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Paul Woloschuk

Jeffries end stamps and the reversed 'N'

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On my Jeffries Duet, there is a rather crudely executed stamp on the left end plate beneath the hand rest as follows.... "New Address 12 Aldershot.Road Kilburn.N.W.6"

What is interesting, and is something which has been mentioned elsewhere on this forum, is that the letter 'N' is reversed throughout the wording.

For years, I had simply thought that the reversed 'N' was the result of somebody using a incorrectly-made metal die, although that's difficult to visualise happening.

 

Moving on many years. I was out walking through the park of a local stately home recently, when I noticed an old stone bridge that had an inscription on it (The large house had been used as a VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachment] military hospital during WW1). The inscription had, I assume, been made by a WW1 soldier at the hospital.

The inscription read, "Pte. W.L. 24/4/17 27th BAttn. CANADIANS.' (see photograph).

On every occasion, the 'N' was inscribed reversed.

This set me thinking that the stamp on my concertina might not have been an error after all.

 

I have found reference online saying that a reversed capital letter N is common on gravestones dating from the 18th century, and was still occasionally used even up to the early part of the 20th century.  Pte W.L. was writing the inscription in his usual way.

 

But why was the N reversed?

 

Here's my theory!

 

If you look at a lower case n, and consider how you would write it, you would usually start with a downward stroke, then up (tracing over the downward stroke), before moving the pen towards the right in a curve, and then down - ' n ' .
It is easy to see how, if you were to straighten out those movements into three straight lines, you will end up with a reversed N.

Down.... upwards towards the right..... and down again.

 

So, if this reversed N was an early version of the letter, if you were to write it in lower case, one would smooth out the straight lines, and so you get  ' n ' .

 

Maybe the 'reversed' capital N was the original way to present the letter 'N'?

 

 

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Edited by Paul Woloschuk

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Interesting thought Paul. There is an earlier form of the lower case n in early Latin Italic script which was effectively a reverse of the capital letter, and earlier written or carved scripts have a similar "letter". Whether it was still in use in the 1800s is debateable. When teaching primary school kids to write, I often saw various letters written in reverse, so maybe it is more likely a mistake when the letter stamp was being made (and by the Canadian soldier). A faulty letter punch might have been used once or twice then discarded when the error was spotted, resulting in just a few examples of the reversal.

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I am going to go with...

 

RUSSIANS!

 

conspiracy theory 1.  The reds infiltrated Jeffries..

 

conspiracy theory 2  they were commies or red sympathizers?


 

 

 

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I am with Milesy,  irrespective of the person "stamping" the metal's literacy/competency, the issue looks to be  down to the 'stamp' rather than the stamper ? 

 

There are 'reverse' 'letter/number' stamps available now - there may well have been then, so not so much 'faulty' per se and a muddle may have occurred  at the Suppliers in packaging the letter set or on the Bench.

 

Either way, it is a nice "archaic" touch.

 

 

 

 

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I find Paul's explanation convincing. These things happen. Just like "Ye" as in "Ye Olde Sweete Shoppe" never existed. The word is "The" but the "th" sound was represented by the runic symbol for "thorn" which was a twig with a thorn sticking out of it. Unfortunately it looked rather like a manuscript "Y" and was therefore mistaken for it.

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38 minutes ago, Sprunghub said:

I am with Milesy,  irrespective of the person "stamping" the metal's literacy/competency, the issue looks to be  down to the 'stamp' rather than the stamper ? 

 

There are 'reverse' 'letter/number' stamps available now - there may well have been then, so not so much 'faulty' per se and a muddle may have occurred  at the Suppliers in packaging the letter set or on the Bench.

 

Either way, it is a nice "archaic" touch.

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure that Jeffries Bros, with their reputation for producing quality instruments, would accept defective die stamps.

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I think - irrespective of Jeffries reputation - that "this" particular indent was made with a letter stamp ( as were all the others judging by the slightly different indent depths?) not a series of individual strokes ( unless, of course it is engraved ? )  If it is a stamp, then "it", not the user's use of it is reversed whatever the explanation on the day it was done?

