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Lachenal & Co, Anglo, 20 Key - Antique Or Instrument?


wdmcjrd
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New to this forum, and to concertinas. Thanks for letting me post.

I have a 20+1 Key Lachenal & Co., Anglo (Serial #93670). Based on the kind research of many others, it appears this concertina was manufactured sometime between 1885 to 1890. As you can see from the attached photos, the concertina was originally rebranded for "E.J. Ward Music Warehouse" of Liverpool. What research I have done over the past several weeks on this concertina led me to the following webpage:

http://www.concertinamuseum.com/CM00916a.htm

With the exception of cited model having a serial No. #78618, and the fact the it appears to have been refurbished. My concertina appears to be very similar in terms of style (at least outward appearance), branding (E.J. Ward) and general condition.

So my question to this forum involves whether this concertina would be more valued as a:

  • Antique / Conversation piece: (e.g. a little polish and dusting, but leave the broken straps and "beauty marks"). I would imagine that left outside of its carrying case, it would be subject to greater deterioration. Kept inside the case its not much to look at. Or,
  • Restoring it for every day use (for me, sell it for others to restore): From what I have read Lachenal made many quality instruments. Is tone and/or quality of this 20+1 Key model, worth restoring for every day use?

I believe some antiques are more valuable being restored and used, rather than simply preserved. I am just trying to figure out where this concertina falls in that equation.

 

For those that my be interested in its origins, this concertina traces back to my Great Grandmother house in Denver, CO, in 1973. I suspect that it actually traces back with her, and her two younger brothers. All of whom were born in Liverpool between 1880 and 1890. All three eventually relocated to the USA. While its reasonable to believe that Liverpool is where/when my family acquired the concertina, I cannot document it. So while there is some recent history with my family, none of my direct family ever played it. It has been sitting, unused, on a shelf since 1973.

 

So, unlike some of the other antiques and/or instruments I have, this concertina has little emotional connection for me.

 

Thanks in advance for your input....

Concertina 1c.pdf

Concertina 2.pdf

Concertina 3.pdf

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I play a 20 button Lachenal quite similar to this, but an earlier serial number, and in restored condition and tuned to modern pitch. Mine has lovely tone, and I really enjoy it!

 

If it plays, or can be readily brought to playing condition, then it is worth more as a playing instrument than as an antique, much better to get it playing properly. If on the other hand it is truly derelict as an instrument then it shouldn't bring much on the antique market either, or at least it wouldn't in England.

 

What restoration it requires, and therefore what yours is worth, depends a great deal on what is inside. The condition of the reeds is the key thing, but the action is important as well. Also do the bellows leak, or are they split in any way?

 

It doesn't seem as though you intend to learn to play, which is too bad. But if I'm wrong and you have an interest in trying it out, properly fitted replacement straps are inexpensive and easy to obtain, (for example, from concertinaspares.com) and that would also make the rest of the condition easier to assess, and I would guess would make it easier to sell, or at least more attractive on the shelf. But if it is in good or repairable condition, it would be sad for it to stay on the shelf.

 

20 button instruments are generally not as desired as 30 button, which command a much higher price because of the additional notes which allow playing in more musical keys. But despite the limitations, the 20 button is a great little instrument, so I encourage you to give it a try, or at least let someone else enjoy playing it.

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Tradewinds Ted,

Thanks for the reply. I love music, and God has blessed me in many ways. However, absent from those many blessing, are the skills necessary to actually play music. It's taken me 45+ years to become less than mediocre on piano. That being said I just do not see me trying to learn playing a concertina.

 

As for my concertina,
• Al keys appear to function properly - but then again I am not sure what proper key action should be.
• Each key plays two notes depending on the bellow action involved - but I am not using much bellow pressure either.
• No leaks in bellow folds detected, but I am not risking aggressively expanding it to look either.
• Both hand straps have rotted and broken, but all strap mounts are still in place, no scratches.
• To the best of my knowledge, this concertina has never been opened for inspection or service, at least not since 1973. Endplate screws show no sign of previous removal/reinsertion.

 

All of the above is part of the issue for me. If it is more valuable as a future instrument in the right hands, I do not want to do anything, even a simple examination or inspection, that if done incorrectly may be more costly or diminish its use to someone else.

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If I had any instrument that was part of my family history, I would hang on to it no matter what. But that is just me.

 

Playing something an ancestor used can be a real blast. Anglo concertina is not hard to play at a basic level.

 

Ken

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It is always a guess speculating on an unseen instrument's repair costs. Here are a few general things that may need to be done to bring a 20b into playing condition:

 

New pads......................................................$45.

New valves....................................................$40.

Chamois seal shimming................................$15.

Replacement of some felts and bushings.....$10.

Action adjustment .........................................$40.

New hand straps...........................................$18.

Tuning................................................$100-$200.

 

If the bellows is basically sound but needs some incidental leak patching figure on another $25-$50 The tuning cost estimate is based on actual bench time. How close to standard the concertina presently is tuned and the condition of the reeds plays into the necessary tuning time.

