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Ole Munch-Pedersen

Concertina Made By H. Dean

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I have an old concertina with the following information given on the inside:

 

"H. DEAN,

CONCERTINA DEALER,

TUNER & REPAIRER

21, STIRLING ROAD,

Lordship Lane,

WOOD GREEN, N.22.

----------------------

ESTABLISHED 50 YEARS."

 

It has an wellworn instrument case made from rosewood.

 

Can anybody suggest how old this may be?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Ole Munch-Pedersen

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Suppose I might as well start this off although there are many here far better qualified than me to give you an answer.

 

Not enough info to identify it as yet. It would be a good idea if you could provide photos of the ends and bellows and if possible a serial number, which you should obtain either from a label on one of the ends or by looking inside. Even if there is no number inside, that in itself could give a clue.

 

First clue is the rosewood case which could suggest Lachenal? - better wait and see.

 

Pete

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In the days when I used to deal in & repair concertinas, in London, I often came across H. Dean's label inside them, but I don't have any information about him.

 

However, as his label says, he was a "dealer, tuner & repairer", not a maker, so (as Pete suggests) more information about, and photos of the instrument would be a big help.

 

The rosewood case is no clue, as they were used by virtually all makers, usually for rosewood-ended instruments.

 

Edited for typo.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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Dear Stephen and Pete,

Sorry, I realise I should have included a photo in my first message. Here it is, anyway.

Apart from the labels from H. Dean, there are no clues who made the instrument on neither the outside nor the inside of the instrument. However, the number 15000 is visible through one of the carvings at one end of the instrument.

I realise this was never an expensive instrument, but it is in playable condition.

It has one blemish: a previous owner fro some reason painted the bellows black!

Yours,

Ole

post-9-1077556739.jpg

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Ole,

 

Thanks for the photo. Your concertina is an inexpensive, English system, one by Louis Lachenal, dating from the 1860's. Have you ever taken out one of the reedpans ? (They simply pull out, if you put your index finger through the hole in the middle.) There should be a circular label on the back of the pan, with all the note names and reed sizes (put there for the benefit of the tuners), which ought to have the maker's name on it as well, though it may have been removed.

 

The instrument appears to have mahogany ends, so it would have originally had a case made of deal, covered in black paper, your rosewood case is from a more expensive instrument.

 

The bellows may have been painted to hide damage/repairs, or because a previous owner preferred the appearance of later, more expensive, models with plain black bellows.

 

Cheers,

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Stephen

 

Do you think that the rosewood case might have been provided by Dean as a bit of added value in an attempt to move the concertina further upmarket ? I do have an old Louis Lachenal similar to Ole's (although needing restoration) and the case is a bit tacky to say the least.

 

Pete

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Pete,

 

Having been in pretty much the same line of business as H. Dean, I could imagine several circumstances where he might have changed the case (assuming that it was he who did it).

 

The case might have been badly damaged, or not suitable for the instrument when he got it, though, of course, it could be simply be that the purchaser asked for a nicer case with the instrument, and Mr. Dean had a rosewood one to spare.

 

It is very easy for a dealer to end up with a selection of cases that are looking for a new home (or should that be "looking to provide a new home" ?). Apart from "wrong" cases with instruments, you sometimes find that they were such a tight fit originally that they no longer take the instrument if you simply change the straps, never mind if you have to repair, or even replace the bellows. Then again, you are sometimes left with an old, hexagonal, case simply because the buyer wants a new square one instead.

 

As you mention, the old deal cases were "a bit tacky", but they did help to make it possible for Lachenal's to offer a significant reduction in the cost of the instrument when it was new. An 1862 Lachenal price list reveals the following inexpensive models/prices (Ole's instrument being No. 1.) :

 

1. THE PEOPLE'S CONCERTINA. Mahogany, in neatly covered box. ... £2 2s

2. Rosewood. Superior tone and finish. ... ... ... ... Mahogany Box. ... £3 3s

3. Ditto, best finish, Five-fold Bellows, best } ... ... Mahogany Box. ... £4 4s

finished

4. Ditto, best finish, Five-fold Morocco Bellows, }.. Rosewood Box. ... £5 5s

Moulded Edges

 

While the most expensive model listed ( No. 9., with ivory ends, and the options of gold reeds and double pans) would have cost an astronomical 20 guineas, ten times the price of the one in the deal box.

