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19th & 20th Century Uk Export Sales To Australia


Warren Fahey
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As a folklorist and player I am always interested in tracking the history of the concertina in Australia (and New Zealand).

Lachenal, Case and Wheatstone exported thousands of concertinas to Australia however I haven't been able to find any ledger reference to exports.

Have I missed something? I would also like to know if H. Crabb sent any instruments down to Australia and I understand John Crabb has retained the company's ledgers. Concertina spare parts also came in and I have noted several references to their shipping arrival in Sydney and other ports.

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As a folklorist and player I am always interested in tracking the history of the concertina in Australia (and New Zealand).

Lachenal, Case and Wheatstone exported thousands of concertinas to Australia however I haven't been able to find any ledger reference to exports.

Have I missed something? I would also like to know if H. Crabb sent any instruments down to Australia and I understand John Crabb has retained the company's ledgers. Concertina spare parts also came in and I have noted several references to their shipping arrival in Sydney and other ports.

 

Hi Warren,

 

As far as Crabb concertinas in Australia, none were exported in bulk. Those that have found their way there have either been brought in by immigrants, used instruments imported or as a direct order for a single instrument.

 

Regards

 

Geoff.

(The last John Crabb died in 1903) :)

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As a folklorist and player I am always interested in tracking the history of the concertina in Australia (and New Zealand).

Lachenal, Case and Wheatstone exported thousands of concertinas to Australia however I haven't been able to find any ledger reference to exports.

Have I missed something? I would also like to know if H. Crabb sent any instruments down to Australia and I understand John Crabb has retained the company's ledgers. Concertina spare parts also came in and I have noted several references to their shipping arrival in Sydney and other ports.

 

Warren,

 

If thousands of concertinas were shipped, I'd suspect that a lot of them (probably most of them) were German made. Some of the photos I have seen of old Aussie times show German-made ones. The best way to chase them up, I have found, is to look for advertisements in period newspapers. In the US and Ireland and England, there were plenty of such ads in the late 19th century showing that the more or less factory-built cheap German imports were being sold in large quantities. You also can search old government customs records....I've found a few for US customs of the time that show that tens of thousands were being brought in annually from Germany there, at least in some years.

 

I suspect that Geoff is right on many of the English-made ones....individual direct orders of craftsman-made instruments, somewhat like today, or brought by immigrants. Maybe Lachenal had larger bulk-shipped numbers in their prime?.

 

Cheers,

Dan

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As a folklorist and player I am always interested in tracking the history of the concertina in Australia (and New Zealand).

Lachenal, Case and Wheatstone exported thousands of concertinas to Australia however I haven't been able to find any ledger reference to exports.

Have I missed something? I would also like to know if H. Crabb sent any instruments down to Australia and I understand John Crabb has retained the company's ledgers. Concertina spare parts also came in and I have noted several references to their shipping arrival in Sydney and other ports.

 

Hi Warren,

 

As far as Crabb concertinas in Australia, none were exported in bulk. Those that have found their way there have either been brought in by immigrants, used instruments imported or as a direct order for a single instrument.

 

Regards

 

Geoff.

(The last John Crabb died in 1903) :)

 

Thanks Geoff

 

Obviously I got a bum steer re your name.

 

Warren Fahey

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As a folklorist and player I am always interested in tracking the history of the concertina in Australia (and New Zealand).

Lachenal, Case and Wheatstone exported thousands of concertinas to Australia however I haven't been able to find any ledger reference to exports.

Have I missed something? I would also like to know if H. Crabb sent any instruments down to Australia and I understand John Crabb has retained the company's ledgers. Concertina spare parts also came in and I have noted several references to their shipping arrival in Sydney and other ports.

 

Warren,

 

If thousands of concertinas were shipped, I'd suspect that a lot of them (probably most of them) were German made. Some of the photos I have seen of old Aussie times show German-made ones. The best way to chase them up, I have found, is to look for advertisements in period newspapers. In the US and Ireland and England, there were plenty of such ads in the late 19th century showing that the more or less factory-built cheap German imports were being sold in large quantities. You also can search old government customs records....I've found a few for US customs of the time that show that tens of thousands were being brought in annually from Germany there, at least in some years.