 

Sometimes a found or auction 20b can be a gem and whip into playing shape quickly and inexpensively but most are "diamonds in the rough" that will take $200-$350 worth of repair time to polish into playing shape.

 

Greg

 

And I should add that there can be unpleasant surprises like cracked pad boards, lifting action plates, loose lever pivots etc. which can be fixed but add to the refurbishment expense.

Edited by Greg Jowaisas
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Ken,
I understand about family heritage. The point is, I cannot document that this Lechenal originated with my family in Liverpool in the late 1800's, only its history since 1973. The balance of its history, is speculation on my part (albeit reasonable) based on family members birthdates and close proximity to E.J. Ward's in Liverpool in the late 1800's. Between my wife and I, we have many other family antiques, and we have spend a considerable amount of time trying to trace their origins up and through our family. One such piece is an Erard/Linke (France) grand piano, built in 1903. We have even been able to locate the original hand written ledgers (kept in a French museum), involving its original manufacturer as well as its original Bill of Sale, and have been able to document its history of ownership up to our family's acquisition in 1977. Those are truly treasured pieces to us. This concertina sat on my father's closet shelf until he passed in 1998. He never played it, I never even knew he had it until he passed away. So its hard for me to create an emotional connection to it.

 

Based on what has been offered by forum members on this topic and others, I am led to believe that this Lachenal, can still have a wonderful service life for someone who actually appreciates its sound quality, performance, and its history. Based on Greg's post above, (thank you Greg) maybe my decision should now be whether to have it brought back to "playing condition" (not necessarily restored), so that if I do decide to sell it, I can offer the buyer a better assurance as to what he would be buying. Or the other option would be to simply sell it as is, which would allow the buyer to decide to what level of restoration he wants to bring to it, and allowing him/her to use restorers that he/she knows and trusts. Excepting the leather hand straps, as far as I know this Lachenal is 100% original. I see no marring on the endplate brass screws to indicate that it has ever been opened. That being the case, and not being an expert on antique concertina's (understatement), I am still somewhat hesitant to have anything replaced on it (ie: valves and pads), that may adversely alter another persons view on its "originality".

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...I am still somewhat hesitant to have anything replaced on it (ie: valves and pads), that may adversely alter another persons view on its "originality".

 

No worries there--the value of a concertina lies in its playability and tone, and valves and pads are wear items that are regularly replaced on antique instruments. An analogue would be the tires on an antique car or motorcycle. If you want to drive the vehicle safely for any distance, you need to put new tires on it, and the only collectors who value the old tires are those who prefer their cars/bikes as static displays rather than vehicles (or keep a second set of wheels with new tires on them for road use, wherein the parallel breaks down rather). Anyway, replacing the curled valves and worn pads on your Lachenal (assuming it's done right) will increase its value, not decrease it.

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jdms,

 

Great analogy. Following on that analogy, and depending on the subject matter, sometimes "Garage Finds" (flat tires and all) are more attractive to buyers, as they are then in full control of the quality of the restoration process, rather than trying to correct poor repairs and/or picking up where others left off. In this case, because of the dollars actually involved and since all the keys/reeds appear to work, I think my best move is to go ahead and get this concertina into playing condition as recommended by Greg. I will use the concertina.net site to locate a recommended repair/restorationist, that can provide operational repairs and provide the necessary description on its actual condition.

 

Thanks to all, for you invaluable information

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jdms,

 

Great analogy. Following on that analogy, and depending on the subject matter, sometimes "Garage Finds" (flat tires and all) are more attractive to buyers, as they are then in full control of the quality of the restoration process, rather than trying to correct poor repairs and/or picking up where others left off. In this case, because of the dollars actually involved and since all the keys/reeds appear to work, I think my best move is to go ahead and get this concertina into playing condition as recommended by Greg. I will use the concertina.net site to locate a recommended repair/restorationist, that can provide operational repairs and provide the necessary description on its actual condition.

 

Thanks to all, for you invaluable information

 

Based on personal experience, I would recommend Greg himself for the repair/restoration, if he's interested, and I think that there are a number of others here who would make the same recommendation.

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Thank you Daniel and Blue Eyed Sailor. That is why I am relying on this forum to help properly guide me with my decision and the process itself. I wouldn't of even known to ask the tuning question, or for that matter what the difference between the two are. I will also admit to scratching my head a little when I read Don Taylors post (#4) above. I am sure a little reading and self-research on this website will start to clue me in on some of the differences.

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There are two issues with the pitch: the "old" concert pitch having been significantly higher than today's 440 hz, and the so called "temperament" (which Don was referring to): today we are very much used to dividing the octave into 12 equal steps, resulting in sameness of sound for any key, whereas in former times tunings (temperaments) had favoured certain keys, mainly Cmaj and its relativ modes, to a varying extent... Particularly some "mean tone" tunings seem to be preferable under certain circumstances (which has been widely discussed in this forum).

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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