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...the most expensive model listed ( No. 9., with ivory ends, and the options of gold reeds and double pans)...

Ivory ends? Have you ever seen one of those?

 

How durable would gold reeds be?

 

And what are "double pans"?

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Thanks to everyone for information on my concertina.

I want to clarify one small detail. H. Dean's label is found inside the actual concertina as well as on the inside of the lid of the rosewood case.

I'm slightly puzzled that Dean should have been able to boast 50 years experience in the 1860's. Are the labels simply an indication that the instrument was repaired or resold by him at some later date? Does anyone know when he was actually in business?

I know it is an inexpensive instrument. Can anybody give me an idea of the actual price? It is not up for sale, I'm just curious. I myself bought the instrument at a junk dealer in Copenhagen some 10 years ago for the equivalent of 200 euro. It is in tune and in playable condition. I do use it now and again for the odd song.

Ole

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I knew I should have just said "with all the bells & whistles" !

 

Ivory ends?  Have you ever seen one of those?

The only ivory ended instrument that I have seen was made by Louis Lachenal, for Wheatstone's, it is number 1775.

 

How durable would gold reeds be?

Gold reeds were used in the later Wheatstone symphonions, they are probably no less durable than brass ones (and definitely worth a lot more if you do break one !)

 

And what are "double pans"?

"Double pans" were an attempt to solve the perceived difference in tone between the press and draw notes on an English concertina. They consist of a reed pan with partitions on both sides, to try to equalise the sound. Joseph Scates seems to have been the first maker to use them, followed by George Case (who took over Scates' London business), and also Louis Lachenal.

 

I have very fine examples by both Scates and Case, but I was once beaten to a Louis Lachenal one, in a London antiques market, by the American ambassador's daughter ! (Nearly a "diplomatic incident" !)

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Are the labels simply an indication that the instrument was repaired or resold by him at some later date?

Exactly !

 

Edited to add :

 

The numbered London post code, N22, indicates that the earliest possible date for the H. Dean label is 1917, the year the numbers were introduced, so your concertna may have already been 60 years old when it passed through Dean's hands.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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And what are "double pans"?
"Double pans" were an attempt to solve the perceived difference in tone between the press and draw notes on an English concertina. They consist of a reed pan with partitions on both sides,...

OK. It's what I suspected. I have seen a couple of Case concertinas like that.

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Hi all,

 

I have a Scates english with what might be a prototype for the double pans (actually double sound boards in this case): merely two baffles of waxed card placed in the bellows frames interior to the normal reedpans. The baffles have small cutouts to let air pass from the bellows through the reeds and are signed on both sides "Extra sound boards, Joseph Scates, inventor." The instrument itself is rosewood with bushed ivory buttons (#449), has an unusual, transitional Dublin label, has nickel reeds in square-ended frames, and is in 1/4 comma meantone (more-or less, still). The late Frank Butler was of the opinion that it may have been one of a batch of early experimental (unnumbered?) Wheatstones bought and later (numbered and?) resold by Scates. I am not sure that Scates or Case did not make it, but hesitate to disagree with Frank, whose experience was unparalleled. The fretwork is a common early type with spreading vines in a ringlike arrangement.

 

Paul

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Hi Paul,

 

I have a baritone Scates with the same internal soundboards, numbered 538, and perhaps the same transitional Dublin label ? (Mine reads "IMPROVED PATENT by JOSEPH SCATES, FROM New Bond Street, LONDON. SOLD BY MARCUS MOSES 4 & 5, WESTMORELAND STREET, DUBLIN.)

 

It also has most unusual white leather baffles behind the fretwork, which are stretched and glued to the lower edge of the hexagonal wooden frame that supports the fretwork, so that the edge of the leather is visible in the join of the sides. (It is very difficult to explain !) It seems to have been done to provide a kind of resonant membrane in the ends, an idea that various people experimented with on other instruments.

 

Another interesting, but unoriginal feature, was that it had been fitted (by an amateur) with handstraps, and bellows straps, when I got it, like an instrument on eBay that was recently discussed. (It started the "I Must Stop Trawling Around Ebay ......" topic.)

