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48B English For Auction, 20Th Jan 2016. Paris, France.


Anglogeezer
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for auction on 20th January by

ARTCURIAL,
Hôtel Marcel Dassault
7 rond-point des Champs-Élysées
Paris,
75008 France


Lot 63.
CONCERTINA ANGLAIS DE FRANÇOIS FRATELLINI
bois vernis à décor floral en laiton et cuir vert gaufré. Lanières de cuir noir. 48 clés
Numéro "1991" gravé
15 x 16 x 18 cm
ENGLISH CONCERTINA; WOOD, BRASS AND LEATHER; NUMBERED "1991"
5,90 x 6,29 x 7,08 in.
Estimated Price: €1,000 - €1,200


see here : http://www.invaluable.co.uk/auction-lot/concertina-anglais-de-francois-fratellini-63-c-e314515a19

Here is a link to the full auction catalogue : http://www.invaluable.co.uk/catalog/searchLots.cfm?scp=c&catalogRef=KYW8MDTQL1&shw=100

The auction is small, only 92 lots, all circus related and mainly of the FRATELLINI family of clowns.
see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fratellini_family

FRATELLINI is mentioned in a couple of threads on concertina.com

here: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=2383&hl=fratellini&do=findComment&comment=23148
So!! A concertina with history!!
Jake
Edit : here's a picture of the three brothers, I believe Francois is the white face clown in the middle, the brother on the right has a concertina : http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3064/1537/1600/CLOWNS%20Fratellini%20walking.jpg
Edited by Anglogeezer
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  • 5 weeks later...

It looks like a good-quality George Case instrument, quite possibly with double-reedpans, dating from the 1850s, but there's nothing to say/show that (though he may have owned it) François Fratellini actually played such an antiquated instrument in the brothers' act - whilst photographs clearly show that his great-grandniece Valérie Fratellini plays a (much louder) 20th century Aeola with metal ends, like her mother Annie Fratellini did.

 

I guess it's hard to beat the kind of provenance that's engraved on the end of the clown (and father of the concertina-playing "Fayre Four" sisters) Jo-Jo Webb's concertina, which was made specially for him by his teacher George Jones, and described in print as a "Wheatstone of the best sort" by George Bernard Shaw (for which Jones threatened to sue him!), before passing to Frank Butler, and eventually coming into my possession:

 

 

Jo-Joconcertinaedit.jpg

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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... there's nothing to say/show that (though he may have owned it) François Fratellini actually played such an antiquated instrument in the brothers' act - whilst photographs clearly show that his great-grandniece Valérie Fratellini plays a (much louder) 20th century Aeola with metal ends, like her mother Annie Fratellini.

 

And in the first of these two film clips, at http://clownevolution.blogspot.ie/2013/11/fratellinis-video.html, the photograph of Paul Fratellini (Annie's grandfather) with his concertina (from 2.16 to 2.25) confirms my suspicion about the unsuitability of the presumed George Case instrument, in that he is evidently playing an Aeola. He is also to be seen on film playing concertina, twice, in the second clip whilst François accompanies him on guitar, as before, and that is how they are to be seen in all other illustrations of the trio with concertina too: https://www.google.ie/search?q=fratellini+brothers&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjO67q9ysvKAhVJWxQKHVpiDA4Q_AUIBygB&biw=1429&bih=781&dpr=0.9

 

So a big question in the context of the auctioned concertina must be did François Fratellini actually perform on it? It's an awful lot of money to pay for an instrument like that, and especially if it didn't actually get played in the Fratellini Trio's act... :unsure:

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Not related to this concertina, but an interesting clown and concertina-related aside nevertheless - Charlie Cairoli (1910-1980), the concertina-playing clown of Blackpool Tower Circus fame (who those of my generation would have seen on British television when we were children), learned his trade in Paris and married Paul Fratellini's daughter Violette Fratellini, and like all the Fratellini children, Violette had been trained by her uncle François - she had performed a comedy tumbling act with her sisters Regina and Tosca, called The Tomboy Girls.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Might this have been his practice instrument - for use where an aeola or similar post-parlour period concertina might have been too noisy (e.g. whilst staying hotel rooms)? I have a Scates concertina from the same sort of period that I use for just this purpose.

 

Something of the sort did occur to me, but my point is that (as far as I can see at the moment) there is no evidence that François Fratellini actually played the concertina. The concertina player in the trio was his brother Paul, with whom François was always to be seen playing the guitar... :unsure:

 

For an instrument to have "value by association" with somebody famous, they'd want to have famously played it (not just owned, but not performed on it) - which is why I've made the comparison with the Jo-Jo Webb (1860-1938) concertina. Speaking of which, I wonder if the whole close association between English concertinas and clowns didn't start with the Webb Brothers - they toured extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and were internationally famous.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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