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Dating Anglos 50001 – 55491


Flip Delport
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Until now, I’ve used Robert Gaskins’s approximate dates as shown in the following table to date Anglos that I list in South Africa.

 

50001 - 51134 1937-1939

51135 - 51432 1940-1941

51433 - 52216 1946-1947

52217 - 53688 1948-1950

53700 - 54449 1951

54450 - 55491 1952

 

I have recently discovered no 53120, a 30 key black Anglo with Nickel Plated ends and metal capped buttons (4 A) with a very clear inscription on the inside - “19/04/1947”. If that inscription indicates the manufacturing date, I have to conclude that all the numbers before 53120 should be dated back to 1947 or before that.

Edited by Flip Delport
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If that inscription indicates the manufacturing date, I have to conclude that all the numbers before 53120 should be dated back to 1947 or before that.

Flip,

 

It's an interesting find, but hard to say just what the date signifies. Writing dates of manufacture inside certainly wasn't normal practice at Wheatstone's, though owners have been known to write the date of purchase there, usually along with their name, and maybe address.

 

On the other hand, we can be pretty sure that the compiler of the list Bob has used was Harry Minting, the last Sales Manager of C. Wheatstone & Co., and the man everybody used to ask to date their Wheatstone instruments. He seems to have taken those dates from a ledger that was still in existence at the time. (It was Harry who saved the surviving ledgers from the bonfire at Boosey & Hawkes, but it seems he didn't manage to get all of them.)

 

Also, the surviving ledgers show that only in the 1865-91 period (under Edward Chidley snr.) were instruments numbered serially in date order. Otherwise, numbers can vary considerably in relation to date of completion, or sale, sometimes to a bewildering extent, so I fear you may be concluding too much from this one date. I would certainly be inclined to accept Harry's dates as being more indicative of the general trend, whilst accepting that errant numbers/dates are entirely possible.

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If that inscription indicates the manufacturing date, I have to conclude that all the numbers before 53120 should be dated back to 1947 or before that.

...only in the 1865-91 period ... were instruments numbered serially in date order. Otherwise, numbers can vary considerably in relation to date of completion, or sale, sometimes to a bewildering extent, so I fear you may be concluding too much from this one date. I would certainly be inclined to accept Harry's dates as being more indicative of the general trend, whilst accepting that errant numbers/dates are entirely possible.

If the date in the instrument were after that from Harry's table, there would be no problem, but it's more like 2 years before.

 

If we accept that date as a true and honest one, it suggests that #53120 could not have been built after 19/04/1947, though the table suggests a date somewhere in 1949. So unless there was a particular reason for leaving a large gap (about 1000 numbers) in the sequence when assigning its serial number, it would seem to suggest that Harry's guide is not as precise as is generally assumed. I understand that "special" numbers -- e.g., ones ending in 00 -- were sometimes selected out of sequence for special instruments, but in this case neither the number nor the instrument appears to warrant such unusual treatment.

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I seem to remember a couple of cases in which it appeared that Wheatstone anglos made earlier, and originally assigned lower numbers, were renumbered with numbers in the 50,000s when repaired and/or resold at Wheatstones during the same period in which most of the 50,000 series anglos were being made. I will edit this post to give a reference for that occurrence if I can find one.

 

Edited to add:

 

Ah yes, one reference is the the article by Mr. Gaskins on this site. He mentions this interpretation for the ledger notes relative to # 31742.

 

So maybe some searching in the ledgers, starting around 1947 (but possibly earlier, maybe informed by the constructional features of the concertina e.g. type of reeds, action, endplates, etc.) will turn up a lower numbered anglo with a notation that the instrument was later re-numbered to 53120.

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff
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I seem to remember a couple of cases in which it appeared that Wheatstone anglos made earlier, and originally assigned lower numbers,  were renumbered with numbers in the 50,000s when repaired and/or resold at Wheatstones during the same period in which most of the 50,000 series anglos were being made.

