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Concertinas Made In No. America

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What about Stinson Behlen... All anglos, I think.
I've just dug up Stinson's letter to Neil Wayne from Concertina Newsletter No.9 (Dec 1972). He writes of 30K and 48K English systems ($100 and $250 inc post to UK). Of anglos, he says...

 

I have in stock some New Anglo-20-Key Concertinas, these are not popular here.... Your price only £21 Postpaid. Limited supply, not my line but very fine quality. Delivery soon as possible.

And I just found an article from the May 1972 Mugwumps (at that time subtitled "The Classified Market-place Of Folk Instruments For Sale") that I suspect was written by Behlen which reads in part, "Mr. Behlen has been making English system concertinas for over 20 years...Mr. Behlen builds about 6, 30-key concertinas each month and can provide the 48-key on special order. They are built through the combined efforts of the Behlen Concertina Company and Dr. Bastari....He states,...'I assemble and make about 6 per month.' "

 

And yet those who knew him have said here that he didn't make them. Could he perhaps have assembled them from parts supplied by Bastari? Or, as others have suggested, was he just making a claim that wasn't true?

Edited by Daniel Hersh

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I have in stock some New Anglo-20-Key Concertinas, these are not popular here.... Your price only £21 Postpaid. Limited supply, not my line but very fine quality. Delivery soon as possible.

And I just found an article from the May 1972 Mugwumps (at that time subtitled "The Classified Market-place Of Folk Instruments For Sale") that I suspect was written by Behlen which reads in part, "Mr. Behlen has been making English system concertinas for over 20 years...Mr. Behlen builds about 6, 30-key concertinas each month and can provide the 48-key on special order. They are built through the combined efforts of the Behlen Concertina Company and Dr. Bastari....He states,...'I assemble and make about 6 per month.' "

 

And yet those who knew him have said here that he didn't make them. Could he perhaps have assembled them from parts supplied by Bastari? Or, as others have suggested, was he just making a claim that wasn't true?

 

I had a lot of dealing with Stinson Behlen from 1989 until 2002(some people are a little hard on the uptake, as my mother used to say!) He was cantankerous, but humorous(he himself had no clue how funny he was!). I wonder if he is still alive. He was 85 in January, 2002.

 

He had a lot of parts available for german made concertinas, scholers and such. He was great for that kind of thing. I bought his inventory of parts in 2002, and two years later sold them to Roy Whitely, the guy making the midi concertinas in England. He had some interesting stuff, couldn't tell if it was spares, or inventory for building concertinas. I think there was some of each. I have never seen an example of one supposedly built by him, but who knows? Included were a lot of brass reeded zinc plates for german 20 buttons and such. I have heard him make some outrageous claims, both in letters, and on the phone(which he hated, he like to type letters, apparently, and save on the phone bill)

In 1990 he told me he had some really beautiful black 20 button Swedish made concertinas, G/D, which he was going to call "Trinity College", or something like that. I think he said he wanted 3 or 4 hundred for them at the time. I spoke to Joel Cowan a year or two later, and inquired about the possibility of Swedish Concertinas being handled by Mr. Behlen, and he said that he believed that the concertinas were Bastari's with Swedish steel reeds, and that was how Stinson was justitying his description.

He used to occaisionally write me telling me he had nice parts coming in from Italy(bellow and such) and that I could have them cheap! I could go on and on, he was a riot! I bought a lot of junk from him, simply because he cracked me up!

He told me in Jan. 2002 that he had a new line of 30 key Anglos, walnut ends, black bellows, Wheatsone reeds and Mechanisms, for $1295.00, postpaid. Did anyone out there ever buy one from him??

He was also very helpfull whenever possible, and reasonably priced for his services. All this being said, I doubt very much that he ever built a concertina from scratch, and I am not sure that he even built them from Dr. Bastari's parts, though that is possible considering that he was the "go to" man for parts for German and Italian concertinas, and seemed to have plenty of that stuff on hand at any time.

In any event, he was a true character of the American West, and a true Character of the concertina/accordian world.