 

I suspect that Geoff is right on many of the English-made ones....individual direct orders of craftsman-made instruments, somewhat like today, or brought by immigrants. Maybe Lachenal had larger bulk-shipped numbers in their prime?.

 

Cheers,

Dan

 

Maybe not. Since Australia was really seen as 'part of England' maybe they had a different more nationalistic approach. The advertisements I have located, from 1865 onwards, specifically mention Wheatstone, Lachenal and Case arriving 'in large quantities'. We certainly had loads of melodeons and other accordions in from England from 1880 onwards but not many 'tinas.

 

Thanks anyway. We didn't really have any customs up until post 1880s,

 

Warren

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Warren,

If thousands of concertinas were shipped, I'd suspect that a lot of them (probably most of them) were German made. Some of the photos I have seen of old Aussie times show German-made ones. The best way to chase them up, I have found, is to look for advertisements in period newspapers. In the US and Ireland and England, there were plenty of such ads in the late 19th century showing that the more or less factory-built cheap German imports were being sold in large quantities. You also can search old government customs records....I've found a few for US customs of the time that show that tens of thousands were being brought in annually from Germany there, at least in some years.

 

I suspect that Geoff is right on many of the English-made ones....individual direct orders of craftsman-made instruments, somewhat like today, or brought by immigrants. Maybe Lachenal had larger bulk-shipped numbers in their prime?.

 

Cheers,

Dan

 

Maybe not. Since Australia was really seen as 'part of England' maybe they had a different more nationalistic approach. The advertisements I have located, from 1865 onwards, specifically mention Wheatstone, Lachenal and Case arriving 'in large quantities'. We certainly had loads of melodeons and other accordions in from England from 1880 onwards but not many 'tinas.

 

Thanks anyway. We didn't really have any customs up until post 1880s,

 

Warren

 

Warren,

 

Just a gentle suggestion that you might want to check again. Specialty music stores that might stock high price craftsman-made English concertinas were only one avenue for concertinas. German instruments were sold in all sorts of shops in England, Ireland and the US....hardware stores, general merchandisers, jewelry stores, etc. I doubt that these countries were less 'nationalistic' than Australia....and all shared a sharp eye for a hot-selling item for mass audiences. German instruments were being churned out by the tens of thousands each year, and were a very small fraction of the cost of the craftsmen-made English instruments that we relatively more prosperous aficianados now crave. All sources in the above-mentioned countries in the late 1800s point to a thriving market for German concertinas, as most working class and rural folks could afford no other.

 

Australia seems to have been no different, in my opinion. This tobacco shop window in Paramatta (near Sydney in NSW), ca. 1870-1880, will give you the idea of what to look for. Bob Bolton found it, and photoshopped the glare out of the window so we can best see the contents. Inexpensive German-made concertinas; not a Wheatstone to be seen.

 

Another picture is of the Colemane brothers, same time period, near Cootamundra, also NSW. Alfred William Colemane, holding the German concertina, later became famous for bottling Eucalyptus oil in Brawlin, near Cootamundra; he died in 1912 at the age of 75.

 

To be sure, there were English-made concertinas coming in. My guess is that the average fellow in the bush would have gone for something cheaper, at least at first. Those who kept with it, or went professional, would of course have moved up later.

 

Kind regards,

Dan

post-976-1197471016_thumb.jpgpost-976-1197471045_thumb.jpg

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The advertisements I have located, from 1865 onwards, specifically mention Wheatstone, Lachenal and Case arriving 'in large quantities'.

Warren,

 

Unfortunately there are no records known to survive for the manufacture/sales of George Case, or Lachenal concertinas, though the Wheatstone ledgers do reveal some bulk sales of English concertinas (typically in quantities of a "baker's dozen") to dealers such as Joseph Scates, or Berens, Blumberg & Co., etc., but I'm not aware of any sales that are identifiably to an Australian company (though I don't know that anybody has looked!). Unfortunately there are no sales ledgers for Wheatstone's after May 1870, though the firm was producing relatively small numbers of largely "bespoke" instruments in the latter years of the 19th century. But Lachenal's were the major exporters worldwide and I know that their instruments were being sold in (amongst others) Germany, Russia, the United States and the Colonies - winning a Diploma and Bronze Medal at the Melbourne Internatinal Exhibition, 1878, a Diploma of Merit at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition, and likewise at the Adelaide Internatinal Exhibition in 1887.