Indeed so Paul, in fact you have just beaten me to saying it !

 

But not just in the 50000 series, I have come across such entries in previous ledgers too.

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Well, it looks like there's very little in the available published ledgers from 1947 (some on pp. 44-45 of SD03).

 

Still, depending on the features of the instrument (does it have an original riveted action? traditional reeds in brass shoes? etc.) there may possible be evidence in the instrument that it was made earlier than the 1950s or even than the 1940s, and if so maybe it once had a much earlier number as in the case of #31742. This is of course only one possibility and the point that Stephen made about non-sequential numbers must also be kept in mind. However I would agree with Jim that an obvious date inside a concertina would usually be considered evidence that the instrument was made before that date (sometimes long before).

 

What is the internal construction of the tina like, Flip? To approximately when would you date it if there was no number at all?

 

Paul

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20973, 2nd September 1889, "Altered to 21161" (10th December 1890).

And on the very next page are :

 

21186, (originally 20819)

21187, (originally 20823)

21200, converted to 21399

21201, converted to 21400

 

So you can see that it really wasn't uncommon !

Nor, in the later ledgers, was it particularly common. There can be runs of several hundred serial numbers with no indication of alterations, either with or without new serial numbers. My impression from the ledgers so far on line is that conversions of various sorts were more commonly made without assigning a new serial number, and that new serial numbers tended to be separated by several years from the original and -- I suspect -- implied a major rebuild.

 

Here are a few examples of alterations not changing numbers:

.. 30043 (Feb. 1924) - "New Action 30/11/36 Free Lever"

.. 31800 (Feb. 1928) - rosewood ends replaced by nickel plate

.. 31902 (July 1928) - 54 keys altered to 56

.. 32054 (Mar. 1929) - nickel plate ends changed to "black"

.. 32159 (May 1929) - 24 keys altered to 31 keys

.. 32226 (May 1929) - this one doesn't even say "altered"; it just has "rosewood" overwritten with "N.P." (nickel plate); so maybe that change was made before construction was completed?

 

On the other hand, we have:

.. 25170 (Dec. 1910) - "altered to 25643"

..... 25643 (July 1912) - "altered from 25170" (no significant change in the description)

.. 32253 (Nov. 1929) - "NEW 1939 FEB. 35155"

..... 35155 (Feb. 1939) - "rec 32253" (no significant change in the description)

.. 32715 (July 1931) - "Re-con 36324"

..... 36324 (Sept. 1956) - "Re-con 32715" (changed? see the following)

 

That last one is particularly interesting, because I own it... and there are some discrepancies. The 36324 entry says 88 ieys and "Black Dural", but it's really 81 buttons (including the air button, which Wheatstone included in the count on their duets), and the only aluminum I can find is the frames of a few of the largest reeds. Intended alterations that were abandoned?

 

Another thing to note is that the serial numbers inside and out are all 32715, the earlier number. I was going to use this to suggest that such "reconditioned" instruments might be given new serial numbers in the ledgers, but not on the instruments themselves. Having noticed the other discrepancies between the later ledger entry and the instrument itself, that seems less certain. Perhaps the serial number is another intended change that never happened? What is clear is that the instrument in its original (81-button) form has been restored to brand-new condition, with all wood and leather looking freshly cut and only the dull surface of the brass reed frames hinting at a prior life. And the story from the widow of the former owner is that this instrument was in pieces on a shelf when her husband visited Wheatstone in London in the 1950's (apparently 1956).

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We have No 34254 which has had it its number changed (I haven't got the other to hand at the moment). It is a wooden ended 48 key Aeola with 'small frets' which seems to mean a band of frets round the end, but not extending to the edge which seems to have been the normal way by the 1930's. This seems to have been a case of two instruments exchanging numbers.

 

Nick

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So you can see that it really wasn't uncommon !

Nor, in the later ledgers, was it particularly common.

