Jump to content

Questions From The Wheatstone Ledgers


gcoover
 Share

Recommended Posts

Although this could easily fall into the "get a life" category, while looking up the Rev. Dwight Baldwin EC #19709 (see photos in the recent posting on concertinas in Hawaii), of course I got distracted and ended up finding several unusual postings in the Wheatstone ledgers. In particular, Ledger #C1054.

 

 

In the 1870's, several were listed as "metal bound", or "brass bound". Any idea what that is?

 

In 1873 and 1874, three were described as "old steel" (#18455, #18456, #19115). Some sort of old steel reeds maybe?

 

And starting in 1873 up until about 1882, there are several 56-button bass instruments listed, sometimes double action, and in 1884 #20307 was a "4-octave double action" bass. In 1885 #20344 was described as a "small bass" with 50 keys. I've got a 35-button Lachenal double bass that's fairly big, but how big were these 56-button basses? Anybody have one of these?

 

First Wheatstone Anglo concertina? - #19747, Oct. 1879, 30-buttons, steel reeds, polished ends. Oddly, this is the only Anglo listing in the entire ledger that I saw.

 

First Wheatstone Aeola? - #20994, Nov. 1889.

 

First Wheatstone concertina with metal ends? - #21121, Oct. 1890, "metal ends with valves".

 

 

Ok fellow historians, what say ye?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I will leave the answers to the proper people but, I did notice, whilst chasing something else in ledger C1054.

 

On page 159 (1871) , 18733 & 18735 appear to have been fitted with Vulcanite ends. I assume 'ends' as the word has been substituted for ebony in the 18733 entry. I have not come across this in later entries or seen one so perhaps these were experiments using this material.

 

Geoffrey

 

I now realise that Vulcanite was the former name for Ebonite. A later entry on the same page does include 'Ebonite' as do some later entries.

Edited by Geoffrey Crabb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the 1870's, several were listed as "metal bound", or "brass bound". Any idea what that is?

 

Probably "tropicalised" models with metal reinforcing plates around the corners, to bind the woodwork together whenever the tropical heat melted the glue.

 

First Wheatstone Anglo concertina? - #19747, Oct. 1879, 30-buttons, steel reeds, polished ends. Oddly, this is the only Anglo listing in the entire ledger that I saw.

 

I think I've seen a couple more in the 1870s, but that's all. Edward Chidley snr. objected strongly to the Anglo concertina (and said as much in an 1890's interview), and I was surprised to find they made any at all in his time, but his son (Edward Chidley jnr.) couldn't wait to make them after the "old man" died.

 

First Wheatstone Aeola? - #20994, Nov. 1889.

Quite possibly (I haven't got time to check, being in the middle of Willie Clancy Week here), but that would have been one of Edward Chidley snr's. hexagonal Aeolas, with "pencil frets" and a sweet sound, and again it was Edward jnr. who introduced the much louder octagonal Aeolas after his father's death.

 

I can hear it now:

 

Senior - "Over my dead body son!"

 

Junior - "OK dad!"

 

First Wheatstone concertina with metal ends? - #21121, Oct. 1890, "metal ends with valves".

 

I expect it had red pads, and (if it had "valves") it sounds like it might have been made for Harry Boyd...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I now realise that Vulcanite was the former name for Ebonite. A later entry on the same page does include 'Ebonite' as do some later entries.

 

It would have been much more stable, especially in extreme conditions, than the solid rosewood, or ebony, ends that Edward Chidley snr. more normally employed. Otherwise, laminated wood, such as Lachenal's used on their better models, was much stronger and more stable than solid timber.

 

Ebonite was popular for making more-stable woodwind instruments at the time too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ebonite was popular for making more-stable woodwind instruments at the time too.

 

We've got a beginner's clarinet made of ebonite (which means they are still being made) - not great, but the material (would prefer appropriate wood of course, if only for the feel) doesn't seem to be a downside to me...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And starting in 1873 up until about 1882, there are several 56-button bass instruments listed, sometimes double action, and in 1884 #20307 was a "4-octave double action" bass. In 1885 #20344 was described as a "small bass" with 50 keys. I've got a 35-button Lachenal double bass that's fairly big, but how big were these 56-button basses? Anybody have one of these?

 

 

I have a 56 key 'small bass' from this period. I am having a few very busy days, but I'll try to do some weighing and measuring at the end of the week.

 

Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A bit later than I had intended......