 

It is interesting that your advertisements date from 1865 onwards, since George Case himself (perhaps the third-most famous English concertinist of the 19th century) toured in Australia and New Zealand with his wife Grace Egerton in the mid-1860s (when both a reef in the goldfields and a even a goldmine were named after her), which may explain the seeming popularity of concertinas bearing his name in Australia that you've referred to elsewhere.

 

Below is an engraving from the Illustrated Melbourne Post, 24th September 1864, of the two of them onstage at the new Polytechnic Hall, Melbourne, and that's probably his concertina(s) on top of the upright piano, to the right of the stage:

 

b48871.jpg

 

There is a wonderful account of one of their performances in the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXIV, Issue 142, 25 November 1865, Page 2, and the stage set sounds remarkably similar to that depicted in the Melbourne engraving:

 

MISS GRACE EGERTON and MR. G. CASE, AT THE ODD-FELLOWS' HALL.

 

The gift of mimicry that enables certain individuals to, as it were, step out of themselves, and, at a moment's notice, put on the exact semblance of another — " his very features, gait, and form, in his manner as he lived " — must either be more generally diffused among us in these latter days than it used to be, or it is an art that practice has greatly developed, or (which probably after all explains the phenomenon) its public exhibitions have proved themselves so generally pleasing and attractive, that a much larger number of persons than formerly have found it worth while to devote their talents to this style of entertainment, as the names of the professional exhibitors of " character sketches " are now legion. ... they have had plenty of imitators, but very few have started with the same natural advantages for their purpose, as the clever couple, Mr. and Mrs. George Case, who are now sojourning for a few days amongst us.

 

Mr. Case we quite well remember when, as a very young man, his performances on that then novel instrument, the concertina, was one of the chief attractions of Jullien's ever-popular Promenade Concerts, and the years that have passed since then have been employed by him in perfecting his acquaintance with the varied powers of the instrument, of which he is at this day an unrivalled master. He is also no mean pianist ; and on the violin, if he does not quite reach the perfections of Joachim or Sivori, produces effects that remind one very strongly of those inspired fiddlers. As an actor, he puts on a certain affectation of fatuous good humour, which fits him to take the part of a musician, " quite bemused with love," with considerable humour and effect. He is thus enabled to lend the most efficient aid to his wife, née Grace Egerton, an actress of great versatility, with a very pleasing and natural elocution, charming personal appearance, and a voice of unusual compass, which she has learnt to manage with great dexterity. With all these advantages, and the aid of Edmund Yates as a collaborateur, who has produced a little drama, in which the jokes are numerous and pointed, and the thread that holds it together of rather stronger material, and more ingenious combination, than is common in these productions, Mr. Case is enabled to present to his patrons an Entertainment that is really entertaining in the highest degree, which is more than can be said of many exhibitions aspiring to the same cognomen.

 

The opening soirée was given on Thursday night, at the Odd-Fellows' Hall, which was crowded almost to inconvenience. We were delighted to see this, as it augurs the existence of a cultivated taste in our population that they thus show appreciation of a class of amusement which, while only professing to have enjoyment for its object, is to a certain extent of an intellectual character, and does not appeal for its succese to any of the grosser instincts that are too commonly relied on in the colonies as incentives to public patronage.

 