Actually, the most consistent thing about the ledgers seems to be their inconsistency. Some practices seem standard in a given period, but vary over time. But even in a particular period, a given feature of one instrument may be noted in the ledger, while the same feature of an identical instrument is not, yet major differences may be unnoted.

 

The Pitt-Taylor duet I have, #30030, is an example of the latter. It has a unique keyboard layout, extra (but blank) label inserts, and even special "glove" attachments for holding it, but in the ledger it is given a Maccann duet model number (40) and simply described as "octo black 72 keys Special". Yet what I presume is an earlier Pitt-Taylor system (he created more than one design), #25619, is described as "Duet Sqr PT. fingering 84 keys" (I interpret this as square, with Pitt-Taylor layout), with no model number.

 

So from many similar entries we may be able to note some general trends in the way the ledgers were maintained, but it's dangerous to conclude any rule from one or a few examples, especially if the few show inconsistencies.

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Without the inscription of the date, I would rely on Mr. Gaskins's approximate date -  that would be 1949.

Ah, but that's my main point, it isn't "Mr. Gaskins's approximate date" (my emphasis), but rather Wheatstone's approximate date which Bob Gaskins is quoting, seeing that the information came from Wheatstone's Sales Manager, Harry Minting.

 

I knew Harry, having first met him at musical instrument auctions in London, and got to know him better as a result of being the purchaser of various historical items (from Wheatstone's) that he put into auction over the years. (My avatar, the first concertina, was one of them !) I used to visit him, at his home in West Wickham.

 

He had a great love for the Wheatstone firm, which he had been associated with since his teenage years in the 1920's (he played on their stand at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 and 1925 held at Wembley, London), and its history. I think he was heartbroken when Wheatstone's was absorbed into the Boosey & Hawkes factory in late 1961, and he was forced to leave (they no longer required a Sales Manager, and offered him a job as a ledger clerk). However, he did manage to save many of the early records of the firm (now at the Horniman), along with some precious Giulio Regondi manuscripts, and portraits of Regondi and Richard Blagrove (all of which I now have), and to purchase some of the Wheatstone Collection of early instruments (some of which I now have).

 

I believe that he probably compiled the serial number list in question, in 1961, from a ledger that he knew he would no longer have access to, and which is now lost.

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...the information came from Wheatstone's Sales Manager, Harry Minting.

 

I believe that he probably compiled the serial number list in question, in 1961, from a ledger that he knew he would no longer have access to, and which is now lost.

I don't question the source of Harry Minting's dates, but I do wonder if we may not be interpreting their significance incorrectly. I'm about to start another Topic relating to that, since my speculation was triggered by serial numbers before 50000.

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... in the later ledgers ... There can be runs of several hundred serial  numbers with no indication of alterations, either with or without new serial numbers.

 

But as I said :

... numbers can vary considerably in relation to date of completion, or sale, sometimes to a bewildering extent ... errant numbers/dates are entirely possible.

And examination of the dates in the surviving ledger covering the wartime and post-war era (SD03), a confused and confusing time generally, reveals wildly varying dates on a page :

 

Page 38 - 1940-42

Page 39 - 1940-48

Page 40 - 1941-48

Page 41 - 1942

Page 42 - 1942-43

Page 43 - 1942-57

Page 44 - 1942-48

Page 45 - 1943-58

Page 46 - 1948-50

Page 47 - 1948-51

Page 48 - 1948-54

Page 49 - 1947-57

Page 50 - 1948-59

Page 51 - 1948-53

Page 52 - 1949-51

 

Page 49 being especially interesting, showing an earlier 1947 date seemingly completely out of sequence, the previous three pages dating from 1948 (also the two following) and with all the other dates on that page in the mid 1950's.

 

Whilst page 41 shows 35383 to be "old stock (91)" in 1942, page 42 lists 35406 as an "old tuning instrument" in 1942, and page 44 shows a batch of 9 refurbished second-hand instruments given the numbers 35442-50 in 1942-3.

 

I'm sticking to my initial statement :

I would certainly be inclined to accept Harry's dates as being more indicative of the general trend, whilst accepting that errant numbers/dates are entirely possible.