 

 A reverse (image) stamp cannot be made to leave a 'correct' indent.  They could have  'over' stamped it at the risk of making a bit of a mess or discard the end having done it ?

 

A reverse stamp would not be "defective", it would be 'fit for purpose', just not necessarily that purpose! 

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Isn't the most likely explanation that an inexperienced die make, perhaps an apprentice, made a mistake and cut the die in the form of a standard N when it should have been a mirror image?

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14 hours ago, Paul Woloschuk said:

Maybe the 'reversed' capital N was the original way to present the letter 'N'?

 

The Romans were doing it the 'usual' way in the second century:

column3.jpg

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1 hour ago, Sprunghub said:

I think - irrespective of Jeffries reputation - that "this" particular indent was made with a letter stamp ( as were all the others judging by the slightly different indent depths?) not a series of individual strokes ( unless, of course it is engraved ? )  If it is a stamp, then "it", not the user's use of it is reversed whatever the explanation on the day it was done?

 

The text looks to me to have been stamped with a series of individual letter punches, not a single die (as the spacing and alignment are quite sloppy). Reverse letter punches are unusual but not unheard of, for example you can use them to create a wax seal or a metal stamp for marking wood. My guess is Jeffries broke or lost their conventional N punch and instead of replacing it with a matching one they borrowed one from a reverse set.

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This is on the front wall of a house not far from me. I thought the reversed N strange when advertising himself as a mason.

9A490C6C-ACDF-4BBD-A55F-E92671AF2749.png

Edited by MartinW

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9 hours ago, Little John said:

I find Paul's explanation convincing. These things happen. Just like "Ye" as in "Ye Olde Sweete Shoppe" never existed. The word is "The" but the "th" sound was represented by the runic symbol for "thorn" which was a twig with a thorn sticking out of it. Unfortunately it looked rather like a manuscript "Y" and was therefore mistaken for it.

 

I believe this substitution arose because printers didn't have the "thorn" character and used "Y" because it was the closest match.  

 

The confusion continues to the present day.  When John Offord was re-printing his classic tune collection "John of the Greeny Cheshire Way" he discovered on looking more closely at the original music that there was a tiny "e" next to the letter "Y", so it should actually be "John of the Green, ye Cheshire Way".  Which makes a lot more sense, but is a bit dull. I prefer his original interpretation.

 

Reversed letters seem to have been commonplace on gravestones in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries but no one seems sure why.  Poor education may be an explanation, you would expect skilled masons to know the correct shapes of letters, but you only have to look at the mistakes made by modern sighwriters to realise this might not be the case.  It seems strange that this would still occur at the time Jeffries was making concertinas and it seems likely to me that this was deliberate.  I think the OP is onto something when he compares it with the way a lower-case 'n' is formed, and perhaps this was a stylistic convention with masons and engravers? 

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17 hours ago, hjcjones said:

 

I believe this substitution arose because printers didn't have the "thorn" character and used "Y" because it was the closest match.  

 

The confusion continues to the present day.  When John Offord was re-printing his classic tune collection "John of the Greeny Cheshire Way" he discovered on looking more closely at the original music that there was a tiny "e" next to the letter "Y", so it should actually be "John of the Green, ye Cheshire Way".  Which makes a lot more sense, but is a bit dull. I prefer his original interpretation.

 

Reversed letters seem to have been commonplace on gravestones in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries but no one seems sure why.  Poor education may be an explanation, you would expect skilled masons to know the correct shapes of letters, but you only have to look at the mistakes made by modern sighwriters to realise this might not be the case.  It seems strange that this would still occur at the time Jeffries was making concertinas and it seems likely to me that this was deliberate.  I think the OP is onto something when he compares it with the way a lower-case 'n' is formed, and perhaps this was a stylistic convention with masons and engravers? 

