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Concertina Hoarding

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The way I see it is that a good quality musical instrument is like a good quality book: neither one has ever been inexpensive, but both are usually worth far more that their monetary value. I have some books for which I paid what I consider high dollar, but had decided at the time were worth the jacket price; continued and repeated readings have confirmed that original opinion, and even shown more there thsat I had first seen.

Likewise, a good instrument affords so much more that the mere price as an object. The amount of value that I get from my instruments far outweighs the price pai.

But I still want to upgrade... :rolleyes:

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I didn't realize I'd be healthier without my Wheatstone.


Next someone will suggest I stop smoking while driving drunk chatting on the phone clipping my toenails.



Edited by richard
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It is an interesting issue. Yes, there is the economic theory of supply and demand to set price. Technically, "hoarding" categorizes as a demand...not a shrinkage of supply. So theoretically hoarding would tend to push prices up. Simplistically, I tend to agree with your premise.


But as I think about it...it is not so simple. Yes, selling on eBay looks like a perfect marketplace. But technically, it is not a pure marketplace. Also, the product is not a commodity. Every concertina is different, have different makers, some are new and some are used, and among the used all have different amounts of wear. There is risk associated in buying on eBay that the product is not as described, has hidden defects, or is a scam...and I assume all this gets factored in the price.


It seems there are various price plateaus: the entry-levels consisting of Stagi and Hohner, new quality instruments around $1500 from various makers, used ones of uncertain quality, and the high-end ones. Evn within these plateaus, there are various qualities.


If one were to hoard, I assume we are talking about higher-end instruments...so hoarding wouldn't effect the price point of the entry level instruments at all. I don't think there is much hoarding of the very high-end...how many $5K instruments can anyone afford?


"Supply" is not so simple. Concertinas are being built every day...except of course in the high-end vintage segment. Even in this segment, concertinas from attics are being restored. New makers may enter the market, such as with MIDI concertinas, and this affects supply. And this makes "supply" quite a dynamic.


And "demand" is not so straightforward either. People may want a C/G for starters....and then another of a different key...but the demand for this 2nd instrument may not be as great as the demand for the first...diminishing returns. And hoarding...well...this may be a different type of demand...a temporary purchase..buying and selling over the years....or some sort of opportunistic behavior. Who can explain this behavior? Certainly it is not pure demand though.


A complicated marketplace for sure.


Mike (owner of 3 banjos)

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Hoarding = collecting a large amount of something and keeping it in a safe, often secret, place.


Collecting = obtaining and keeping things of one type such as stamps or coins as a hobby.


What about Neil Wayne? If it wasn't for him, the collection of concertinas in the Horniman Museum would be very small (or non existent?)

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...there is the economic theory of supply and demand to set price.

"In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice... but not in practice."


More to the point, theories don't determine how things work; they are merely attempts to describe how things actually work. And in anything involving human beings the simpler the description, the less precise or reliable its predictions.


Technically, "hoarding" categorizes as a demand...not a shrinkage of supply.

"Technically", it can be classed as either or both. When a "hoarder" is buying instruments, that's demand. Once (s)he's done so, those instruments are no longer part of the supply. When/if (s)he puts them up for sale, they again become part of the supply. However, the same is true of instruments bought by non-hoarders.


So theoretically hoarding would tend to push prices up.

No disagreement there. But the question is, how much will the prices rise? If the demand of hoarders drove the average price up by 10 cents, we wouldn't even notice.


What really matters is not whether people are hoarding or not, but how much demand there is at any given price. If one collector is willing and able to pay $8000 each for 20 instruments, that's no different from having 20 individuals each willing and able to pay $8000 for a single instrument. The unspoken assumption that seems to underlie this thread is that at high prices the collective demand of a few is significantly greater than that of the many. But also that among the many, when they see the prices paid by the few, some raise their own "maximum" of what they're willing to pay, and this drives others -- those who won't or can't do so -- out of the market.


And that is an issue not of supply vs. demand, but of what factors affect the demand itself. At what point does that new concertina become more important than a new computer... or dental work for your child? Last year one of our members considered (on my advice) bidding significant money -- about $2000, as I recall -- for an instrument on eBay. Unwilling to bid that much for a pig in a poke, she drove 8½ hours (each way) to see the instrument "in person". Once she had it in her hands, she upped her bid to more than $4000! Even so, she was outbid by a "collector", but my point is that her own position/role in the demand changed radically, and in a way she herself would not have believed before it happened.


