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Lachenal 31B Anglo - Date Of Manufacture?

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Trying to pin a date of manufacture on a metal-ended 31b anglo concertina by Lachenal - that is numbered 188334.

 

 

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Worked out simply on average annual production, I'd arrive at mid-1928.

 

But there will have been fluctuations in production and if Randy Merris sees your query he may be able to "tweak" that somewhat, based on known years of manufacture/sale for certain instruments...

 

Edited spellng (this old computer has a mind of its own!)

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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I used to own 192285 (Paul Schwartz owned it before me) and it had a 1924 date (repair?) penciled inside.

 

Ken

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I used to own 192285 (Paul Schwartz owned it before me) and it had a 1924 date (repair?) penciled inside.

 

Well, we're stil talking "mid-1920s" Ken, and there is said to have been a decline in the popularity of the Anglo that decade - so "averages" may be a few years out, as I warned. Whilst, for that matter, it'd probably be very unreasonable to suppose that "serial numbers" are strictly "serial" in application anyway - in fact the surviving Wheatstone ledgers (especially from the 1850s) demonstrate how very much they can sometimes jump about...

 

However, people only usually write anything inside concertinas (or accordions/melodeons) when they have to take the end off the instrument for some reason, and often it's the date some repair needed to be done, but sometimes it'll be the date they bought it, or think they bought it - I know of at least one case where the original owner's son wrote in the date he believed his father had bought an instrument, 50 years previously, but what he wrote was several years before it could possibly have been made to that design... And sometimes the writing is very hard to read, and open to misinterpretation.

 

So I'd be cautious about dates written inside instruments, and I think Randy is too, but he has some data from original sales receipts, which would be a lot more definitive.

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I submitted the date (and a photo, IIRC, I do have some) to Randy's census project long ago; I assumed it was a purchaser's mark but learned at the time it could be later. The year was pretty clear; at the time it was explained to me that in the UK one writes day/month/year (unlike in the US), but I was aware of that. Right now I don't recall if it was 1/4/24 or 4/1/24. Of course it is only a constraint as a syn- or post-manufacture date.

 

I certainly don't mean to impugn the experience of any experts, nor do I intend to hijack a thread. My intent was to make a cheery comment affirming the general nature of other remarks here, and to agree that we do have a rough idea of when Lachenals were made.

 

Cheers,

Ken

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I certainly don't mean to impugn the experience of any experts, nor do I intend to hijack a thread.

 

I certainly didn't think either Ken, but I've come across cases (like an allegedly "earliest accordion known" in Scandinavia, that is of a German design that was not made until several years later) where far too much weight has been attached to a date written in, or on, something, when we don't know who wrote it, when or why. So I'd be a bit wary of such inscriptions, unless they can be corroborated, especially if there's better information to go on.

 

Anyway, searching the forum for "Lachenal receipt" I've (so far) found mention of a 1926 one (that I'd forgotten I possess, ahem! :rolleyes: ) by Randy - "I have a receipt for No. 196865, which shows that it was purchased on 9 January 1926 at a cost of 5.0.0 British pounds." which would seem to confirm the plausibility of the 1924 date you mentioned inside 192285, whatever it signifies.

 

In fact it's starting to look like "circa 1920" might be a more plausible date for 188334...

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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My best information is from handwriting inside a small-bodied (5 1/2 inches acrros the ends) 30-key in Bb/F. The serial number is No. 187243. It says "Led the troops into Armentieres, 13 October - 2 November 1914".

 

Of course, the owner could have purchased it well before marching off to the trenches in 1914. But from the other information that I have, I think that there is a good chance that the purchase was in 1913 or 1914. Thus, I would estimate the year of manufacture for No. 188334 as circa 1915.

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Of course, the owner could have purchased it well before marching off to the trenches in 1914. But from the other information that I have, I think that there is a good chance that the purchase was in 1913 or 1914. Thus, I would estimate the year of manufacture for No. 188334 as circa 1915.

 

Goodness me, that's THIRTEEN years earlier than a calculation based simply on an "average annual production" (of 2,832.4 per annum from 1862-1933) would suggest - something seems seriously skewed somewhere :huh:. (Is there any other evidence for serial numbers around 1914?)

