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Wheatstone models


Paul_Hardy
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 I recently acquired a nice old Wheatstone English - 11689, from 1861. The Horniman ledgers show it selling on the 7th October 1861 for 12 pounds 12 shillings (12 guineas). This is the most expensive concertina on the page, the cheapest being an eighth of the price at £1/11s/6d, so it was a top of the range instrument for its time. My writeup of it is at https://pghardy.net/concertina/wheatstone_11689/wheatstone_11689.html

 

My question is how to refer to this model? I know that Lachenal used names like Paragon and Excelsior (and New Model) to identify more expensive models - did Wheatstone (other than the obvious Aeola)? I also know that Wheatstone used model numbers later on, but did they use them in 1861?

Edited by Paul_Hardy
Exclude Aeola
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In 1861 Louis Lachenal (who made your instrument for Wheatstone's) was using only numbers, from 1 to 12, for the different models of treble. Yours was simply No. 12 on his list (though described as being "for concerts") and his price was £8 ,, 8s.

 

http://www.concertina.com/pricelists/lachenal/Lachenal-MDRA-1861.pdf

 

The first "named" model appears on Lachenal's 1862 International Exhibition price list, but it's their new 2 guinea "economy model" described as The People's Concertina.

 

Number 12 is now listed as No. 6, selling for 8 guineas with brass reeds, 10 guineas with [nickel] silver reeds, 12 guineas with steel reeds,  and 13 guineas with gold reeds.

 

http://www.concertina.com/pricelists/lachenal/Lachenal-Intl-Exhibition-1862.pdf

 

Wheatstone's 1859 advertisement in The Musical Directory, Register & Almanac  (the nearest Wheatstone price list to 1861) demonstrates that the firm's focus had shifted to harmoniums, which had overtaken the concertina in popularity by then. However, there is a brief mention of their 12 guinea model "as used by Sig. Regondi and Mr. Richard Blagrove."

 

http://www.concertina.com/pricelists/wheatstone-english/Wheatstone-MDRA-1859.pdf

 

So, if I needed to refer to it, I'd call it "the 12 guinea model," or "the concert model."

 

 

 

 

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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3 hours ago, alex_holden said:

Hi Paul, the description says it has bone buttons and brass reeds, but the photos seem to show silver tipped buttons and steel reeds.

 

The original reeds look more like German silver (nickel silver) to me, and the pitch of the instrument appears to have been brought down (to Society of Arts?) by an accordion tuner.

 

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11 hours ago, alex_holden said:

Hi Paul, the description says it has bone buttons and brass reeds, but the photos seem to show silver tipped buttons and steel reeds.

 

The reeds are definitely not steel, with two exceptions - G2 on left, and C2 on right, both on push. Interestingly, they look original rather than later swaps, as the reed shoes have the correct small individual reed number stamped on them. However those two reed tongues look very different, with flecks of rust. The rest of the reeds are a brassy colour, I'd assume brass, but possibly nickel-silver - how does one tell?

 

The condition of the bulk of the reeds is really excellent, very smooth surfaces, and I'd guess original, not later retuned. The camara has exaggerated any surface blemishes.

 

As it says later on the page, the buttons are flat-topped metal (nickel)? - the 'bone' reference earlier was my cut and paste error from a previous instrument description.

 

I'll check the tuning when I've sorted the curled valves to make it playable.

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On 12/15/2022 at 12:52 PM, Stephen Chambers said:

 

Only in early symphoniums, not in concertinas.

Hello all, I'm pretty sure my top model George Case patent concertina ca. 1875 has 9ct gold reeds. I tested a broken one on a touch stone. Didn't think much of it at the time. Put it in a small plastic bag which I promptly misplaced. I'll try to find it and test it again. 

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On 12/15/2022 at 10:52 AM, Stephen Chambers said:

The original reeds look more like German silver (nickel silver) to me, and the pitch of the instrument appears to have been brought down (to Society of Arts?) by an accordion tuner.

 

I think Stephen is right and the reeds are nickel silver - which I was surprised to find has no silver in it - usually 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc.  They are less tarnished than brass reeds would be after 160 years!

 

I also see why he suspected an accordion tuner - there are longitudinal tuning scratches on some reeds. 

 

I have it working sufficiently to evaluate the tuning somewhat, though not all reeds are speaking and some are odd. Firstly it's not in equal temperament - G# and Ab are quite different, as are D# and Eb. In general, the flats are sharper (+35 cents), and the sharps are flatter (-7 cents) than ET. So it was probably in a meantone temperament, likely quarter-comma meantone.

 

I also think Stephen was right regarding Society of Arts pitch - the various A notes seem to be multiples of 222.5, so A=445, which is apparently the modern interpretation (for ET) of their C=528. Indeed middle C push is exactly 528 (the pull is odd/warbly).  However a few other notes are 30 cents high, so maybe it was originally in high pitch and the tuning down to middle pitch was incomplete. I need to continue fettling (replacing pads etc) to get it properly playable to investigate the tuning further.

 

I think I will keep it in a meantone tuning - I like the fifth-comma meantone centred on A that I applied to another old instrument - see https://pghardy.net/concertina/lachenal_27590/lachenal_27590.html which has a detailed description of what and why.

 

Could anyone currently replace the tongues of three reeds with nickel silver tongues? As I said before, two reeds (C and G) seem to have steel tongues, and I just found out that one note (F) which was silent has a badly cracked reed. I have temporarily replaced it with a spare brass reed, but for a posh instrument like this it would be good to keep the original reed shoes and consistent tongue material. Any suggestions?

 

 

Edited by Paul_Hardy
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11 minutes ago, Paul_Hardy said:

Could anyone currently replace the tongues of three reeds with nickel silver tongues? As I said before, two reeds (C and G) seem to have steel tongues, and I just found out that one note (F) which was silent has a badly cracked reed. I have temporarily replaced it with a spare brass reed, but for a posh instrument like this it would be good to keep the original reed shoes and consistent tongue material. Any suggestions?

 

 

Try Wim Wakker of Concertina Connection - he may be able to help

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3 hours ago, Paul_Hardy said:

I'd prefer someone in the UK for avoidance of customs complications.

I would too because shipping and insurance costs would be expensive, but I will point out that you can declare on the customs form that the shipped item is 'for repair' and the repairer can do the same ('from repair') and that avoids triggering duties and sales taxes.

 

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