I believe that an increase in the number of persons wanting to own concertinas -- of all sorts -- has had a far greater effect than those few collectors who can afford to pay high prices for a few exceptional instruments. Maybe those who own 2-4 concertinas has also had a significant effect, but if so, then there must be a lot of them. And that would make them more like American two-car families than like collectors of classic automobiles.


Every concertina is different,...

So is every apple. What matters, though, is what potential buyers perceive and believe to be relevant similarity and differences. E.g., two Wheatstone model 19's that are both "playable as is, but could benefit from an overhaul", or an amboyna Æola vs. an amboyna Edeophone. And various psychological studies are unanimous in concluding that even when people are familiar with "objective" valuation criteria, their decisions rarely reflect those valuations.


If one were to hoard, I assume we are talking about higher-end instruments...so hoarding wouldn't effect the price point of the entry level instruments at all.

That might be true if there's no psychological effect connecting the two, but I find that hard to credit. On the other hand, I don't know whether the psychological effect is large or small.


I don't think there is much hoarding of the very high-end...how many $5K instruments can anyone afford?

Depends on who that "anyone" is. In fact, there is at least one concertina collector who seems able to afford quite a few. And we're lucky that Bill Gates hasn't decided to collect vintage concertinas, since he would be quite able to outbid all the rest of us on every instrument that came up for auction, if he wanted to. Or imagine the effect of a concertina bidding war between Mr. Gates and Rupert Murdoch! :o

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How many times have we seen "you'll get back at least what you paid for it" said on this site?

And I'm one of the people who say it, when encouraging others to buy the best concertina they can afford. And try as I might, I can't seee anything wrong in saying it. Buying a good concertina and coming to love it has got to be better than buying a crap instrument, being put off for life, and having to store the unloved culprit in a box somewhere because there is no market for it.

What irks me, although I realize there's no solution, are those who buy vintage concertinas PURELY as an investment.

Of course I agree with that. The armchair economists among us appear to have covered the topic exhaustively, though. There were accusations of that kind made back in the 70's and 80's, I remember, but I don't think it actually came to anything.



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Who admits to having more than 40 concertinas?

(And that up to them, especially if they were bought unplayable and are being restored)

If, for instance, two people put their "hoards" on the market, it would make a significant dent in the situation, but what would happen the year after? Back to the same situation?

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Wow, what a great group of people and ideas and thoughts. As a very rank novice with the concertina I have to make my comments based on my piping and other musical experience.

Regarding hoarding....ahh well when I started piping I could have bought a very inexpensive Pakistani set of highland pipes but I bought instead a new set of Hardies. I would have loved to have a full ivory mounted set of antique Hendersons such as one other band member had but you know what... excluding the poor quality Pakis no one can hear the difference in the music created with Hardies from the Hendersons at 5 times the cost.

Now I do realize the pitch, tone and ease of play is critical with all instruments but like the comment about the books above, it is what is written in the books not the bindings. It is the music we are able to create with our little instruments that is most important. I have a modern Martin 0015 guitar and I will put its tone and playability against any antique Martin out there. But it isn't "collectable" !

Bottom line in my mind is the music created by new quality manufacturers is as good or better than any antique. So the price being "artificially" supported of classic instruments by collectors is irrelevant. They are simply beautiful, highly desireable and sometimes musical oddities to be cherished and if affordable collected. New quality instruments will easily fill the needs of new players like myself and should I want to dream of purchasing an old beauty it won't prevent others starting no matter how many I 'hoard'.




1 Martin 0015

1 Set parlor pipes

1 Scholer G/D with a dead reed

1 Native American flute in B

soon to add Stagi


( The Scholer will be relegated to my work vehicle so I can noodle during the day and heat won't hurt it.)

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The armchair economists among us appear to have covered the topic exhaustively

A professional economist writes.


It is not an entirely satisfactory situation when vintage concertinas in perfect playing condition sell for much less than a modern equivalent new-build, because it means that there will be little or no modern equivalent new-build, as remains the case for many types of concertina, especially the better english and duets.


Of course cheap prices for old concertinas are satisfactory for those who desire bargains, getting things for less than their construction cost. We can all wish that things that we want are so undesirable or unknown to the rest of the world that we can get them for practically nothing. We also all wish that few other tourists know our favourite spots, and that such places were not so remote. And that our favourite pubs had enough people for atmosphere but not so many that we can't get a seat. And that those delicious cheap wines I used to buy were still dirt cheap, and that someone would mend my bike for small change.