 

Of course it's quite possible, if not downright probable, that not all numbers got actually allocated to instruments at times, and numbers may well have sometimes got used years out of sequence, but it would seem to suggest an exceedingly serious decline in the popularity of the Anglo in Lachenal's latter years...

 

A graph showing a plot of averages, and a plot of established dates, could prove very interesting indeed.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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My best information is from handwriting inside a small-bodied (5 1/2 inches acrros the ends) 30-key in Bb/F. The serial number is No. 187243. It says "Led the troops into Armentieres, 13 October - 2 November 1914".

 

Oh, and just thought - if it did indeed get played at Ypres, it's not impossible that grandpa Jack Chambers might have heard it - because his Battalion (2nd Beds.) arrived there on 18th October... :huh:

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To add to the confusion -- or p'rhaps knowledge -- I have a Lachenal 32 button (plus air), now G/D, probably Ab/Eb in its youth. Serial number is 179577. I have no knowledge of its date but it was evidently made for the Salvation Army -- there's "S A" in the metal end plate -- and if anything is known about when the Salvation Army bought such bespoke instruments perhaps a date could be derived from that.

 

I got the instrument from Malcolm Clapp, luminary of this parish, who might know more of its history.

 

Chris

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To add to the confusion -- or p'rhaps knowledge -- I have a Lachenal 32 button (plus air), now G/D, probably Ab/Eb in its youth. Serial number is 179577. I have no knowledge of its date but it was evidently made for the Salvation Army -- there's "S A" in the metal end plate -- and if anything is known about when the Salvation Army bought such bespoke instruments perhaps a date could be derived from that.

 

Probably all that can be inferred from that is that it (and many more like it) would have most-likely been made after the closing down of George Jones' business (1905, or maybe 1909?), because Jones formerly had a contract to supply the Salvation Army, which later seems to have passed to Lachenal's.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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I know that it seems far-fetched, but I have been researching a Lachenal article for more than a decade. It will stand on the shoulders of the two fine articles (Free Reed Journal and Papers of the International Concertina Association) by Stephen Chambers. Hopefully this posting will spur me into action to get the article drafted, sent to Stephen for comments, and finally released.

One of the focal points of the article will be estimating the years of manufacture for Lachenals--Anglos, Englishes, Maccann duets, and Crane duets, of course.

Two pitfalls of estimation are:

1. Confusing repair/retuning dates, inscribed inside Lachenals, with original sales dates.

2. Confusing invoice dates for second-hand Lachenals with invoice dates for newly manufactured Lachenals.

Another point to consider is that Lachenal had an inventory of new concertinas for sale (unlike waiting for a couple off years today for your new Dipper, Carroll, Suttner, etc.). Picture walking into the little Lachenal showroom and, in the case below the picture of Dutch Day, are a number of new Lachenals that can be taken home TODAY). So year of manufacture may be a year or more before year of sale.

The information on dates of repair/retuning is very important, not for estimating the year of manufacture, but for checking the estimates that have been made using other information. If the repair date precedes the estimated sale date, something is clearly wrong. So all repair dates most follow the estimated dates, but by how much? I have about 75 serial number/repair dates for Anglo concertinas. Casual observation suggests that a lot of the instruments were not repaired or even retuned until 8-10 years into their use.

Here is a set of what I consider to be some good original-sale numbers:

1895 140871

1896 144430

1898 162849

1906 169404

1914 187243

1926 196856

 

Here are my first-cut estimates of annual production in various periods:

1862 300 (Notice that it appears that Louis Lachenal (RIP in December 1861) never made Anglos)

1863-1864 600 per year

1865-1873 2,578/yr

1874-1877 5,575/yr (Production more than doubled after "Louis Lachenal" became "Lachenal & Co.")

1878-1890 5,200/yr

1891-1898 6,500/yr

1899-1914 1,600/yr

1915-1927 850/yr

1928 500

1929 400

1930 300

1931 100

1932-33 Very few

Notice that, by my estimates, sales went down by almost 50 percent during WWI and never recovered.

