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Dating Crabb Concertinas


Geoffrey Crabb
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As some will know, health issues have caused me to step back somewhat from concertina related issues, so, due to requests for dating information regarding  Crabb instruments, I offer the attached information that may be found useful or at least interesting.

I have tried to provide all the information that I believe to be relevant, based on the records that exist and that furnished by current/past owners of these instruments.

 

To those awaiting replies to dating and other enquiries, I apologise.

 

Geoff

Crabb Dating Document.docx

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Thank you Geoff!

This information is a valuable resource and I'm so glad you decided to make it available. As one in possession of two instruments form the first page, it is fun to have an idea of where they fall in the history of this great family of concertinas. There are some very interesting notes that you have included.

 

Any idea why the numbering started with 8071? I am not at all surprised they start at a high number, but one wonders if it was an arbitrary number, or had some meaning.

 

It is curious that the stamped numbers were not used consistently for resold instruments until 1895. Were early J Crabb instruments with stamped numbers indicative of an instrument that was not originally build for resale? I have one from that late 1880s that is stamped, but also appears to be sold by Ball Beavon. Perhaps it was not commissioned, but resold and stamped externally by Ball Beavon later?

 

It is also really interesting that the total number of instruments produced per year appears to have hovered so consistently right around 20/year from 1876-1907. There are a few dips, but usually followed by a jump the following year, which makes me wonder if the numbers were assigned when the instrument was completed or when it was started. I'm also curious about the 337 number in the final table. The serial numbers progress from 8321 in 1889 to 8503 in 1895, so that sounds like a total of 182 in 7 years or 26 per year.

 

All very interesting. Thanks again for sharing!

 

Best,

Jeremy

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  • 1 year later...

In your dating document you request owners to get in touch if they have a Concertina where you have listed the ID number in Red as having not been used.

This week I purchased a 20 button Concertina at auction that that mimiced a Lachenal, but when I opened it up had the  stamp "Crabb and Son, Makers, London" on the bottom of the reed pans. The number appears to be 9231 stamped on Bellows frame, top and bottom of the action box and between the chambers of the reed pan. It came with steel reeds in Aluminium shoes and five fold leather bellows. The woodwork appears to be all mahogany veneered ply on the ends and the buttons are plastic, the action is rivetted and the pads and valves (mostly brown) are in generally good condition. My other Crabb instrument (18225, 40K anglo) also has aluminium reed shoes and I associate the use of Aluminium with post war (39-45) manufacture but the ID number is apparently from an earlier period so I'm thinking there is some discrepancy here. I am wondering if it has been refurbished at some time before You ceased trading. I can provide photographs if you would like to see the Crabb stamp and numbers  Several of the numbers are in places hard to decipher as the ink has run.

Regards

Mike Jones

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  • 2 months later...

I wonder if you could be of assistance in advising me what date range a 48 button Crabb concertina with no initial or serial number on the outside stamp either end is likely to be before I get it taken apart? I believe it to have been in my grandads possession since the 30’s? He used to play in Rotherhithe great hall ( bombed in 1948) in a band. I have looked at dating documents and other info but don’t seem to be getting any closer to finding the answer? 
He also used to play the accordion and organ 
Regards Zenia
 

 

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On 8/27/2021 at 9:14 PM, Mike Jones said:

The number appears to be 9231 stamped on Bellows frame, top and bottom of the action box and between the chambers of the reed pan. It came with steel reeds in Aluminium shoes and five fold leather bellows. ... I associate the use of Aluminium with post war (39-45) manufacture but the ID number is apparently from an earlier period so I'm thinking there is some discrepancy here.

 

I once owned no. 9155, a 48 button Crane dated 1934. It had aluminium reed frames, aluminium ends and aluminium action. I believe it was because, as players themselves, the Crabb family appreciated the value of lightweight instruments.

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5 hours ago, Little John said:

 

I once owned no. 9155, a 48 button Crane dated 1934. It had aluminium reed frames, aluminium ends and aluminium action. I believe it was because, as players themselves, the Crabb family appreciated the value of lightweight instruments.

 

Also solid aluminium buttons. I seem to recall Geoff Crabb told me 9155 was made for a member of a marching band. I believe aluminium became more affordable after the first world war and was fairly commonplace by the 1930s.

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On 11/15/2021 at 9:11 AM, Culmer said:

I wonder if you could be of assistance in advising me what date range a 48 button Crabb concertina with no initial or serial number on the outside stamp either end is likely to be before I get it taken apart? I believe it to have been in my grandads possession since the 30’s? He used to play in Rotherhithe great hall ( bombed in 1948) in a band. I have looked at dating documents and other info but don’t seem to be getting any closer to finding the answer? 
He also used to play the accordion and organ 
Regards Zenia

Hi Zenia, thank you for your post, you may the following of interest  if not immediately useful.

 

Crabb were not only concertina makers and repairers but also dealers of used instruments of their own or other makes.

Used instruments were usually acquired as:

                part payment by those wishing to upgrade to a better instrument, or

                part or full deposit by those ordering a new Crabb concertina, or

                by those wishing to dispose  of ‘inherited’ and/or unwanted instruments.

The condition etc. of acquired concertinas varied considerably and would dictate the amount of work necessary to make them a reliable, re-saleable item.

Instruments of other make where, for instance, refurbishment included replacement metal tops to be made and fitted, were not given Crabb identity numbers, the original makers internal number, if present, being left intact. 

Replacement metal tops, usually bear the ‘CRABB MAKER’ stamp on both ends or if wood, the original maker and number label or a facsimile would be installed.

 

It is therefore, probable that the concertina, the subject of this post, was acquired as one of the above and refurbished or rebuilt and supplied at some time after 1930?

Unfortunately, no Crabb sales records for refurbished/rebuilt instruments are available so it not possible to give a positive date of sale or the details of the buyer.

 

In many cases, due to the amount of refurbishment work carried out, it can be very difficult or impossible, to identify the original maker from an external appearance.

Recourse to opening the instrument, by one experienced in this procedure, may reveal a recognisable number that can be a attributed to a particular maker and possibly lead to a date of manufacture.

 

Providing a rough indication of your location may attract an offer of help to carry out opening the instrument.

 

Geoff

 

 

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Thankyou very much Geoff, for your comprehensive reply. That makes absolute sense and would place the concertina in the right time frame that we believed my grandad acquired it. As a non player of this instrument, I can certainly say that I have still had a lot of joy from it, in the interest that it has created in trying to find its history and learning about my grandad. 
Keep well, Zenia

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