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Concertina I.D.

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50 minutes ago, Paul Groff said:

Another excellent hypothesis Malcolm. Here in the US, the Hohner (and occasional Koch) F#BE boxes  I've seen usually date from the 1920s - early 1930s, and usually found in A 435. Some steirische-type boxes were also made or retuned to those keys.


I don't know if this has any relevance to the specific Hohner and Koch instruments you reference, but I've read that A 435 was the pitch standard agreed to in the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I.

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12 hours ago, malcolm clapp said:

I would have hoped that the signatories to the Treaty of Versailles had more important things on their mind, Jim.  🙂

I'm with you. But I looked it up, and there it is in Article 282 (so at least they addressed some other things first), Section 22, where they agree to accept the standard (A 435) that had been adopted by certain European countries at a Convention in 1885. Article 282 has 26 Sections, each adopting something from a grab bag of things negotiated at earlier International Conventions (addressing a wide range of concerns, including the protection minors, protection of birds important in agriculture, suppression of obscene publications, free use of the Suez Canal, unification and improvement of the metric system, and the suppression of White Slave Traffic.) 

Edited by Jim2010
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/24/2022 at 9:52 PM, Robin Harrison said:

that is interesting,Geoff.........any indication as to number of buttons/keys the anglos were ?


Please see attachment.  


Breakdown of the 114 Crabb Anglo concertinas made in the Crabb workshop Sep1889 -Dec1891.docx

Edited by Geoffrey Crabb
Numbers quoted corrected after re-inspection of records.
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On 1/24/2022 at 11:10 PM, Paul Groff said:

I agree with this as a very likely explanation.


Not in contradiction of this, but to build on it, we can consider a corollary of producing anglos in London in the B/F# keys in the late 19th century. By that time there were tuners well distributed through the country though production of the instruments was more centralized. Stamps and markings inside the instruments give evidence of those many and widespread tuners. 


I think it's likely that many of the B/F# anglos were retuned up or down, i.e. to Bb/F or to C/G in one of the various English pitches. I have more than once seen evidence of this, even though the BF# anglos may have been stamped as if in CG. One example was a Crabb 31 key that was all tuned to BbF (high pitch) except for the left hand thumb button that was tuned to B/B.  The re-tuner must have missed that one!


So a B/F# box might not only have played well with german C/G imports, but also have been a versatile starting point if exported to Liverpool (etc) where it could have been repitched locally to suit the needs of players there.




On 1/26/2022 at 1:18 AM, malcolm clapp said:

My thoughts along the same lines, Paul.

It would be interesting to hear Geoffrey Crabb's view on this theory....



Unfortunately, I have now reached a point in life where I am past speculating on what indeed might be valid theories. 

I can only offer what is in the Crabb records. 

All Crabb instruments, from the beginning, were made to order and Anglos in the keys ordered.

The emended attachment in my previous posting, shows that the sample of 114 instruments were made in a variety of keys.

Of course, what happened to them re: re-tuning/re-pitching  after they left the workshop is not known.


Edited by Geoffrey Crabb
Previous attachment Emended
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4 hours ago, Geoffrey Crabb said:

Remarkable Geoff, many thanks! So many rosewood ones, and all of those (from that time interval) BF#. Is there any indication of pitch standards in the records, or old tuning forks or reference sets of reeds that can be definitively dated to this period?

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