I am posting the above material rather reluctantly, since I want to emphasize that these estimates are EXTREMELY TENTATIVE!

Edited by Dowright

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I know that it seems far-fetched, but I have been researching a Lachenal article for more than a decade.

 

I am posting the [below] material rather reluctantly, since I want to emphasize that these estimates are EXTREMELY TENTATIVE!

 

A decade doesn't seem remotely far-fetched to me Randy, a project like this takes "forever" to research, and will always be "a work in progress" that you're still learning about and reluctant to publish - until, maybe, somebody commissions an article from you and sets you a deadline, at which point you can only write based on your present knowledge and understanding of the topic.

 

Nothing like this can ever be completely "definitive" - but I think it's much better to publish what you do know sooner rather than later - and that could in-itself then generate a lot more data from the owners of instruments...

 

 

Here are my first-cut estimates of annual production in various periods:

1862 300 (Noticce that it appears that Louis Lachenal (RIP in December 1861) never made Anglos)

1863-1864 600 per year

1865-1873 2,578/yr

1874-1877 5,575/yr {Production more than doubled after "Louis Lachenal" became "Lachenal & Co."

1878-1890 5,200/yr

1891-1898 6,500/yr

1899-1914 1,600/yr

1915-1927 850/yr

1928 500

1929 400

1930 300

1931 100

1932-33 Very few

Notice that, by my estimates, sales went down by almost 50 percent during WWI and never recovered.

 

That is extremely interesting, and would seem to contradict some previous assertions - like it was said in the 1870s that the German concertina was at the height of its popularity in the 1860s and that the German accordion/melodeon took over from it in the '70s, but that evidently was far from the case with regard to Lachenal's production of Anglo-German concertinas. And though, as has been asserted before, there was evidently a very serious decline in the Anglo's popularity in the 1920s, your figures show not only that "sales went down by almost 50 percent during WWI", but also that they'd already declined by 75% in the period 1899 to 1914, before it even started. :blink:

 

It's very much a tale of The Rise and Fall of the Anglo Concertina...

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Consider thew following by Edward Francis Rimbault in the "Musical Instruments" section of G. Phillips (ed.), British Manufacturing Industries, Vol. 11 (London; Edward Stanton, 1st ed. 1876; 2nd ed. 1878).

 

"Another result of the use of the free-reed is the invention of the English concertina."(page 139).

. . . .

Another instrument has sprung out of this--the Anglo-German concertina . . . . It is of great commercial importance to Saxony and Vienna, where 400,000 are manufactured annually. In England, there are only two great makers, Messrs. Lachenal and Chidley (late Wheatstone), and the manufacture is about 5000 annually [bold added]." (page 140)

 

This is the only citiation that I have for annual production of Anglo concertinas in the period. Note that if "5000 annually" is attributed to Lachenal, it is pretty close to my 1870s estimate--made independently--(see the above posting). [Rimbault must have been referring to Edward Chidley, because Rock Chidley had gone bankrupt more than a decade earlier. And Edward did not make many concertinas under his own name. I guess Rimbualt did not know about the George Jones and Jeffries operations.]

 

Rimbault should be viewed as a pretty reliable source. He was an organist, musicologist, and musical antiquarian. He was best known as for the organ--player and author: The Organ: Its History and Construction (1855) and Early English Organ Builders and Their Works (1865). But he was also 'keyed-in" to the concertina. Under the pen name of "Franz Nava," he has over 100 popular music arrangements in the British Library. As Franz Nava, he published several collections of tunes specifically for concertina, as well as for violin, flute, cornet and clarionet: Chappell's 100 Irish Melodies ... or Concertina (1859), Chappell's 100 Scottish Melodies ... or Concertina (1859), Chappell's 100 Revival Hymns ... or Concertina (1874), etc. He was an associate and friend of Joseph Warren (prolific concertina music arranger and concertina tutor author) until they had a split.

 

400,000 annual production on the Continent! Even if somewhat overstated, it indicates impressive output.