 

I have 'small bass' serial number 20496, one of a batch of 6 produced in March 1886. See http://www.horniman.info/WNCMARC/C1054/PAGES/CAP2240S.HTM

These are 56 key, single acting basses (notes only sound when pushing the bellows inwards). Their shape is an extended hexagon. As a result, their size can't just be measured 'across the flats'.

 

Here are some basic facts.

Weight: 3.105kg (6lb 13oz)

Width across the narrowest part of the hexagon: 18.8cm (7 ⅜ inches)

Height, tip to tip: 25cm (9 13/16 inches)

Length, bellows closed: 24 cm (9 ½ inches)

Length, bellows fully open: 52.5cm (20 ¾ inches)

 

The ends are unusually deep (9 1/2cm or 3 ¾ inches) as the reeds are in two layers.

 

The bellows have a set of 28 'gills' - valves which allow very quick refilling with air. This is needed as it is single acting.

 

I will attempt to post some photos. There is a 'reference' 15.9 cm (6 ½ inch) concertina in some of them to give an idea of scale.

 

This is not an instrument to play standing up! Even if the weight can be supported, the bellows are so long that they tend to drop downwards in the middle when opened, meaning that pressure can't be applied to make any sound. Even sitting down, it will tend to slide downwards if one's feet are lower than the chair: i resolve this problem with some flexible sheeting designed to stop things sliding around in drawers etc.

 

It is loud and amazingly fast responding. It is great fun to give it to an accomplished player who isn't used to single acting instruments and to hear them run into problems!

 

Steve

 

post-7219-0-02704900-1405242668_thumb.jpg

post-7219-0-01392900-1405242680_thumb.jpg

post-7219-0-39169500-1405242693_thumb.jpg

post-7219-0-15455400-1405242708_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve,

Wow! That's even bigger than the one Bernard Wrigley plays. (I hear a new song of his coming soon - "Mine's Bigger"). Looks to be in immaculate condition, thanks so much for sharing the photographs. Any thoughts on the double-stacking of the reeds and is there any appreciable difference in sound quality?

Gary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the boast in the title of his song is definitely true in this case.

 

From my memory of seeing him play (many years ago), and the picture at http://bernardwrigley.blogspot.co.uk/2007/06/instruments-guitars-etc-i-play-mainly.html, Bernard Wrigley's is actually a lot bigger.

 

It isn't a trick of the camera either: the Wheatstone Ledger entry for his describes it as a 29 key Contra Bass, and 11¼ inches. See the last entry at http://www.horniman.info/DKNSARC/SD01/PAGES/D1P1880S.HTM. I assume the 11¼ refers to the width across the narrowest part of the ends: mine is only 7⅜ inches. Being a Contra Bass, Bernard's will go lower than mine.

 

Mine wins comfortably on the number of notes, however: 56, compared to 29!

 

I would like to see the size of the reeds, given that there are only 29 in such a huge space.

 

I agree with Bernard's comment about the rhythmic bounce from constantly filling the bellows.

 

I am not aware of any difference in sound quality (or the responsiveness) resulting from the double-stacking of the reeds. I don't even know where the cross-over points are for each end (the biggest reeds are on the extra inner layer).

 

Steve

Edited by Lofty
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 years later...
On 7/7/2014 at 9:12 AM, gcoover said:

In the 1870's, several were listed as "metal bound", or "brass bound". Any idea what that is?

Hello I found the treble English concertina that at Wheatstone Ledgers. The ledger says "brass bound" and I didn't understand the meaning.

And I found a this post of "brass bound" Here.

I will post a picture of the instrument.

R0039951_e_c_1920.JPG

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, genepinefield said:

Hello I found the treble English concertina that at Wheatstone Ledgers. The ledger says "brass bound" and I didn't understand the meaning.

And I found a this post of "brass bound" Here.

I will post a picture of the instrument.

R0039951_e_c_1920.JPG

 

Yes, that's what I thought it would be like. Similarly tropicalised "campaign furniture" was made too, generally collapsible, or stacking, typically for army officers, missionaries and colonials.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
19 hours ago, fiddler2007 said:

Brass bound? Can it be brass plated reed framework maybe? Brass used there sounds quite different, more overtones ...

 

No, because brass reed-plates were standard and not something unusual, whilst "brass bound" was the normal term for furniture, boxes, etc. that were reinforced with brass.

 

 

 

 

Edited link

 

Edited by Stephen Chambers
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...