When the curtain rose at eight o'clock, the scene presented was that of a prettily furnished drawingroom, with pictures on the walls, and a handsome piano at the side. This is explained by Miss Egerton to be a part of the suite of apartments which her aunt's necessities oblige her to let to any eligible bachelor who may offer. She herself arrives from a walk, much flurried at having been followed by a young musician, living " over the way," and whose dulcet strains have almost won her heart, although she is somewhat distressed at the pertinacity of his attention. At length he comes to hire the apartments, in the hope of thereby obtaining an interview with his charmer. The lady not liking to be thus pursued, resolves to drive him from off the premises, by assuming the character of her aunt, Mrs. Kubbard — a lodging-house vampyre of the most obnoxious type — which she docs to perfection, and after some parley, eventually frightens him from his purpose, by an extortionate demand for unheard-of " extras," euch as " use of coal-skuttle and doormat." She had previously appeared unto him as "Katty Mooney," an Irish servant- of-all- work, who nearly sweeps him out of the room with her broom, but quite charms him with an Irish song, and Irish jig of the moet Hibernian vivacity. He, however, returns to the charge, resolved to submit to the " extras " rather than forego his chance of seeing the beloved one, when there enters to him one " Captain de Boots," a military swell of the profoundest inanity, who menaces him in a languishing tone with extirpation by pistol bullet, if he persists in his pursuit of the military gent's cousin, Grace. The next visitor is " Deborah Griggs," a charity girl, who favours him with a recitation of her accomplishments in all the 'ologies, and a song of such a powerful description that the poor musician's ears are perfectly scarified thereby. She is followed by an equally exasperating bumpkin of the opposite sex, " Noah Wurzel," whose ignorance and stupidity are only to be surpassed by the clumsy agility of his clog hornpipe. Poor Case, grown desperate by delay, then disguises himself admirably as a London cabby, of hoarse voice and loose principles of morality, who, by a harrowing description of the horrible suicide of the poor gentleman " over the way," frightens the lady into a confession of her esteem for him ; he reveals himself in propria persona, they pronounce an effective " tag," and are supposed to " live happy ever after," as men and woman invariably do (on the stage) when they are once married. And this is the " drawing-room " finally " let."

 

In the second part, we find the couple at their wits' end for the means to keep the pot boiling, for which purpose they are busy in devising an " Entertainment." While the husband is pondering on the best sort of characters to choose for this, he is successively visited and worried by " Mrs. Ferret," a female of ubiquitous curiosity, who knows what every body in the street has had for dinner ; the " Wizard of the East," a most potent conjuror, in a flaming oriental robe, who performs some feats of magic with great dexterity and neatness, after the manner of Professor Jacobs ; " Molly Brown," a servant whose whole ideas are concentrated on the pleasures of the theatyre, and who favours her audience with a startling resumé of the plot of " Ben the Bargeman ;" Miss Tremlet, an old lady much troubled with " nerves and a game leg," who warbles a melancholy ditty on her own fading attractions, to the tune of " Old Dog Trays" and finally " Boots," who has been subjected to such an utter deprivation of sleep, that his life is one gigantic yawn. All of these the artist finds to his astonishment have been personated by his wife, and really his surprise seems not to be unnatural, for in many of the presentments I the assumption is so perfect, the change of voice, dress, and manners, bo sudden and so complete, that it is almost impossible to trace through all these varied disguises, the one charming and graceful actress Mrs. Case.

 

In the first part, Mr. Case played " the Last Rose of Summer," and "Home, sweet home!" on the concertina, in a way to melt the souls of his audience to tears ; and being encored, brought back their smiles with an amusing imitation of the bagpipes. In the second part he displayed his versatile powers by his manipulation of the violin, which in his hands became a squalling child, a screaming demon, or a seraphic voice at the will of the performer, besides going through all the weird and well-known phrases of the Carnival di Venise.

 

The curtain descended amid the most rapturous applause about eleven o'clock, and the audience departed after nearly three hours of real and genuine enjoyment. The entertainment is to be given for five more nights, but its details and characters will be entirely changed each night. We wish the talented entertainers a measure of success equal to that of the first night.

I've also come across references to them performing at the Mechanics' Institite, Ballarat on various occasions in 1864/5, 1866 and 1868 (reported in The Ballarat Star, 31st December 1864/4th January 1865, 21st April 1866 & 2nd/26th February 1868).

 

We certainly had loads of melodeons and other accordions in from England from 1880 onwards but not many 'tinas.

Though you can be sure that those melodeons/accordions were not actually made in England, but were shipped to Australia by their English importers.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Nice photo, Stephen!

 

While we are on the (very) broad topic of 19th century concertina production in England and shipment to Australia, George Case, and the extent to which German concertinas were sold even in England (Warren's concern that 'since Australia was really seen as 'part of England' ' they might have gone with English-made instruments, like the English presumably did), here is a little advertisement from 1855 that shows the extent to which English makers were concerned with the German challenge at home. We've all seen the snobby, demeaning treatment that people playing these German and Anglo-German instruments endured in the late 19th century press; this ad shows that it was more than musical taste...it was business, and the heat was on.