 

[SIC] ?

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On 9/30/2020 at 10:56 AM, seanc said:

I am going to go with...

 

RUSSIANS!

 

conspiracy theory 1.  The reds infiltrated Jeffries..

 

conspiracy theory 2  they were commies or red sympathizers?


 

 

 

It wasn’t Reds under the Beds, it was reeds...

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On 9/30/2020 at 7:52 PM, hjcjones said:

When John Offord was re-printing his classic tune collection "John of the Greeny Cheshire Way" he discovered on looking more closely at the original music that there was a tiny "e" next to the letter "Y", so it should actually be "John of the Green, ye Cheshire Way".

 

Thanks. I'd forgotten that story. I have the reprinted version with "THE" on the cover and the original manuscript reproduced inside (from which one can easily see how the confusion would have arisen).

 

This thread reminds me that my old piano teacher consistently wrote capital F in reverse. Not unlike how we were taught to write script Fs longhand except in a block capital style rather than the florid style of longhand. (Brush Script MT is the nearest type face I can find but I can't paste it here.)

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2 hours ago, Little John said:

 

This thread reminds me that my old piano teacher consistently wrote capital F in reverse. Not unlike how we were taught to write script Fs longhand except in a block capital style rather than the florid style of longhand. (Brush Script MT is the nearest type face I can find but I can't paste it here.)

 

I had to look it up, but I note that the Brush Script capital N also resembles how we now form the lower-case 'n' and so appears 'backwards'  These styles of writing have long fallen out of fashion, and we forget how many different ways there are to form letters, especially now we do eveything at a computer using modern fonts by default.  When I was at school in the 1960s I was taught to make a lower-case 'z' with a looping tail, so it looked almost like a 3 or the Old English 'yogh'. It was probably old-fashioned even then, but my teacher was quite elderly.

 

I am more and more convinced that the stamp on the OP's concertina is not an error but a now obsolete style.

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2 hours ago, hjcjones said:

When I was at school in the 1960s I was taught to make a lower-case 'z' with a looping tail ...

 

So was I!

 

2 hours ago, hjcjones said:

I am more and more convinced that the stamp on the OP's concertina is not an error but a now obsolete style.

 

Me too.

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Posted (edited)

During the early 1920s, Charles JeffriesJnr established his own concertina making business at 12 Aldershot Road, Kilburn, North London, which had already been his residence for two decades. We have not been able to pinpoint the exact time when Charles Jnr set up shop in his home. The London directories list 12 Aldershot Road as his residence, but not as a commercial address. Perhaps it was the death of his mother that served as the catalyst for the relocation. We have no indication that he left earlier. Of the concertinas stamped or inscribed with both a date and 12 Aldershot Road, we have not seen a single instrument with a date earlier than in the 1920s.

Some of the instruments show that, initially at least, Charles, Jnr was producing instruments with care and with carefully engraved florid

ovals. Later instruments are easy to recognise from the hammer- stamped block capitals, with a characteristic reversed letter ”И” (that is, a reverse “N” of sorts), as shown in Fig. 44. Charles Jeffries Jnr also seems to have put this stamping on second-hand concertinas from earlier Jeffries periods. Two 39-key Anglos (one of which is at the Horniman Museum) contain internal stampings of “33” and “34”; these may be serial numbers.

Merris_Jeffries_II_Fig_44-300x56.jpg Fig. 44. C.Jeffries, 12 Aldershot Road, Kilburn stamp with reverse letter ”И”

Charles Jeffries Jnr may have taken some of the Praed Street tools and inventory with him when he moved his work to Aldershot Road. Dual stampings appear on some of his concertinas—i.e., instruments stamped with “12 ALDERSHOT ROAD, KILBURN, N.W. 6,” as well as “C. Jeffries, Maker” or “Jeffries Bros.” However, the explanation simply may be that his Aldershot Road stamping was added to Jeffries instruments that he acquired in the second-hand market.

Edited by Sprunghub

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