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JimLucas

"french" (?) Concertina

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Investigating the "S.C. Taylor" instrument has led me to reconsider this instrument that was on eBay. Malcolm Clapp brought it to our attention, saying,

Would seem to be of French origin, reeds look very "harmonium" in style.

Any one know anything about French makers?

And Stephen Chambers responded,
Concertinas were listed in the Great Exhibition (1851) prospectus of Julien Jaulain, of Paris, who also listed flutinas, and a small harmonium called the "panorgue".

 

Another French maker was Alexandre, whose firm did a lot of harmonium business with Wheatstone's.

Externally, it looks virtually identical to the S.C. Taylor instrument -- identical fretwork, same kind of wood, identical bellows, washers under the endbolt heads, note names and colors on the buttons, which are the same size, -- but internally they're quite different. The obvious difference is that the Taylor instrument (I'll call it "T") has standard concertina reeds, but the eBay instrument (henceforth "E") has French-style harmonium reeds. Unfortunately, I've seen no photos or description of the lever mechanism in E, so I can't compare that with T.

 

However, the holes in the pad board are smaller in E than in T, and it even looks as if the board itself is smaller, but set into a slightly larger hexagonal "frame", the difference being filled in with another material. Could that be just some sort of mark from the bellows frame? Looking there, it does look like the frame itself may be thicker than normal, as if it had been thickened under the chamois, but it doesn't look like it could account for the appearance of the edges of the pad board.

 

So I'm going to speculate that E was built by the same maker (Scates?) as T and originally was virtually identical to T, but that at some later time the reed pans, reeds, and pad boards of E were replaced by those coming from a French-made instrument, with some adjustments necessary. Re-reading the sellers statement on the instrument, (s)he seems to be saying something very much like that. I wish I knew more about why, when, and where the substitution was made, and the story of the French instrument the reeds came from.

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