Hope this helps,

Don

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Thanks for the info. Behlen passed away in 2004--see this thread. There is such a thing as a Trinity College concertina, but I don't know who sold or built them.

 

Daniel

 

I had a lot of dealing with Stinson Behlen from 1989 until 2002(some people are a little hard on the uptake, as my mother used to say!) He was cantankerous, but humorous(he himself had no clue how funny he was!). I wonder if he is still alive. He was 85 in January, 2002.

 

He had a lot of parts available for german made concertinas, scholers and such. He was great for that kind of thing. I bought his inventory of parts in 2002, and two years later sold them to Roy Whitely, the guy making the midi concertinas in England. He had some interesting stuff, couldn't tell if it was spares, or inventory for building concertinas. I think there was some of each. I have never seen an example of one supposedly built by him, but who knows? Included were a lot of brass reeded zinc plates for german 20 buttons and such. I have heard him make some outrageous claims, both in letters, and on the phone(which he hated, he like to type letters, apparently, and save on the phone bill)

In 1990 he told me he had some really beautiful black 20 button Swedish made concertinas, G/D, which he was going to call "Trinity College", or something like that. I think he said he wanted 3 or 4 hundred for them at the time. I spoke to Joel Cowan a year or two later, and inquired about the possibility of Swedish Concertinas being handled by Mr. Behlen, and he said that he believed that the concertinas were Bastari's with Swedish steel reeds, and that was how Stinson was justitying his description.

He used to occaisionally write me telling me he had nice parts coming in from Italy(bellow and such) and that I could have them cheap! I could go on and on, he was a riot! I bought a lot of junk from him, simply because he cracked me up!

He told me in Jan. 2002 that he had a new line of 30 key Anglos, walnut ends, black bellows, Wheatsone reeds and Mechanisms, for $1295.00, postpaid. Did anyone out there ever buy one from him??

He was also very helpfull whenever possible, and reasonably priced for his services. All this being said, I doubt very much that he ever built a concertina from scratch, and I am not sure that he even built them from Dr. Bastari's parts, though that is possible considering that he was the "go to" man for parts for German and Italian concertinas, and seemed to have plenty of that stuff on hand at any time.

In any event, he was a true character of the American West, and a true Character of the concertina/accordian world.

Hope this helps,

Don

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I had a lot of dealing with Stinson Behlen from 1989 until 2002(some people are a little hard on the uptake, as my mother used to say!) He was cantankerous, but humorous(he himself had no clue how funny he was!). I wonder if he is still alive. He was 85 in January, 2002.

 

He had a lot of parts available for german made concertinas, scholers and such. He was great for that kind of thing. I bought his inventory of parts in 2002, and two years later sold them to Roy Whitely, the guy making the midi concertinas in England. He had some interesting stuff, couldn't tell if it was spares, or inventory for building concertinas. I think there was some of each. I have never seen an example of one supposedly built by him, but who knows? Included were a lot of brass reeded zinc plates for german 20 buttons and such. I have heard him make some outrageous claims, both in letters, and on the phone(which he hated, he like to type letters, apparently, and save on the phone bill)

In 1990 he told me he had some really beautiful black 20 button Swedish made concertinas, G/D, which he was going to call "Trinity College", or something like that. I think he said he wanted 3 or 4 hundred for them at the time. I spoke to Joel Cowan a year or two later, and inquired about the possibility of Swedish Concertinas being handled by Mr. Behlen, and he said that he believed that the concertinas were Bastari's with Swedish steel reeds, and that was how Stinson was justitying his description.

He used to occaisionally write me telling me he had nice parts coming in from Italy(bellow and such) and that I could have them cheap! I could go on and on, he was a riot! I bought a lot of junk from him, simply because he cracked me up!

He told me in Jan. 2002 that he had a new line of 30 key Anglos, walnut ends, black bellows, Wheatsone reeds and Mechanisms, for $1295.00, postpaid. Did anyone out there ever buy one from him??

He was also very helpfull whenever possible, and reasonably priced for his services. All this being said, I doubt very much that he ever built a concertina from scratch, and I am not sure that he even built them from Dr. Bastari's parts, though that is possible considering that he was the "go to" man for parts for German and Italian concertinas, and seemed to have plenty of that stuff on hand at any time.