The availability of the quality new-build accordion-reeded (mainly Anglo) concertina makes them a good substitute for many vintage instruments, as far as many performers are concerned. It is no accident that new-build makers concentrate on Anglos, the second-hand market suggesting much stronger demand for Anglos. But also the mid-price new-build techniques are far more suited to Anglos, because of the smaller number of reeds.


It has been suggested elsewhere in this forum that these new builds are acting as a constraint on the price inflation of mid-range vintage Anglo concertinas. This can only be a good thing as far as both performers and those who have a sentimental attachment to antiques, or who enjoy their craftsmanship, are concerned. New-build concertinas would not be available, or barely available, if equivalent quality vintage instruments were still far cheaper, as they used to be.


I think it is far better that several makers are able to make a living from making concertinas (better than mass-produced low-end models), than that it was uneconomic to do so. Though the economics of new-build construction at mid-price currently holds up much better for Anglo concertinas than English/Duet, with their larger number of reeds, so most new-build construction will remain heavily concentrated on Anglo.


At the top end of the market, most vintage instruments remain far cheaper than their potential modern replacements. It has been suggested that the top quality modern makers do not even obtain a very good living, and getting an instrument out of them is as much a favour as a commercial transaction.


People buying those vintage instruments, especially English/Duet are still getting a big bargain, because no one can make an equivalent quality instruments remotely to that cost.


What I do find a little galling is that several unique concertinas are locked up in the Horniman collection, possibly not even in playable state, and not played. Though in some cases perhaps they are too unique to be played. That feeling has nothing to do with price.

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A few comments that I couldn't keep to myself, having started this topic and unwittingly aroused so much passion.


1. I never mentioned a specific quantity of boxes that separated someone who owns for playing and someone who collects. The line itself is grey and the number will vary greatly between individuals.


2. I didn't say that the practice of hoarding/collecting instruments was "unfair" or otherwise.


3. I did not suggest that the prices now being paid were outrageous nor unjustified.


4. I agree there is no "quick fix". I never said there was.


Just one other thing, refering to how much difference it would make if one or two people were to reduce their collections. To draw a parallel, would anyone stop recycling their refuse because their bit would make no difference?



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I wasn't around concertinas back then, so this is only what I've been told, but weren't there a lot of negative comments about Neil Wayne for this very reason in the 70s and 80s?

Yes, I've been hearing this pointless argument for the past 35 years, and if anything it's even more unjustified now than it was then, seeing that there are now lots more players, and many more playable concertinas are in circulation today.


Thought for the day :


If it wasn't for the pioneering efforts of Neil Wayne in the 1970's, how many people would know anything about the concertina, let alone be playing one today ?

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Just one other thing, refering to how much difference it would make if one or two people were to reduce their collections. To draw a parallel, would anyone stop recycling their refuse because their bit would make no difference


I can't speak for the "collectors here, and I do subscribe to the "every little bit counts" theory; however, in practice I literally HAVE stopped recycling, as there is no longer anywhere convenient to recycle for free. I simply refuse to pay someone to resell my trash at a profit! Concertinas (and most things) are the same story; if they are inexpensive, I'll play.. If they continue to rise in price, I'll find another game. Passion (at least for me) must be tempered with economic logic. Example: I'd love to own a Ferrari, but a Triumph will have to do. I know there will always be a core following of wealthy concertina collectors or professional players who want or need thes high-end instruments sufficiently to pay for them....I just have to realize I can't play in their leagues. That means I keep my Jackie (no pain there!) and NOT upgrade....thereby lowering overall demand, and eventually affecting prices and profitability overall....


Just my.02!

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I'm confused now. You seem to have two lines of argument blurred into one. 1) People with lots of concertinas are responsible for the price of good instruments going up; 2) My cheap (insert own value for "cheap" here) instrument is plenty good enough for me, I don't need to pay more, so I won't buy a more expensive concertina.


The two arguments would seem to run counter to each other. Having just got back from the South of France, which was rather spoilt by an attack of gastro-enteritis in the last couple of days, I am in no condition to think this through. As a great man and personal exemplar once said, "My brain hurts".



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Man oh man I have been enjoying this!


Greg, never say never, unless you don't mind having to eat your words. Should you ever get a vintage box in your hands, say in your case a 1920's era EC Stone', not even fancy, just metal raised ends and a good six fold bellows...you will loose it.


The Button Box had one on their web site and the price was fair and resonable. I who love my Albion was having day dreams. Had to check the sight every day until someone blessedly bought it. I was having the shakes looking at it, thinking Equity line of credit on the house...you can do it. No I can't...right now.

