1950 list mentions Aeolas (saying they're available with tortoiseshell or amboyna ends at extra cost) but doesn't specify which instruments they are. The 1955 list places has English, duets, that same mention of Aeolas and then Anglos, which does suggest that only English and duet concertinas may be Aeolas. The 1956 and 1965 lists, however, definitely use the Aeola name for Model 7A Anglos.

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Chris

 

The Horniman Ledgers only refer to instruments by model number so they're no help. The catalogues and pricelists available at www.concertina.com are a little more useful in the descriptions but can't be used to interpret the motives.

 

Unfortunately, the only ones there are from 1910 and 1947 onwards. In 1910, the Anglos are all referred to as Linotas, with the top model being a Type C. By 1920 (or thereabouts, from a pricelist which I've not seen myself), the top quality 40 key is a model number 62. There were some octagonal instruments around in the 1920s but these were definitely specials (for example the well known AG duet, number 30998).

 

By 1947 and through to the end, the model numbers were 1A - 6A with in 1956, a catalogue with illustrations offering the number 7A Professional model, octagonal "AEOLA" model.

 

As I've said above, the 1950s anglos have a number of features different to a 1920s instrument so they are clearly to different specifications of materials and workmanship (I'm not so familiar with English and Duet models).

 

I have heard it said that Wheatstone didn't regard anglos as serious instruments before 1900, and even after they started making them (date unknown to me) to cash in on the obviously high value Crabb/Jeffries sales, they didn't want to pollute the concert EC Aeola brand with the connotations of the busking anglo - however costly - hence the separate Linota brand. I've also heard it said that Wheatstone never used the best EC Aeola reeds and craftsmen on a type 62 anglo but I have no direct evidence for this or ability to compare like for like.

 

By the 1950s, perhaps marketing had taken over from pride so the Aeola brand could be used for any octagonal top of the range instrument?

 

Cynical, mercenary or just a practical reaction to a - at that time - dwindling market?

 

Alex West

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Thanks for the excellent history jdms and Alex.

 

Dave, I think you have only a slight point and had Sidesqueeze asked for advice in a separate thread then you wouldn't have that. I think everyone has been fair, 50s instruments are variable (actually they all are, 50s or not), they need to be assessed on an individual basis and Ben makes this point himself. No-one has referred to the particular instrument in derogatory terms as you suggest. I'm sure everyone wants it to be a beauty.

 

Thread drift... I have played and inspected an 8 sided Wheatstone 40 key instrument from 1923, in ebony and silver, a special order, as I remember it did not have a model number in the ledgers. It was one of a pair made for the same person, the other was an octo amboyna with gold keys in Bf/F. It cost a small fortune.

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Dave

 

I was trying very hard to avoid a direct comment about the concertina which Ben's selling. From the videos and from his description, it looks to be quite similar to the one I had which came from South Africa, was a couple of years earlier and was also brought up to excellent working condition by a top class maker (but not, I suspect Ben's). As I said, I liked mine and it had a typical Wheatstone sweet tone through all of the notes and a very even timbre, also typical of the Wheatstone radial reed pattern with none of the variability of an old Jeffries or Crabb. Some people like that even-ness and sweetness, some don't and it does depend on what style of music you prefer.

 

You make a good point that you wouldn't sell - except for an instrument which costs a lot more. That was exactly my situation - the model 7A simply wasn't the instrument of my dreams so I paid more to get one which was. If the instrument of your dreams is a top Wheatstone from the 1920s or a top Jeffries from somewhat earlier or one from the top modern makers, then I agree, you'll have to pay more.

 

I don't think it's fair to compare an EC Aeola of the 1910 - 1930 period with a 1950's Anglo Aeola. These are very different specification instruments with very different manufacture, different sounds and in most cases different purposes. It's like comparing a 1950s Jaguar with the 1990s Ford owned Jaguar. The badge may be the same but the car's a different article - and most likely used for a different purpose!

 

I don't know how variable Wheatstone's quality was in the 1950s but I'll bet that the model 7As are more consistent than the C Jeffries seem to be (for one thing, they're younger and unlikely to have had as much abuse over the years). I sold mine a couple of years ago in the UK for a good deal more than Ben is asking; I'm sure that if Ben's plays as well as mine, then his price looks attractive. However, if you're buying in the UK, then the addition of postage and import VAT brings it much closer to the price I got for mine.

 

Alex West

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