In any event, he was a true character of the American West, and a true Character of the concertina/accordian world.

Hope this helps,

Don

I agree with Don; that is the essence of my dealings with Stinson as well. I don't think he ever built a concertina, as I have said. You cannot believe everything you read, especially when it was written by such a genuine character as Stinson. I bought a three row accordion once from him....believing his glowing description....and it was a completely unplayable East German thing. I returned it and he hit the ceiling. He did return my payment, but I got no more hand-typed Stinson letters after the one in which he fumed at me for returning the accordion! I do wish there were more folks like him around though...he was really interesting, and full of information from exotic places in that pre-internet time.

Dan

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Thanks for the info. Behlen passed away in 2004--see this thread. There is such a thing as a Trinity College concertina, but I don't know who sold or built them.

 

Daniel

 

I bought one in the late eighties, man was I proud. Don't hold air worth a damn now. But even though it says Trinity College, Ireland, it was made in Downtownn China, as my friend John at Bluegrass Musicians Supply would say.

 

Alan

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but I got no more hand-typed Stinson letters after the one in which he fumed at me for returning the accordion! I do wish there were more folks like him around though...he was really interesting, and full of information from exotic places in that pre-internet time.

Dan

 

 

Yer not an oldtimer unless you have a couple of Stinson's handtyped letters pinned to your shop wall.

 

Bob

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[Yer not an oldtimer unless you have a couple of Stinson's handtyped letters pinned to your shop wall.

I have the letters, but it's been a dozen years since I've had anything I could call a shop. :(

 

I have hopes that the situation is changing, but I don't expect to try my hand at making my own concertinas for at least a year. Don't think it would be right to put up the letters before then. ;)

 

Hmm. Re-reading what Bob said makes me wonder whether I could stay young by not putting up the letters. Maybe the letters will grow spotty and wrinkled instead of me if I keep them hidden away? :unsure:

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[Yer not an oldtimer unless you have a couple of Stinson's handtyped letters pinned to your shop wall.

I have the letters, but it's been a dozen years since I've had anything I could call a shop. :(

 

I have hopes that the situation is changing, but I don't expect to try my hand at making my own concertinas for at least a year. Don't think it would be right to put up the letters before then. ;)

 

Hmm. Re-reading what Bob said makes me wonder whether I could stay young by not putting up the letters. Maybe the letters will grow spotty and wrinkled instead of me if I keep them hidden away? :unsure:

 

That applies only to letters of Dorian Gray

 

 

Bob

Edited by Bob Tedrow

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Thanks for sharing the links about Mr. Behlen. I had never heard of him. While he apparently didn't construct anglo concertinas himself, it seems North American anglo concertina players owe him gratitude for the generous sharing of his knowledge of free reeds, which led to the beginning of construction of anglo concertinas on this continent by Harold Herrington in the 1990s. Unless some additional data is found, it looks like Mr. Herrington may indeed be the first to do it.

 

I still find it surprising that it took till the last decade of the 20th century for the manufacture of anglo concertinas to take root in North America. I'm certainly grateful this has happened in my lifetime and I'll bet we have not yet reached a peak in the number of excellent builders that take on this wonderful vocation of building fine concertinas both here and on other continents.

Harold's square concetinas were the first production (since a long time ago ) concertinas I saw, and much due to Harolds enterprising nature! However, they weren't the first being made. Others were working at the same time or earlier to develop some good instruments ( notably the Morse line ), but it took them longer to finalize what they were doing and offer for sale. The results were worth the wait. Besides Harolds ability to make a decent instrument, he has an ability to focus hard on his work and perhaps that helped him get to market before some others.

 

Some of us owe our knowledge of free reeds not to Mr. Stinson, but to the generous sharing of information and time by Steve Dickenson who gave me more understanding of the important aspects of concertina reeds than any other person. To this day I have had no quibble with anything he ever told me though I have found out more on my own. I doubt if I would have had as good an idea of where to look without his generous time shared. Unlike Mr. Stinson, He did/ does make his own concertinas and some very fine ones.

Dana

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