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Bill Taffe

Campbells Of Glasgow

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There's a concertina on ebay made by "Campbell's of Glasgow" It has 32 buttons in 2 rows on each side with no apparent air button. The end placque says

Campbell's

Improved

Concertina

03 Trongate

Glasgow

 

It's in poor shape (lots of buttons missing, etc.) but I'm looking for a fixer-upper. Does anyone know anything about Campbell's of Glasgow? Or what kind of concertina this might be? Most importantly, is it likely to have reeds in a radial reed pan or is it more likely to be like the Italian or Hohner inexpensive instruments with reeds in a reed box as in accordians?

 

Any thoughts on what this might be like would be most appreciated. The auction ends in 3 days.

 

Bill Taffe

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I know nothing about Campbells, but this one sounds familiar, like a replay of one that was on eBay a month or two ago. Anybody else remember more? (E.g., if I'm actually remembering something else, maybe somebody else will recognize what.)

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Dear Bill

 

I would suggest that this is not an ideal project to learn concertina repair.

 

1) It is a nonstandard system so would not be the most favorable to play yourself or to sell as a player.

 

2) I suspect it is of German manufacture although it is an odball so you never know. See comments by Wes and myself under "concertinas of war?" and, in the photo, look through the holes where buttons are missing. The fretwork also reminds me of many early German-made "anglos" exported to England and the U. S. This doesn't mean it's a bad instrument, only that you might be disappointed if (like most here) you are focused on the english type of concertina reed.

 

3) It is potentially of much more historical interest (to a student of unusual keyboards, such as Mr. Wayne) than as a player. It possibly should be left as an unrestored piece, or if restored, should probably not be tried as a first project by an inexperienced repairman. Valuble information might be missed or obscured in the "renovation."

 

If someone from the list knows more about this instrument (a piano-keyed concertina?), please post to the history section. If someone here does buy it, I'm sure photos and a description would be of general interest to the history buffs.

 

Why not go for one of the many unrestored brass-reeded 20 key anglos or 48 key trebles out there? These go cheap since they are not economical to repair as an investment (i. e.,

the final current market value may be less than the cost of purchase + repair). On the other hand, as a pile of parts they are underpriced since it would cost much more to make these parts than they sell for unrestored. If you are braver or already have good skills (e.g. woodworking or leatherworking) you could gamble on a more expensive, higher quality project such as a steel reeded Lachenal 30 or 48 with badly crashed ends or maybe one with nice ends that needs new bellows. Here you might even turn a profit if you charge VERY little for your labor as you learn. No matter how big your pocketbook, I wouldn't experiment with "learn as you go" tuning of a really fine concertina. Chris Timson and Jim Lucas, among others, have given very good advice on this subject!

 

If you spend many years learning and practicing concertina repairs at a cost of thousands of hours (and probably enough money to buy a very nice tina), an endeavor usually begun due to frustration over the high cost of restored or new instruments, you may even go into business repairing or making them for others. Then you will be across the counter from the retail customer who is complaining about the high cost of restored instruments, repairs, new instruments...

 

Good luck!

 

Paul

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I may be a bit late replying to this post and the instrument may be now sold, however, I did see the 20 button instrument that was sold on e-bay recently. It was a very old lachenal (green bellows) that had been rebadged. I can't tell you much about the proformance of the instrument as few of the notes would sound and none of them very clearly. I spoke to Richard Evans here in Aus. and he suggested that it would have been one of the very early lachenals.

 

Campbells where one of the many companies that bought instruments and made some slight "improvements" and rebadged them.


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I don't know if this is the actual instrument under discussion here, but I recently bought a Campbells of Glasgow badged anglo on Ebay. This particular instrument was listed twice on Ebay in Australia (the first winning bidder failing to pay). The instrument has 22 buttons and was in good condition by and large. No warping and the bellows are in excellent condition. It required some repair work; new pads and tuning etc. I had Richard Evans do the work and he did a great job and it is now playing beautifully. Richard confirmed that it is a rebadged Lachenal dated 1870. The extra 2 buttons (over the standard 20) included a duck squawker on the bass end (and an empty hole on the upper end, though Richard thought it migh have once had a whistle)! I didn't retain the duch squawker and had Richard convert the extra buttons to some useful chromatic notes. Richard's assessment of the instrument is that it is a "fine example of the breed". Hope this helps clear up a bit of a mystery.

 

Paul

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Hello,

 

No, the instrument that began this inquiry was a "piano-fingered" concertina; i. e., there was a row of evenly spaced buttons on each end and a second row of buttons spaced in twos and threes as in a piano keyboard. Presumably each button sounded the same in both bellows directions. Neil Wayne was able to obtain it and is certainly among those most qualified to figure out its place in history! I haven't heard from him that he received it yet.

 

BTW, one of the very first free reed instrument types built in North America (and possibly invented here, by Bazin -- he claims) was a type of lap organ called the "rocking melodeon."

