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Spinningwoman

1855 Wheatstone Under The Christmas Tree!

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I can't resist posting a bit about this although I won't get my hands on it until Christmas Day. I had intended to take things slowly looking for an upgrade to the Scarlatti English I have been learning on, but my husband was stuck for present ideas and this one came up locally so we went to have a look and bought it. It is a Wheatstone 4 fold bellows with brass reeds and bone buttons, marked with the note letters. It has been restored and played regularly by someone who has now bought a better instrument. There is no gauze under the fretwork so I can see that the pads are all neat and new looking. I tested every note against a tuner on my ipad and they are all good to concert pitch. There is no air button. It has a very sweet sound, not loud which to be honest suits me at the moment as I am practicing and playing for Myself, not performing.

The serial number looks as if the restorer stamped it on a piece of the leather used for the pads, so perhaps the original was lost? It looks consistent with the nearest example in the Horniman archive.

 

Its main fault is that the bellows are original, not appear patched at least on the outside, smell a bit musty and though I wasn't able to track a specific leak, they are not perfectly tight, though definitly playable. However, if that turns out not to be fixable I wouldn't mind having them replaced, maybe with a 5-fold as the lower notes seem to use quite a lot of air. That may be partly technique, though, as the Scarlatti takes quite a strenuous pump to play, whereas this one speaks at the slightest whisper of air by comparison.

Edited by Spinningwoman

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If you haven't got it already I recommend Dave Elliott's book The Concertina Manual, for those odd times when you get strange sounds etc. Also may help with your bellows issue

Have fun with your Christmas pressie

Edited by chris

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What a lovely Christmas present to look forward to (Santa: take note!)!

 

It may be that the airloss is down to some internal leakages rather than the bellows (although bellows are the more likely). Certainly later concertinas by Lachenal are prown to shrinkage of reed pans/action boards, then there are the various seals that could shrink and warp over time. All are fixable. Dave Elliott's book is well worth having in its own right.

 

Good to know that it is playable now (if a little wheezy) - the can be lovely concertinas - hope you are 'very happy together'.

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Thanks, I do have Dave's book. I thought I was going to have to dismantle the Scarlatti to stop buttons from sticking, but sorted it out with a little gentle persuasion instead

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I love my new-to-me concertina! I thought I would find it difficult at first to switch but I was soon playing the carols I had learned on the Scarlatti and some Folk songs from another Christmas present, William Coles' book, and I'm pleased to say that the musty smell from the bellows is much reduced already. The serial no is 7481 - looking it up on the list gives a date of 1855 - is there any other information around about instruments from that date, like names of craftsmen etc?

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What a lovely Christmas present! :)

 

I can't say that I was ever given a concertina for Christmas (hint), though I did get a Lachenal Edeophone for my 21st birthday.

 

 

The serial no is 7481 - looking it up on the list gives a date of 1855 - is there any other information around about instruments from that date, like names of craftsmen etc?

 

I'd need to see the fretwork of your instrument to confirm this, but it was most likely made for Wheatstone's by Louis Lachenal who was then running a manufactury on their behalf in Chiswick (West London), near to Charles Wheatstone's house.

 

You can read about that in my article Some Notes on Lachenal Concertina Production and Serial Numbers and about the background to Lachenal's involvement in Louis Lachenal: “Engineer and Concertina Manufacturer” (Part 1)

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Might that explain why I don't seem to be able to find more than one or two numbers in the 74nn range in the 1855/56 ledgers?

 

In fact (as I've just found) most of the 74xx series numbers appear between October 1858 and May 1859 in C1051, but I still haven't managed to find #7481 listed.

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Thanks for that, Stephen - I think I've looked through them all now and frustratingly found 7480 and 7483 but no 7481! I'm mildly surprised no-one has done an index by number - it wouldn't take a whole lot more time than looking through them al, and could be built up page by page. Maybe a joint effort?