 

And I certainly don't consider it safe to ...

... conclude that all the numbers before 53120 should be dated back to 1947 or before that.

 

Production in the 1940's would have been very fraught, with shortages of materials, and skilled staff, not forgetting people were short of money and taxes were high. It would not have been possible to make, or finish, many instruments, and perhaps numbers were allocated for some that could not be completed and/or sold for years to come.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Please let me refer you to a document written by Mr. Gaskins on 23 June 2001 at http://www.concertina.info/tina.faq/conc-ap1a.htm An extract from that document states:

“On the train back from Stowmarket to London, I quickly noted down the APPROXIMATE years of various serial-ranges. (The dates are actually intermixed at year-breaks, as throughout all the ledgers, so it is NOT possible from this table to positively assign an instrument to a definite year--and my assignment of breaks is not necessarily any better than that of the manuscript note.) I added at the top the dates from the manuscript note, to give myself a complete list, though very rough:

1937-39: 50001-51134 [use manuscript note for 1937-1952]

1940-41: 51135-51432

1946-47: 51433-52216

1948-50: 52217-53688 [53689 - 53699 missing?]

1951: 53700-54449

1952: 54450-55338

1953: 55339-56448 [55339-56390 note; 55492-56448 ledger]”

 

I have dated concertinas on my list according to these APPROXIMATE dates. It seems not to be as accurate as I’ve hoped for. I believe that this discovery will bring all of us closer to more accurate dating.

 

The concertina in question was inherited by Dr. Louis Adendorff, a well respected citizen, from his late father. Dr. Adendorff assured me that his father told him that he bought the concertina one year before Dr. Adendorff’s birth, being in 1948. I do not have any reason to doubt these facts. In short: Concertina nr 53120 was in the possession of the Adendorff family in South Africa in 1947 and never left South Africa.

 

Numbers were changed when instruments were returned for repairs. It did not happen in this case. I am not convinced that the changing of numbers as applied in the 1890’s, can be offered as a solution in this instance.

 

The receipt offered as evidence of accuracy of Mr. Minting's list dates back to 1941. It proves that concertina 51406 was sold on 26th September 1941. It does not prove the accuracy of Mr. Minting’s list. It would have been helpful to have something similar for 1947.

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Please let me refer you to a document written by Mr. Gaskins on 23 June 2001 at http://www.concertina.info/tina.faq/conc-ap1a.htm    An extract from that document states:

“On the train back from Stowmarket to London, I quickly noted down the APPROXIMATE years of various serial-ranges. (The dates are actually intermixed at year-breaks, as throughout all the ledgers, so it is NOT possible from this table to positively assign an instrument to a definite year--and my assignment of breaks is not necessarily any better than that of the manuscript note.) I added at the top the dates from the manuscript note, to give myself a complete list, though very rough:

1937-39: 50001-51134       [use manuscript note for 1937-1952]

1940-41: 51135-51432

1946-47: 51433-52216

1948-50: 52217-53688       [53689 - 53699 missing?]

  1951:    53700-54449

  1952:    54450-55338

  1953:    55339-56448       [55339-56390 note; 55492-56448 ledger]”

Yes, but it also says :

 

The first thing about these Anglos that I ran across was a single sheet of paper in Neil Wayne's voluminous archives at the Horniman Museum; this is actually a copy made on an old manual typewriter, which has typed upon it a rough table of the dates of concertinas from the 1-35000 sequence, similar to the usual "Nigel Pickles" list. And then hand-written at the bottom of the sheet someone has added a semi-legible table as follows:

 

 

-----

 

ANGLOS

 

50001 - 51134 1937-1939 A

51135 - 51432 1940-1941 A

51433 - 52216 1946-1947 C

52217 - 53688 1948-1950

53700 - 54449 1951 A = West Street

54450 - 55338 1952 B B = Ives Street

55339 - 56390 1953 C = [blank in original]

56391 - 57084 1954 D = Duncan Terrace from 9AP 1959

57085 - 57502 1955

57503 - 57797 1956

57798 - 58084 1957

58085 - 58387 1958/9

58388 - 58485 1960 D

 

-----

 

[note 53689 - 53699 missing]

 

Nearby in the archives is another sheet of paper on which this list had been retyped using a very good electric typewriter, but with a misleading heading and with some typos. Between the dim manuscript note and the clear but untrustworthy retyping, I arrived at the table above. Since this manuscript table ends with 1960, it might have been written about that time.