These instruments, perhaps made as early as the 1830s in New England, had cylindrical bone or ivory buttons arranged like piano keys. Since the buttons come out of a flat keyboard parallel to the bellows folds, these instruments satisfy some definitions of the term "concertina!" Thanks to Rosalie Dipper for pointing this out on seeing an early one I sent over.

 

One of the Lachenal scholars among you can no doubt tell us the story of Lachenal's attempt to make a piano-fingered concertina. According to the late Frank Butler, his grandfather George Jones also produced one. As I indicated above, however, the wooden levers visible through the button holes where buttons had come off were tell-tale indicators that THIS Campbell's concertina was of typical German-type construction. It is my understanding that Campbell's did sell German-made instruments as well as London-made concertinas.

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff

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Does anyone know anything about Campbell's of Glasgow?

 

Campbell's were probably the most important dealers in free reed instruments in the British Isles. They sold "own label" concertinas made for them in Germany, and also by both Lachenal and Jones in London. However, they were much better known for their melodeons, which they sold in huge numbers, from the mid 1870's up until WW2.

They were pioneers of selling by mail order, with free carriage to any address in Great Britain or Ireland, advertising in many newspapers & magazines, and claiming 150,000 Testimonials in a 1900 advertisement.

 

Or what kind of concertina this might be? Most importantly, is it likely to have reeds in a radial reed pan or is it more likely to be like the Italian or Hohner inexpensive instruments with reeds in a reed box as in accordians.

 

I saw this instrument on eBay, and was tempted by it myself, but the poor condition put me off it (though I think Neil Wayne bought it ?).

As has already been said, it is a "piano system" concertina, and appears to be of German construction. The model was patented, in London, in 1862 (July 9.-No.1976) by Charles Frederick William Rust, acting for the German manufacturer Ferdinand Glier. They were later made by both George Jones and Lachenal & Co. (I even saw a Wheatstone Aeola version once !), but the system has always been flawed, as it is not possible for anyone to play with their thumbs on a concertina, making the instrument pretty useless to a keyboard player, for whom it was supposedly intended.

 

Stephen

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I used to have a similar concertina produced (I think) by Crabbs and containing an oval label with the inscription JEDCERTINA by J E Dallas and Son, London.

In good condition, but totally unusable! Think I may have sold/traded it to Phil Inglis for his collection. (Any one know if he is still actively involved in concertinas?)

We find quite a few Cambelll's melodeons and concertinas in Australia; don't know if his catalogue sales extended this far from Glasgow, though if it did I doubt if free postage was included! More likely though, brought here by UK and Irish migrants. Both German made anglos and rebadged Lachenal anglos and English concertinas have come my way, but all lower range models.

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Malcolm,

 

All the Jedcertinas that I have seen were made by Lachenal & Co., using the same body as their cheap mahogany-ended anglos. However Harry Crabb did make some anglos for Dallas in the late '30's (it seems that it may not have been just a share of the Salvation Army business that he inherited from Lachenal's ?).

 

I haven't seen, or heard of Phil Inglis for about 7 or 8 years (mind you I haven't seen you for at least 15 !), I wonder what he's up to ?

 

It looks like there is a 20-key Campbell's, made by Geoge Jones, for sale on eBay at the moment, item # 2370566245, complete with the common misreading of "Irongate" for "Trongate" in the description.

 

I've got a wonderful photo of Campbell's shop front, around 1890, with various concertinas, accordions and lots of other instruments in the window (it's a very crowded window display).

 

Stephen

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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Stephen,

The Jedcertina I had was black painted ends and wood screws rather than end bolts. Both seemed original, so it was a bit different to the Lachenal ones you mention. Otherwise construction was conventional.

 

By the way, you have seen me more recently than 15 years ago, when I came to the shop in Dublin in mid 2001, and you demo'd the new anglo prototype....

 

Malcolm

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Malcolm,

 

Oh I certainly don't rule out that Crabb's might have made your Jedcertina, like I said, I know that Harry built some anglos for Dallas, after Lachenal's closed down & Mr. Sanders (from Lachenal's) came to work with him, in the late '30's. But I haven't seen any evidence that Jedcertinas were made that late, and I've never seen a Crabb with woodscrews instead of endbolts, but Harry was building some very cheap instruments at the time. I have one of his anglos here from that period that I was sold (by somebody who should have known better) as a Lachenal, because it has mahogany ply ends with the same fretwork design, but the giveaway is that it is evidently fretcut by hand rather than spindle-cut like a Lachenal (I heard of somebody buying one off eBay recently that everybody thought was a Lachenal too).

 

Goodness, I had forgotten about your visit to the shop, put it down to premature senility ! I am in the process of selling the place, so I can see to my ageing parents, as well as working on my research & the concertina-making project. There has been some very promising progress with the latter since then, but I haven't had the time, or the money, to bring it to fruition just yet.

 

Stephen

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