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Here's a picture of the fretwork, btw

 

Thanks, the fretwork confirms that it was indeed made by Louis Lachenal, having been cut out by machine (a pattern-following spindle-cutter) rather than by hand with a fretsaw, and (being of his simpler design) shows that the instrument was one of his less-expensive models - though still beautifully made and exquisitely engineered. It could also have "riveted-reeds" too - you may well find that the reed tongues are attached to their frames with a large-headed steel rivet, rather than being "double-screwed" with a brass nut.

 

These were an absolute "bargain" when they were new, and still are today.

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Would it originally have had a fabric screen under the fretwork? I quite like being able to see the pads working, but other concertinas I have seen have had a gauze screen, presumable to keep dust and worse out.

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I'm mildly surprised no-one has done an index by number - it wouldn't take a whole lot more time than looking through them al, and could be built up page by page.

I'm mildly surprised that you haven't found this http://www.concertina.com/ledgers/indexes/index.htm or if you have a Windows PC this: http://www.concertinas.org.uk/ledgers.htm ,as they've both been around for a good few years :D

 

Edit:

Serial 7477;C1051 page 062: 05 Feb 1859

Serial 7478 not found

Serial 7479 not found

Serial 7480;C1051 page 065: 03 Mar 1859

Serial 7481 not found

Serial 7482;C1051 page 070: 18 Apr 1859

Serial 7483;C1051 page 066: 15 Mar 1859

Serial 7484;C1051 page 067: 17 Mar 1859

 

Edited by wes williams

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Ah! Well, I'm very new on the scene, and the references I found on this forum all referred to people searching through the ledgers, so I assumed no-one had got round to indexing them. Anyway, I'm glad to have it confirmed that I didn't just have my eyes crossed and it really isn't there. They were interesting to look through, anyway - interesting to see the annual servants wage listed in the almanac used as a production ledger was 2guineas - even considering that that would be with 'all found' it still puts the instrument prices in perspective.

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Wes, I've been finding all sorts of problems viewing the ledgers online recently, with things not working for me, and when I look at C1051 it isn't in proper/full serial number order at all, but in multiple serially-numbered squences - could it be anything to do with not using Internet Explorer these days I wonder?

 

For that matter, I hadn't seen your Wheatstone Ledger Related Software before either. Then again, I'm well-used to working off an old set of photocopies... :unsure:

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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Stephen

I don't use the online ledgers as I have a copy on my PC. But I visited the site (using the Firefox browser) and C1051 seemed to be unchanged from what it was. Try clicking the refresh button/symbol on your browser - its possible that you've got a copy of some pages in your browser's cache that have got corrupted.

 

The ledger software was written for investigating the 'range lines' in early Wheatstone production (see http://www.concertina.com/williams/serial-number-muddle/index.htm ) back in 2005, as well as having a quick lookup for any serial - although I could have made mistakes transcribing the ledgers into the database, so don't expect it to be 100% correct. The indexes on Bob Gaskins' concertina.com site came from the same database. Perhaps this was before you got online, so I'm sorry you didn't get to know about it.

Edited by wes williams

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Stephen

I don't use the online ledgers as I have a copy on my PC. But I visited the site (using the Firefox browser) and C1051 seemed to be unchanged from what it was. Try clicking the refresh button/symbol on your browser - its possible that you've got a copy of some pages in your browser's cache that have got corrupted.

 

Wes,

 

At home I have them on disc, as well as my well-thumbed photocopies (I used to borrow one and take it to the local photocopy shop whenever I visited Harry Minting) but I'm often elsewhere when I need to look a number up and then I do it online.

 

I too am using Firefox, on a new laptop that has nothing cached, and other Serial Number Indexes on concertina.com are displaying correctly (in full serial number order) for me, but not C1051 which (I now realise) is showing the serial numbers (in sequence but) in page number order.

 

I've also been finding that there are problems using the Horniman Museum website.

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