 

Neither sheet has yet been catalogued at the Horniman, but these appear to constitute item number C1045 in Neil Wayne's finding list to his archives, which is described as "C1045. A copy of a complete dating list for Wheatstone Concertinas, compiled by Henry Minting. All numbers from 1 - 58485 are covered, with approximate dates of manufacture." ("The Concertina Museum, Archives", page 40.) Other evidence (below) allows us to confirm that the concertina #58485 was indeed made at the very end of 1960, and the list has other plausibilities. Given Neil Wayne's attribution of the list to Henry Minting, who was the last manager of the independent Wheatstone & Co. and had access to all its records, there is every reason to take the note seriously.

 

 

I have dated concertinas on my list according to these APPROXIMATE dates.  It seems not to be as accurate as I’ve hoped for. I believe that this discovery will bring all of us closer to more accurate dating.

 

The concertina in question was inherited by Dr. Louis Adendorff, a well respected citizen, from his late father.  Dr. Adendorff assured me that his father told him that he bought the concertina one year before Dr. Adendorff’s birth, being in 1948.  I do not have any reason to doubt these facts.  In short: Concertina nr 53120 was in the possession of the Adendorff family in South Africa in 1947 and never left South Africa.

Now that you have provided further information about the provenance of the instrument, I do not doubt the date written inside it. But if you take a look at the surviving ledger covering that period, SD03 (online here), which I have referred to, you will see that the dates are extremely jumbled, with a 1947 entry (#35566) appearing after 8 pages that include ones from 1948-58. Unfortunately, any dating guide can only show the general trend, only the (now lost) ledger can give an accurate date for an individual concertina, especially during such a confused/confusing era as the 1940's.

 

 

Numbers were changed when instruments were returned for repairs.

It would be more my impression that it was done when instruments were completed, or refurbished, to be sold at a later date.

 

 

I am not convinced that the changing of numbers as applied in the 1890’s, can be offered as a solution in this instance.

I only cited those because I stumbled across them whilst dating an 1889 baritone for somebody yesterday evening (I don't spend all my life reading the ledgers ;) ). There are plenty of others to be found, some in the 1940's, like the batch of 9 instruments I have cited in 1942-3, and even in the 1950's, such as 35078/35881.

 

But it now looks more likely that this instrument was numbered "out of sequence".

 

 

The receipt offered as evidence of accuracy of Mr. Minting's list dates back to 1941.  It proves that concertina 51406 was sold on 26th September 1941.  It does not prove the accuracy of Mr. Minting’s list.  It would have been helpful to have something similar for 1947.

It suggests that the earlier part of Harry's list is accurate, and if you take a look at the later 1953-74 Anglo ledger, SD04 (online here) you can confirm the latter part, which would suggest to me that what comes in between is also reasonably trustworthy.

 

The evidence from SD03 shows that English and duet concertinas sold in 1947 could have had a wide variety of numbers that, without that ledger, might suggest very different dates. If we didn't have it, we might similarly conclude that all Wheatstone Englishes numbered below 35566 were made before 28/11/1947, but the ledger tells a very different story.

 

I believe that the same probably applies to the lost Anglo ledger for the same period, but that Harry's list reflects the trend in numbering at that time, to which there will be similar exceptions.

 

Some receipts from around 1947 would indeed be extremely useful, though they could prove unhelpful, as I fear that a representative set would probably reveal all sorts of (seemingly unrelated) serial numbers !

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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