Edited by Dowright

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That is extremely interesting, and would seem to contradict some previous assertions - like it was said in the 1870s that the German concertina was at the height of its popularity in the 1860s and that the German accordion/melodeon took over from it in the '70s, but that evidently was far from the case with regard to Lachenal's production of Anglo-German concertinas. And though, as has been asserted before, there was evidently a very serious decline in the Anglo's popularity in the 1920s, your figures show not only that "sales went down by almost 50 percent during WWI", but also that they'd already declined by 75% in the period 1899 to 1914, before it even started. :blink:

 

It's very much a tale of The Rise and Fall of the Anglo Concertina...

 

Hi Stephen and Randy, good to hear from you both!

 

I'm not sure who Stephen is referring to on his referred notion of 1860s popularity. In Volume 1 of my concertina history books (link here) I showed that 'sightings' of the instrument in English books and Journals strongly peaked in the 1890s, and dropped off to nearly nothing after WWI (see Figure 52, p. 35). Seven years ago, when I was doing my research for that book, Randy kindly gave me access to his early Lachenal numbers, which I combined with Wheatstone ledger numbers to produce a combined Wheatstone-Lachenal production chart from data known at that time. It shows that the two largest decades were the 1880s and 1890s. My interpretation of Randy's early data (Figure 43, p. 27) showed a Lachenal peak in the 1880s, but I now see that Randy's latest data shows it peaking in the 1890s -- evidence that his decade wait was well spent! At any rate, it was clear to me back then that the last two decades of the nineteenth century were the glory days for the concertina, and that that popularity was driven by the popularity of the Anglo-German keyboard.

 

Regarding the 400,000 number for German concertinas that Randy mentions, I quoted that number on page 29, and made a pie chart of it in Figure 44, p. 30. The German concertina overwhelmed its Anglo-German cousin in popularity everywhere, including England. Figure 45, p. 30, shows why....the vast numbers of English buying public were working class poor. The fellow playing concertina in a workman's cottage in the countryside --or in East London -- hadn't the money for a handmade English-made instrument, unless he was a musician dependent upon it for some of his livelihood (street musician or rural musician playing for dances, for example). Those cheap German instruments wore out, however, and when WWI came, the vast supply of German instruments was cut off, never to really return. This hurt not only the sales of German concertinas, but Anglo-Germans as well. It was at that time that "Anglo-German" concertinas became "Anglo" concertinas, as I showed in the chart in Figure 55, p. 39....there was a German stigma after the war.

 

Regarding the rise of the accordion, in Volume 2 I showed that the accordion became more and more popular in the 1880s to 1900s decades, eclipsing the concertina in the 1890s (Figure 11, p. 171 of Volume 2). Then both got whacked by the rise of the guitar, in the 2000s decade (Figure 12). I used New Zealand newspaper data for those Figures when writing in 2008, because NZ had complete digital data for all its newspapers then (still waiting for that in the UK and US!). Nonetheless, sales of all musical instruments fell precipitously with the rise of the gramophone.

 

BTW, for interest of cnet readers, both books are available for free on Google Books, or for sale at Amazon.

 

Cheers,

Dan

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Yes, I have a second edition copy of British Manufacturing Industries sitting on the bookshelf beside me and I'm well aware of Rimbault (hence having paid £40 for it, solely for his 44 page contribution!), but my reading would be that he is saying the entire production of all concertinas (English as well as Anglo, though no doubt mainly Lachenal Anglos at that time) by both Lachenal's and Wheatstone's (who didn't start manufacturing Anglos until the early 1900s anyway - following the death of Edward Chidley snr.) "is about 5,000 annually."

 

Certainly there were huge numbers of cheap 10-key and 20-key German concertinas (generally of "disposable" quality) coming out of Saxony at that time, but (as far as I know) they were only making English concertinas in Vienna (which they called "melophon" or "melofon" there) .

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... it was said in the 1870s that the German concertina was at the height of its popularity in the 1860s and that the German accordion/melodeon took over from it in the '70s ...

I'm not sure who Stephen is referring to on his referred notion of 1860s popularity.

 

I can't remember the source of that myself, offhand, Dan - though I think it was probably from the introduction to an 1870's tutor for the German accordion/melodeon. But it is something that I've mentioned several times before - I'll have a hunt and see if I can track it down...

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