 

I very much doubt if these early instruments had anything to do with Wheatstone's, as Joseph Scates was the very first of their employees to leave and start manufacturing concertinas himself, in 1844, when their 1829 Patent expired. He was their first rival !

 

From what I have seen, the instruments he sold in Dublin were initially of his own manufacture, then ones made by George Case (who had taken over his London business), but he did start to buy concertinas from Wheatsone's (by the dozen !) in the mid 1850's, and then from Louis Lachenal. We also know, from Jones' memoir, that George Jones (who had been taught tuning by Scates) was another maker who supplied him.

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It also has most unusual white leather baffles behind the fretwork, which are stretched and glued to the lower edge of the hexagonal wooden frame that supports the fretwork, so that the edge of the leather is visible in the join of the sides. It seems to have been done to provide a kind of resonant membrane in the ends, an idea that various people experimented with on other instruments.

A banjo-concertina? Please say it isn't so! :o (Just kidding. Sounds intriguing.)

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Stephen,

 

My Scates has a white leather baffle that seems to be attached under the fretwork in the normal way. The label reads: JOSEPH SCATES/ Manufacturer/ 46 GRAFTON STREET/ DUBLIN./ FROM NEW BOND STREET, LONDON. I think I have thought of it as transitional because other Scates I have seen have had a different Dublin address (College Green? as in the Regondi tutor illustration) and lacked the mention of London. I have never seen one with a label like yours.

 

I bet there are records in Dublin that could establish when he worked at these different addresses. Possibly you have already checked into this?

 

Does yours have the early-type square-ended reed frames, the green 4 fold bellows with silk reinforcement, etc., like mine? I think these features together with the nickel reedtongues and mean-tone tuning led Frank to think mine was early (earlier, that is, than Scates' move to Dublin). He seemed to know of a batch of early experimental Wheatstones that were sold to Scates. If he had it right, the 449 number is not a Wheatstone serial number, because Wheatstone # 449 was not a 48 key, as mine is.

 

Perhaps Scates (or Case, Jones, or whoever made this) merely retained some "early concertina features" in instruments they built after Wheatstone had changed their specifications.

 

Again, I am agnostic about who made it, but I always thought the label, internal baffles, and Scates signatures interesting.

 

Paul

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My Scates ... label reads: JOSEPH SCATES/ Manufacturer/ 46 GRAFTON STREET/ DUBLIN./ FROM NEW BOND STREET, LONDON. ... I have never seen one with a label like yours.

And I have never seen one with a label like yours !

 

I bet there are records in Dublin that could establish when he worked at these different addresses. Possibly you have already checked into this?

Yes, I have gone through the Dublin directories, and found the following addresses :

 

1850-51 28, Westmoreland Street & 11, Wellington Road

1851-52 Rathmines Road

1852-56 26, College Green

1856-62 27, College Green/8, Church Lane (a corner site)

1862-66 15, Westmoreland Street (business taken over by Cramer & Co. in 1865)

1865-66 35, Baggot Street, Upper

 

But I have not previously come across that Grafton Street address.

 

Does yours have the early-type square-ended reed frames, the green 4 fold bellows with silk reinforcement, etc., like mine?  I think these features together with the nickel reedtongues and mean-tone tuning led Frank to think mine was early (earlier, that is, than Scates' move to Dublin).

Mine has most of the features you mention, except that the reeds are brass, and the bellows five-fold (it is a baritone). My guess would be that yours is of his own production, but it would be very interesting to see a photograph.

 

He seemed to know of a batch of early experimental Wheatstones that were sold to Scates.  If he had it right, the 449 number is not a Wheatstone serial number, because Wheatstone # 449 was not a 48 key, as mine is.

I suspect that Harry Minting might have told him about the entries in the ledgers, but they date from the 1850's, and all of them are numbered.

 

Perhaps Scates (or Case, Jones, or whoever made this) merely retained some "early concertina features" in instruments they built after Wheatstone had changed their specifications.

That certainly happened, but this instrument sounds early.

 

By the way, I used to do my banking in the building that replaced numbers 26 & 27, College Green and 8, Church Lane.

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A banjo-concertina?  Please say it isn't so!  :o 

Jim,

 

You can breathe again, it is made of soft white leather, not vellum !

 

(But it was glued in under tension.)

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