 

The Musical World, v. 33, p. 223, 1855:

 

THE CHEAPEST CONCERTINA.

Messrs. Boosey and Sons beg to state that Case’s Four-Guinea Concertina is sold at a trifle above the cost price, for the express purpose of superceding the worthless instrument called the German Concertina, which, from having but half the proper number of notes, is thoroughly useless in a musical sense. Case’s Four-Guinea Concertina has double action and full compass, and is a perfect concert instrument. A Post Office Order for Four Guineas will ensure the delivery of one in any part of England. Case’s Concertinas may also be had of every quality and price, from L4 4s. to L12 12s. each. Instruments exchanged and let on hire. Boosey and Son’s Musical Instrument Warehouse, 28, Holles-street.

 

Sorry for the Ls...I cannot find my symbol for pounds sterling.

 

Case's was still not the 'cheapest concertina', by a long shot. In 1860, a German concertina in Dublin cost as little as 6s, one fourteenth the price of that Case English system. By the 1890s, the price had fallen to 2s 6d for the least expensive German models. George Case failed at making instruments and was bought out by Boosey and Sons, about the time of this advert (according to George Jones). I wonder if it was part of a general shakedown within the English makers, while they tooled up to start making and selling Anglo-German concertinas themselves. By the early 1860s, Lachenal, Jones, and probably others were building them.

 

Although both English system and German/Anglo-German systems were played in the Australian bush, available photos show that the Anglo-German system was the preferred one.

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Nice photo, Stephen!

Thanks Dan, though that's a wood engraving. ;) However here is a photograph of "MRS. GEORGE CASE (Grace Egerton)", a carte de visite souvenir of the Melbourne performances, from my collection:

 

GRACEEGERTON2.jpg

 

And judging by a poster for their performances at the Spa Concert Room, Harrogate, in 1872, there was probably "one for everybody in the audience", or at least "to every purchaser of a 3s. and 2s. Ticket"...

 

graceegertonposter2.jpg

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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We've all seen the snobby, demeaning treatment that people playing these German and Anglo-German instruments endured in the late 19th century press; this ad shows that it was more than musical taste...it was business, and the heat was on.

Umm, so you think the music critics of the day, like George Bernard Shaw, had a vested interest in promoting the English concertina? (The makers generally didn't, they were busily churning out Anglos for almost half a century by that time.) Surely it was simply that they were writing from a classical perspective and a good English, like those played by the Bros. Webb, was to them evidently far superior to the simple 20-key German concertinas and the music of "the midnight mohock*"? ponder2.gif (I'd suggest that, in modern terms, you should read "gang members" for "midnight mohocks" and substitute ghetto blasters for German concertinas!)

 

{*The original mohocks were a violent London gang in the early 18th century, who caused trouble and violently attacked people on the street at night. They used this name after the visit to England in 1710 of four Mohawk Indians.}

 

Notice the policeman in the background, watching the trio below:

 

Midnight_Mohawks.jpg

 

Indeed, there was a strong feeling, by the 1890s, that a new name needed to be found for the English concertina, because its reputation had been so damaged by such "performances" on its German cousin. Hence the appearance of the new "artistic" Æola and Edeophone, and new "artistes" like Christine Hawkes and Eva Taylor, in an attempt to relaunch the concertina as a serious instrument.

 

Although both English system and German/Anglo-German systems were played in the Australian bush, available photos show that the Anglo-German system was the preferred one.

For reasons of cost, as you've just demonstrated, it naturally would have been, but of course the English is a much less limited and ultimately more musical instrument than your typical German concertina, so not surprisingly it was often taken up by some more musically adventurous players.

 

Ask Warren Fahey, the originator of this thread, after all he plays it himself! Warren_Fahey.jpg

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Umm, so you think the music critics of the day, like George Bernard Shaw, had a vested interest in promoting the English concertina? (The makers generally didn't, they were busily churning out Anglos for almost half a century by that time.) Surely it was simply that they were writing from a classical perspective and a good English, like those played by the Bros. Webb, was to them evidently far superior to the simple 20-key German concertinas of "the midnight mohock*"? ....the English is a much less limited and ultimately more musical instrument than your typical German concertina, so not surprisingly it was often taken up by some more musically adventurous players.

