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martyn

Mystery Anglo

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I am looking for some more information on this anglo. Can anyone help?

 

It has 39 keys and plays in Bb/F with Jeffries papers and an unusual gold tooling design on the bellows. The reed chambers run horizontally on the right hand and diagonally on the left. The ends are nickel and have a very open fret pattern and are totally flat so there is no room for a bushing board - there is just a piece of leather (probably the remains of a baffle). Unfortunately someone has polished the ends giving them a slight "brushed" effect but I am sure this can be rectified. There are no numbers or makers name anywhere.

 

The only suggestions I have had so far is that it is possibly a Jones and could be even be a prototype as it is very old. On the reed pan there are also slots that have been sealed off with fine leather, but there are no corresponding buttons. To view pictures click on Mystery Anglo

Edited by martyn

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Martyn,

 

This is *very* similar to a very early Jeffries I have seen, engraved (not stamped) with his name and the "White Lion Passage" address. That instrument also had the thumb buttons non-centered in the "flowers" and the general fretwork was almost identical. Both instruments do have Jones characteristics. The connection between Jeffries and the Crabbs has been much discussed, but there also seems to be a connection between Jeffries and Jones; some have told me there are records that Jeffries may have worked for or even trained under Jones in some capacity. I don't know the details of this research or whether those who told me are still gathering evidence to be published later; it is up to them to publicize the details when they are ready. However, I have a very lovely, evidently very early metal-ended 28 key with some Jones and some Jeffries characteristics and the engraved mark "C. JEFFRIES, MAKER," made with the same tool that was used to engrave the fancy metal ends. There is a picture of this on my webpage. I have seen other instruments with the same fancy and engraved ends, but without the Jeffries name. Very knowledgeable friends of mine have suggested that the ones engraved "Jeffries" represent some kind of collaboration (or re-working) between Jeffries and Jones. It is also possible that they are straight Jones that were engraved with Jeffries' name as forgeries when resold on the second hand market, but those who know much more than I have told me to consider them Jeffries!

 

I have seen one or two Jones anglos (including one humble mahogany 26 key model) that have reedwork miles above the typical Jones standard. It is wild speculation, but within the realm of possibility that 1) Jeffries might have made reeds for some Jones instruments, either when first made or in the course of "reworking" them, or 2) Jones or some of his workers might have been able to make reeds that sound as brilliantly as typical Jeffries reeds. The reeds in the two "Jeffries-" engraved instruments mentioned above are also exceptional. Wes -forgive me, I may have violated your principle here but only want to raise a question.

 

Is there a Jones serial number?

 

The angling of the reed chambers on the left hand side is common in early Jones instruments and is also a feature of the two "Jeffries" engraved instruments mentioned above. The aim seems to have been to provide larger chambers for the lowest reeds with the simplest pathways for the levers.

 

What is the state of the tuning? If still in high pitch and unequal temperament, this instrument would be a very valuable source of information for me and others interested in the history of anglo temperaments. Please email me (paul@groffsmusic.com) if you are interested in checking this out. In any event, it is likely to be very significant historically as well as a brilliant sounding concertina when sympathetically restored.

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff

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Martyn,

 

One more point about the mystery anglo --- in regard to the absence of a bushing board. The extremely similar one I have examined does have a bushing board, but this may have been added in recent times ( I will ask the restorer). One suggestion that has been made by some (but not all) who have seen it is that it may have been converted from wooden to metal fretwork ends.

 

Paul

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Wes -forgive me, I may have violated your principle here but only want to raise a question.

Not at all Paul - you made an observation based on what you have seen, and

explained why!

 

I've just visited the Horniman Museum, where I was able to see a 'White Lion'

metal ended Jeffries at close quarters, but unlike the one we are discussing here, it had many Crabb-like characteristics. I'd agree with Paul that this one has Jones-like characteristics (eg 'open' fret pattern with heart shaped motif above palm rest, bellows stamp). The Jeffries/Jones connection seems to be much more firmly established with the wooden ended Jeffries instruments, rather than the metal ended ones. And we also have Tommy Williams's statement about Jeffries being noted for the steel they used in their reeds, which Tommy, as a tuner for Lachenal, thought very important, suggesting that Jeffries had some special skills with reeds.

 

I think at this early period in Jeffries history, it is much more likely that he was working mainly as a repairer, rather than a full manufacturer, and early instruments produced with the Jeffries name were sourced in a large part from Crabb or Jones.

 

But there may be one point we have omitted so far that isn't visible in the photos -what kind of lever action is inside?

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And now I'm back at my 'concertina workstation', and have all the information to hand, its probably worth considering a little bit more about Jones.