Edited by Mark Evans
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Hello all,


Several have used the word "passion" and others have given examples of their own.


This is a thing about concertinas....some people do seem to "fall in love" with them.


I'm guilty myself of course.


These passions aren't logical and can lead to irrational thoughts -- both of the positive, daydreaming type (and maybe these will lead us to "put foundations under our castles in the air") and maybe sometimes of a negative type, including blaming others for our failure to have what we want.


Although personally I would make a lot of sacrifices to go beyond the instruments that satisfy Ahskettle and Relcollect, their general philosophy that you can make great music with “the concertina you have” is what I like to hear.


I think Bono told the joke about the one guy who looked up at a fine house on a hill and said, "Some day I want to live in a place like that," and the other guy looking up at the same house, who said "Some day I'm going to get that @$%#&*."


Maybe neither of them will suceed but the first point of view seems more productive of progress and personal happiness.


One very unusual thing about concertinas, at least in the US, is that there is vanishingly small support of the instrument and its professionals (performers, makers, repairmen, teachers) from the culture at large. It sometimes seems as though the only people who listen much to concertina music in this country, or who spend any money on it, are those who play. There just is not the huge influx of money that helps support the traditions surrounding the guitar, keyboards, DJ equipment (;-), etc. Newcomers to the concertina often find it refreshing to encounter such an intimate, and mostly amateur, musical world.


A lot has been written in this site about the joys of amateur music making, and I agree with all of those comments! I have spent much of my time with the concertina teaching, that is helping people learn to teach themselves, to play solely for their own enjoyment. But another side to the story deserves airing.


Even among those with many interests in common, like families, there will always be conflicts, and perhaps the very limited circulation of “concertina capital” that I have noted above intensifies some conflicts between the interests of the pros and of the amateurs. In this country (the US) the same bar that pays out for a pro jazz band on Thursday, a pro rock band on Friday, and a pro country band on Saturday might offer a “free beer session” for amateur traditional musicians on a Sunday, where no musicians are paid. This can provide a valuable and rightly-cherished opportunity for an amateur concertina player, but on the other hand it can mean a lost opportunity for a gig (maybe as a “session anchor”) for a pro concertina player, and can foster a view among the public that traditional music is all of an “amateur night” quality. See Joe Derrane’s interview in the last issue of “Concertina and Squeezebox” for a rare case of an excellent musician willing to comment publicly on this last aspect of this problem. I have learned to sympathize with all sides here (even the bar owners), but I have heard frequent complaints, off-the-record (and mostly from excellent Irish traditional players, going well beyond the concertina), that the dominance of amateurs can hurt the quality of music performed and enjoyed, and the chance for someone to make his living performing. Similar complaints can be found in the history of all types of music and instruments, and even in the history of many other professions. At least in England, it seems that many pro concertinists were supported in the instruments’ heyday –- allowing some players of truly astonishing accomplishment, and the great quality of the fine antique instruments, to develop. And – back to the start of this discussion -- I’m sure that many of them had several instruments.


I'm not saying that either the pros or the amateurs are "right" or "wrong" here, only that there is a conflict of interest that needs mediation and understanding on both sides to find the more important COMMON interests and so to keep peace in the "concertina family." I think the same goes for the issue of "hoarding" vs price.


If my airchair analysis has any value (and the economists or others may find me wrong here), this situation places a special burden on all of us (players) to support the instrument and its professionals who do so much to keep the tradition alive – who make or repair our instruments, who teach our children, and whose brilliant music inspires us (and may some day again make waves in the general culture). Those who have made a committment to a professional involvement with the concertina or to becoming the caretakers of a few (or more) instruments are often those who have the most to offer to the new players of today and of the future. We need to thank them, learn from them, and help them in their work, because the royalties from MTV are not paying their bills!


Stephen, as usual, makes this point so well. I'll second his thanks to Neil Wayne, and add my thanks to Stephen himself, and all who have spent so much of their lives contributing to the future of the concertina.



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I'm confused now. You seem to have two lines of argument blurred into one. 1) People with lots of concertinas are responsible for the price of good instruments going up; 2) My cheap (insert own value for "cheap" here) instrument is plenty good enough for me, I don't need to pay more, so I won't buy a more expensive concertina.


I don't think I made myself clear....in fact, I'm sure. Yes, I think that hoarders help drive prices higher, as do "professional" players. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with that ! You just have to know whether you can run with the big dogs or not. I can't, I don't, no sale...if enough people feel the same, eventually the market will stratify into junk, and overpriced nice pieces.... IMHO!

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