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garyw

I Inherited A C. Jeffries 30 Key Concertina

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I just inherited a C. Jeffries concertina which was originally purchased by my great grandfather. After doing a little bit of research, I realize that this is one of the higher end, more desirable ones but that's where my knowledge ends. It's in it's original state, not restored and is stored in its original leather case. It does show some signs of wear but not bad at all for something that's probably 100 years old or so. It still plays and all the keys seem to work. I know photos will help with the answer to this question, but in general, is it worth it to have it restored before trying to sell it, or should I attempt it as is? What's the value (ballpark) for it restored, or in it's current condition?

 

Thanks in advance for your advice,

 

Gary

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Gary

 

The first, and I hope still the best, advice here is that with your history it's worth more to you than it will be to a later buyer so try to learn to play it yourself first. More or less whatever style of music you like can be played on your great grandfather's concertina and there are examples to convince you of that either lurking in previous posts here or on youtube somewhere.

 

As to value, to my opinion, unrestored high end instruments seem to sell for a higher price than restored instruments (if you take into account the unrestored instrument cost, logistics costs, proper restoration and tuning costs and sensible dealers' margins). Sale prices for instruments in the US seem to be lower than in the UK and Eire; I'm not too sure about mainland Europe. Although Australia and South Africa are also places where anglos are to be found, not many come up for sale in the usual channels so it's difficult to see trends.

 

With any auction (ebay or auction house), it depends very much who's there and the timing as to whether you get the top price or something less. Even though interntet search engines allow anyone to find an appropriate live or ebay auction for these instruments, the sale results don't give a completely consistent picture.

 

Which is a long way round for saying that if you want to know what yours might fetch, then take a look at some recent auctions through ebay or saleroom and go figure it out - that's what I would have to do! If you want to know what it will fetch, then put it up for sale.

 

But I do hope you'll try to learn to play it yourself or pass it on to another family member who'lll cherish it for both its intrinsic and family value

 

Alex West

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Another point to bear in mind is that you aren't an expert in commissioning concertina restorations, nor do you have the advantage of bulk purchase like a dealer who commissions many restorations. Also there are a number of important judgments to be made, especially with high end instruments, so it is better to leave it to the buyer to commission the restoration as they best would like it done. Detailed photos with the ends removed so the action and reeds can be examined is advised, so that people can judge for themselves the condition, especially if its condition is fairly good rather than fairly bad, because with poor info people will guess fairly bad.

 

Btw some instruments marked C Jeffries are (old) fakes because it has the reputation as being the most prestigious mark. So don't be offended if people seeing the photos are trying to assess if it is a real one.

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Regarding fake knockoffs, do you think fakes were made 100 years or so ago? It's been in the family that long, at my mother's house in a closet for at least 70 years.

 

Gary

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There have always been fakes. Also, various concertina craftsmen changed allegiance between manufacturers, took their designs with them, used old parts that were already stamped, and so on. That is human nature.

 

A concertina player can tell if it is a nice instrument, which is the main thing. An expert player or repairer can tell you if it is a genuine Jeffries and even date it more accurately.

 

As someone implied earlier it's potential value as an heirloom may exceed its cold cash value. However, an unplayed instrument is no good to anyone.

 

If you get it restored, there are various pitfalls, and you will be investing (that is, spending!) money that you may or may not recover when you sell it.

 

If you sell it "as is" then someone will almost certainly buy it thinking they have found a bargain that they can restore cheaply. When they find out how much it really costs to restore, that will be their problem.

 

At best restoration will be a few hours' tinkering, tuning reeds, and so on. At worst it could be a complete rebuild For example, is it in standard concert pitch? If not, it will need completely retuning.

 

Assuming it is in fair condition (no major damage or bits missing) it is worth a fair amount of money to someone, and it would be a tragedy for it to be lost to the world of concertina players. There are only so many Jeffries boxes about.

 

Good luck, whatever you decide.

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Guest mglamb

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Edited by mglamb

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I just inherited a C. Jeffries concertina which was originally purchased by my great grandfather. After doing a little bit of research, I realize that this is one of the higher end, more desirable ones but that's where my knowledge ends. It's in it's original state, not restored and is stored in its original leather case. It does show some signs of wear but not bad at all for something that's probably 100 years old or so. It still plays and all the keys seem to work. I know photos will help with the answer to this question, but in general, is it worth it to have it restored before trying to sell it, or should I attempt it as is? What's the value (ballpark) for it restored, or in it's current condition?

 

Without more information, the "ballpark" figure could easily vary by at least a factor of two, and maybe much more. Two important gross factors are how many buttons it has (30-32? 38-39? more?) and whether each button plays the same note on push and pull, or different notes... i.e., is it a duet or an anglo? Duets are less common, but also less in demand, so usually fetch lower prices. Other important factors are its home key(s) and whether it's tuned to modern concert pitch (A440), as well as how well it is in tune with itself.

 

As for restoring it before selling it, I'm among those who would recommend that you leave restoration to the buyer, who will likely be more knowledgeable than you about what "should" be done, and may even have strong personal preferences on details that could be reasonably decided in more than one way... e.g., whether to tune it in equal temperament or one of several other temperaments.

 

But where are you in Southern California? There are concertina.net members in both the Los Angeles and San Diego areas who should be able to help you determine and describe the various relevant details, even though a precise valuation isn't possible.