 

Paul has remarked above about the varying quality he has seen in Jones instruments. Although this quote from Frank Butler (Jones's grandson) relates to the later years of Jones (1880/90) its worth passing on:

 

The range of concertinas made by Jones was immense. He catalogued more than fifty variants of the Anglo, including an "organ-tone" Anglo, with reeds playing in octaves, and his so-called "Perfect" Anglo, patented in 1884, which was fully chromatic. He made eleven different styles of English concertina, in addition to piccolo, tenor, baritone and bass instruments, which if used in conjunction with the treble made it possible to play very ambitious works, especially string quartet music. There was also an "organ-tone" English concertina, and a piano concertina which had the studs coloured black and white and grouped as on the piano. All were available in qualities "A", "B", "C" and there was plenty of plating and gilt inlay on the more expensive models.

 

There is also another quote from the same article which is pertinent:

 

Soon after the fire [destroying his original premises in about 1861] Jones moved into new premises at 2, Lucas Place, a terrace on the other side of Commercial Road. There he started production of the "Anglo" concertina after receiving a large order from Dublin from his former employer Scates who had settled there.

 

So the anglos produced by Jeffries in the 'White Lion' period (late 1860s/early 1870s) would be fairly close to this date, and the sophistication of design could accord with the developments in the anglo that Jones was so keen on.

 

All things considered, I'd guess that this instrument is a Jones. If it was a Jeffries, wouldn't it have been engraved with makers name and place like the others we know of?

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Wes,

 

Thanks for your insights. I was curious what you would say about this one. I agree that we have no reason for considering the concertina that started this inquiry a Jeffries. Although, if it is a standard Jones model it should have a Jones serial number. I have had in my shop several very early Jones and all with his label were numbered. I think he was very proud of his instruments, particularly the fine ones. One with the Lucas Place (yes, Jim!) label had a number in the 2000s, lower than any mentioned in the article you cite. I believe the Horniman collection lists one with an even lower number.

 

Actually I believe in being very cautious about attributions, especially to Jeffries where this could be presumed to influence the market price. I'm sure there were Jeffries forgeries dating back to the 19th century. What is interesting to me is that this represents the second time I have seen a "matched pair" of instruments with Jones and Jeffries characteristics, but made in very high quality, where one has an engraved Jeffries mark and one doesn't. To clarify, I mean that the instrument in question here looks to be identical (except for the engraving, and perhaps the original pitch) to one I have studied with the White Lion address engraved, and that previously I have seen another semi-miniature 28 key, without the engraved name, but otherwise identical to my little instrument that is engraved "C. Jeffries." These are excellent instruments whoever made them! Notable dealers and repairers have told me to consider *the two of these with the Jeffries engraving* as Jeffries. This is what I meant to say in my previous posting. However, as you see I am actually even more cautious than that.

 

I once bought from New Zealand a "Jeffries" with a very authentic appearing (and perhaps authentic!) "C. Jeffries" stamp. I already knew it was made by John Crabb from the subtly different fretwork pattern visible in the photo, and since I love John Crabb's instruments this didn't bother me at all. When it arrived, I found as I expected the "J. Crabb Maker" stamp that often (but not always) can be found on the underside of the metal ends (e. g. of Ball Beavons), no Crabb serial number (most from this period are in the 8000s, but numbers may be lacking), and evidence that marks (Crabb's, I suspect) had been very crudely gouged out of the reedpans and wirebrushed off one end -- under the "Jeffries" stamp! Just a bit of the "B" from Crabb or "R" from Maker was still visible. All this under a good 100 years of tarnish! So, amateur detectives: A very early and cosmetically crude re-working by Jeffries the tinker? A Crabb that was fraudulently restamped by a dealer ca. 1900 to bump up its value on the second-hand market (where did they get the very authentic stamp?)? A late and coarse restamping done during repairs (e. g., by Jeffries Bros)? I think we'll never know. The instrument, by the way is a fine quality bone-button 31 key D/A originally in A443 but very out-of tune and with broken reeds, etc., that led me to undertake major repairs and gentle retuning/repitching to A442. It has an unusually mellow and rich tone for a D/A and I play it every day.

 

I'm sure the big dealers could tell us many stories of weird and probably fraudulent "Jeffries" stamps and in fact they have showed me some.

 

Re: Jones; yes, there were many levels of quality, but the particluar point I made above is that I have sometimes (very rarely) encountered reeds even in the cheap instruments that really jump out at you. Very hard steel and different voicing from typical. In general, when Jones set out to make a fine quality instrument, this was reflected (even perhaps in an exaggerated way) by the fine quality and appearance of the fretwork, bellows papers, and gold-tooling. So the humble model instruments with the great reeds *could* have been prototypes, experiments, the first attempts by a reed-maker trying for a higher standard ... or they could have been made specifically for a good player with very limited means. Such great-playing but meagerly appointed instruments are known among old recorders, flutes, etc. Sorry Wes, this is more speculation! But sometimes it's helpful to consider different possibilities in order to keep one's mind open to new interpretations.

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff

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