Hi Stephen,

 

The acid comments of 19th century press critics went well beyond just concertinas, and they were only partly about ‘classical music’, and much more about ‘class’ in that era. Check out the Irish Times of July 1876:

 

Sunday bands are a regular nuisance, but naught compared to the dulcet strains that one is forced to listen to on a journey to Kingstown or Bray on a Sunday. Why is it that passengers are forced to listen to such instruments as two-stringed fiddles, cracked concertinas, broken-winded bagpipes, and last, not least, coffee pots transformed into flageolets. Really the railway company should have more compassion and consideration for their third-class passengers…..

Dublin must have been a very quiet city yesterday, for there was a general meeting in Kingstown of all the squeaking pipes, hoarse fiddlers, derelict banjoes, and consumptive concertinas that daily soothe the savage temperament of the citizen. On the Carlisle Pier they created a noise - to put it mildly - more striking than effective, and it never lagged in power or continuance. The two yacht clubs were, of course, the centre of attention, and on their balconies were grouped hundreds of the handsomest and most fashionable ladies of Dublin and its environs.

 

As one can easily see, it was not just the German concertinas that were inferior, but also the fiddles, Irish pipes, and flutes as well…all wrapped into the same bundle, and all annoying the fashionable. Would you say that the Irish pipes are less musical than an English concertina? The fiddle? The wooden flute? The press was owned by the upper class establishment, as you doubtlessly know. Playing a bunch of silly peasant music was just, well, not progressive, and these beggars should be playing Mozart and Bach like proper modern humans. Inasmuch as the English concertina was aligned with the upper class in those days of the middle nineteenth century, the press supported it...you will never read a review as acid as the above words about a Case or Segwick or any other player of any skill level in concert with an English concertina in the middle 19th century. Even later when the English concertina went 'down' to the middle class music halls, it was still generally treated with respect by music critics in the press. Not so for anything we now would call 'traditional music'.

 

Not just in Ireland, but England and America….same press treatment, for example this review of an 1877 free open-air classical music concert in New York City, where large numbers of the general public attended: ‘The result of this [free concert] … has been to simulate a taste for good music among many of the lower classes who attended … and to make them abhor those tunes which are nightly heard on the concertina’. Or this English music critic of 1904, who wrote who wrote, ‘The German concertina is admittedly an inferior instrument. Still, we must not sneer at the thing. I believe it does give a measure of enjoyment to some of our hard working people; it is better for them to listen or to dance to a German concertina than to hear no music at all. In time they will learn to like something better’. Clearly, people of the better classes had ‘better’ types of music to listen to, according to these press sources.

 

Pity that the English concertina got mixed up in all that, as it is a wonderful instrument (I play both). But given a full length CD of the Brothers Webb vs one of Elizabeth Crotty or William Kimber, I can tell you which would hold my attention for the full play. Which concertina is a more ‘musical’ instrument depends upon who is playing, and also who is listening. Others may choose differently…to each his own, as long as no one claims an innate class superiority of music type, as the press once did. Almost all of us today tend to be much more open to music genres outside of the Western European ‘classical’ ideal than similar folks were a century ago, and that is a great thing.

 

As far as the makers go, with them it was about business...that was the point I was mainly trying to make. I think that that Boosey and Sons ad from 1855 is probably representative of the first reactions of several builders and music writers (Sedgwick’s tutors, for example, express a similar sentiment)....they echoed the sentiments of their then-upper crust customer base. The record shows that any such sneering as in Boosey's ad did not last long among builders….most of them retooled and built anglos as fast as they could, once they saw where the sales lie. The press took many decades longer before they turned around.

 

Cheers,

Dan

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The acid comments of 19th century press critics went well beyond just concertinas, and they were only partly about ‘classical music’, and much more about ‘class’ in that era. Check out the Irish Times of July 1876:

...there was a general meeting in Kingstown of all the squeaking pipes, hoarse fiddlers, derelict banjoes, and consumptive concertinas that daily soothe the savage temperament of the citizen. On the Carlisle Pier they created a noise - to put it mildly - more striking than effective, and it never lagged in power or continuance.

Seems to me this belongs in the "Sessions" thread. ;)

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