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Crabb Paper label and typeface

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I recently purchased a Crabb 20k C/G Anglo at auction. it comes without any external labels for the Maker or the ID number, although it is stamped inside Crabb and Son, Makers, London and ID numbers in the usual places. I need a couple of things

1. Does anyone know what typeface was used to print the numbers on their paper labels (or the nearest equivalent on a PC)?

2. Does anyone have a picture, .jpg or similar of the paper label that would go in the vacant cartouche on the right hand side?

I would appreciate answers to both questions. I can copy the labels off my metal ended instrument if they are the same.

Otherwise it is in excellent shape, but in need of tuning.

Many Thanks,


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Thanks chaps for your knowledge and wisdom,. However, there is no metal label on this wooden ended concertina and no holes for rivets or screws nor any glue residue on the outer face of the fretwork, but, there is evidence of a paper label having been stuck behind the fretwork on the RHS. I suppose this could be a dealer or retailer stamp. It is definitely stamped on the reed pans, Crabb and Son, Maker, London. The number too is odd, it comes from an unused sequence according to Geoffrey Crabb's dating lists, and would be far earlier than the fitted Aluminium shoed reeds this one has. I have emailed Geoffrey about this.

MIke, if you wish you are welcome to come to my place, or I could come to yours for a more in-depth examination if you so desire.

Mike, Did I see you at Thaxted yesterday? I was about to dance and thought I saw you in the crowd up at the Windmill, but couldn't find you when we finished.


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Hi Wes

Thanks, I had thought of this, but the rivetted action is not Lachenal or much like Wheatstone and not very much like Jones either, and the fretwork looks exactly the same as another Crabb 20k I've seen, much better cut than any Lachenal with the terminal scrolls in the fretwork pointed, not rounded. The general build quality is much better too.

The Bellows are five fold leather with black papers, not the usual cross and dot, and are in excellent fettle and look to be original. Who would put black papers on the bellows of their cheapest instruments? Crab and Wheatstone come to mind.

The palm rests most closely resemble those on the 20k Wheatstones and are nothing like Lachenal or Jones.

The number inside, 9231, is definitely not a Lachenal (it would need to be built somewhere in the 1860's, its much too refined a build too) or Wheatstone sequence or  number type (I believe they were not building Anglos in 1856 when it looks like this number was used ). and the number type is not Jones, nor is the fretwork. All in all its looks quite modern in build, not vintage, possibly 30's or 40's, even 50's. According to Geoffrey Crabb's  dating sheet 9231 would be 1936, which is about right.

Another indicator of more recent build is the round topped moulded plastic buttons in the vintage style and nothing like the erinoid buttons Lachenal used (I've changed lots of those for bone as i don't like the feel of erinoid). the nearest likeness i can think of is the plastic buttons used on May Fair Wheatstone's (and I'm 100% certain its not one of those).

Lastly, if someone was having their concertina serviced or repaired by Crabb would they have paid out for a full set of new steel tongues in Aluminium shoes (which all seem to be about 1/4 tone sharp of the note stamped on the reed), surely it would have been more economical to change a few where necessary and retune the rest.

So, The experts agree, I don't have a Crabb,  and I'm certain its not Lachenal, Jones or Wheatstone (although perhaps the comments above may revise that opinion), and I don't believe it to be a Norman, Dipper, or any of the more recent makers, so what is it? A well made instrument of better quality than the norm (I've had lots of the cheap 20k vintage boxes and spent lots of time getting them playing again) which requires very little work to make it sing again.

Another thought is that Crabb made an excess of components and at some time e.g. prewar, someone came to the shop wanting a cheap 20k instrument to take abroad with them. Having nothing in stock they put together very quickly a complete instrument and gave it the first number they knew was vacant.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions. I'll put this debate/quandry to one side and try thinking of other possibilities.

I think I'll take it to Halsway in March and let a few there have a look, unless someone wants to visit and examine sooner.



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I'll see what I can do for pictures but I think i've used up my allocation of space. I have the photos and can easily attach them later. In the meantime, searching the web last night I came across an identical instrument, badged Crabb, on the Squeezebox marketplace website, https://www.squeezeboxmarketplace.com/concertina/anglo-concertina/Anglo-Concertina-CG-20-key-by-Crabb   The diameter of the end bolts looks the same, the brass knurled small strap bolts look the same and the fretwork is the same design down to the pointed ends of the fretting, the size and shape of the cartouche hole for the label, it even mentions the aluminium shoes for the reeds in their legend and it has no labels. I'd like to know what number it has inside (and how far degraded the Aluminium is, as it does tend to oxidise fairly easily). It certainly gives me hope that my original ID was correct.


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On 9/1/2021 at 9:33 AM, Mike Jones said:

... searching the web last night I came across an identical instrument, badged Crabb, on the Squeezebox marketplace website, https://www.squeezeboxmarketplace.com/concertina/anglo-concertina/Anglo-Concertina-CG-20-key-by-Crabb  


Like I often say "a picture tells a thousand words" - and answers a lot of questions!



The number inside, 9231 ...  According to Geoffrey Crabb's  dating sheet 9231 would be 1936, which is about right.


And, now that you've provided a picture of one the same as yours, I can confirm that 1936 is indeed "about right".


These were made by Harry Crabb after the closure of Lachenal's, and when (to quote from my paper Louis Lachenal: “Engineer and Concertina Manufacturer”)


"... according to [Neil] Wayne, "on the closure of Lachenals, their last manager, Mr. Sanders, work[ed] for Crabb," while Tommy Williams  recalled that the other partner, Ballinger, "turned over all the Salvation Army orders to Harry Crabb, whose father was dead then, rather than let Wheatstone's have it." 


So basically, these were initially made by Harry Crabb to fulfil Lachenal orders after the firm closed down, at the behest of Ballinger and with the assistance of Sanders, but without the benefit of Lachenal's machinery and tooling (which Wheatstone's had bought at auction) - so that (for example) the fretwork was cut by hand with a fretsaw, rather than by a pattern-following rotary spindle cutter, and hence the more "pointy" design you mention.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Thanks for that information. I have read your paper, but it was some time ago, and it had gone from my memory. Perhaps the concertinas that were made as a result of the donation were given numbers outside the routine and general ID allocation by Crabb. This might account for why Geoffrey has listed them as "unallocated" in his dating sheet.

I'm interested in knowing the ID number of the instrument being sold by Squeezebox Marketplace. Also, I was talking with Dave Robertson today and he thinks he knows where there is another and who owns it.



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