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Jim,

 

It actually has 32 keys, one on each side that's separate from the others. Also, it plays a different tone on push and pull. I'm in Orange County, CA. which is in between Los Angeles and San Diego.

 

Gary

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Hi Gary,

 

Unfortunately there is a possibility of fakes where Jeffries concertinas are concerned. There was a time in England when pawn shops there would only accept Jeffries concertinas, so there was an incentive to fake a Jeffries to pawn it. Then too, Jeffries concertinas bore a strong resemblance to Crabb concertinas and the accepted wisdom is that Crabb made some of the early Jeffries concertinas, and it is this family similarity that made it relatively easy to attempt a forgery. That being said, the forgeries involved stamping the Jeffries name on the ends -- with various levels of sophistication -- and there are ways to separate true Jeffries from the pretenders. Very possibly, just a few pics posted here would help us advise you as to the originality of your instrument. Another factor not mentioned is the pitch of the instrument. If it is in modern C/G tuning you would likely find more potential buyers than if it is in one of the flat pitches -- and the price will adjust accordingly.

 

The advice to check out recent auction results on-line are a good first step and careful inspection by a qualified repairman is an even better way to know what you've got and can help with the assessment of value. Since you are here in the states, the best qualified concertina repairman I know is Greg Jowaisas. Within the past year he has helped me find an unmolested Jeffries and done the restoration work with marvelous results, and he's worked on a number of Jeffries for me and others and is very knowledgeable on these instruments. If you would like his contact information, just contact me through the forum's message system or e-mail me at rpsqueezer (AT) gmail.com.

 

One other thing to keep in mind is that the concertina sales market has been weak recently and so selling prices are lower now than they have been in times past. Instruments that would have been snapped up quickly off eBay 12 months ago are now languishing with nary a bid. So you can't count your cash until you actually find a buyer. But talk with Greg and he can give you a better feel for what your concertina might bring -- but, like us, he will need to see pictures or even better, inspect the concertina in person.

 

Ross Schlabach

Edited by RP3

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A good option is to contact the pro's. It would mean that you would have to pay shipping costs, but that may be better than "taking a stab in the dark" with an instrument at this value level.

 

Concertina Connection are in Washington State, and I have found them to be very helpful. Button Box advertise appraisals on their web site. Or as Ross suggested contact Greg.

 

But if you have a musical bone or two, have a go at learning to play - great grampa might like that, and who knows - maybe you'll get hooked like so many of us here.

 

Doug

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Here are some pictures I just took.

 

Gary

post-10621-0-78726000-1367436239_thumb.jpg

post-10621-0-82172600-1367436240_thumb.jpg

post-10621-0-82827700-1367436241_thumb.jpg

post-10621-0-87728000-1367436242_thumb.jpg

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Hey Gary there are some knowledgeble concertina players in the Southern California area.

Take your Jeffries to one of the local sessions, I'm sure you can get informed opinions.

Notable sessions are in San Diego, Long Beach, and the Toluca Lake area of LA.

Congratulations!

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For example, is it in standard concert pitch? If not, it will need completely retuning.

 

 

Well maybe not. Some potential buyers will place a premium on having a concertina in its original tuning. Most were not originally in equal temperament for example, and some players prefer the old tunings. Since your instrument has a long history in your family there is a good chance it has not been interfered with.

 

Another selling route is to place it with a good dealer to sell on consignment. In the USA the best of the larger business that deal in concertinas are The Button Box, and Concertina Connection both of these have in depth knowledge of concertinas.

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Gary,

 

I live very near you and would be happy to look at it.

 

I'll send contact info in a private post.

 

Ken

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Gary,

Everything about your photos looks genuine, and its date would be around 1885, give or take around roughly 10 years.

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Gary,

 

get it insured. contact the button box ask for Jon or Doug, tell them what you have, refer them to your photos,they will be able to advise on a ball park value.

 

Dave

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Thank you both Dave, Wes and the others that have taken the time to respond and provide me with valuable information. I will definitely take your advise and insure it and have already called the button box. They were also helpful. The next step is figuring out what condition it is in and deciding whether or not to restore it or sell it as is.

 

Gary

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Gary brought his Jeffries over to my house tonight.

 

I'm not going to claim to be an expert, but I've played about a dozen Jeffries anglos and this one is the real deal.

 

It seems to be a Bb/F but the reeds are scattered around so that I couldn't find a scale. On each side, some of the high buttons have low notes and some of the low have high notes. A few buttons don't sound. I was unwilling to open it up.

 

The bellows are original and they are fantastic. The soft leather pulls and pushes better than any I've ever played - just amazing quality. And the bellows papers are right too, beautiful detail with some even wear and, well, grime on them.

 

The instrument is quite leaky, but it is probably from multiple places like valves and dried out gaskets.

 

The tone wasn't the Jeffries "honk" I was expecting, but it does sound like steel reeds and brass shoes.

 

The metal buttons are small and the action could be very fast. I was disconcerted by not being able to play a tune on it!

 

The case is smooth dark leather, and seems to be the same age as the instrument.

 

I'd say this is the real thing, and it was a joy to examine it and play it, to the extent that it let me!

 

Gary, I enjoyed meeting you and your wife. Congratulations on your good fortune, there are many folks who would consider this their "grail."

 

Ken

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