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gcoover

Lachenal Anglo Dating

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I'm currently restoring twin Lachenal Anglos, #121324 and #121325, and found a penciled note inside one of them: "tuned by Louis Miller, 706 Mission St., S.F. Cal., May 21, 1897". Both instruments are identical 41-key C/G with squeak and baby cry, ME, BB, 7F gold-tooled bellows, steel reeds, and square "Jeffries-style" reed chambers (right side normal, left side slanted). The "G" rows on both have some strange reeds out of sequence. The serial numbers are stamped on the reed pans, and are on a little piece of paper on the action pan. Does anybody know anything about Mr. Miller or what date these serial numbers would indicate? Thanks!

 

Gary

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Gary,

 

The best date indication I can give you at the moment is 1885 - 1896 for instruments in the range 104001..140500.

 

best wishes ..wes

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Both instruments are identical 41-key C/G with squeak and baby cry, ME, BB, 7F gold-tooled bellows, steel reeds, and square "Jeffries-style" reed chambers (right side normal, left side slanted)

Apart from the bone buttons, they sound very much like the catalogue description of Lachenal's

 

"SPECIAL. ANGLO MODEL. - Very loud tone. 39 Keys. Tuned in C, B flat or A flat as ordered. Moulded Nickel Plated Tops, Ebony sides, Nickel Keys, 7-fold leather bellows. In Mahogany Box. ... ... £13 0 0"

 

but with the addition of "whistle & squeaker" buttons.

 

If so, I have had examples of them in all those tunings and they are excellent concertinas, much better than the average Lachenal. The buttons are usually in "Jeffries layout".

 

The "G" rows on both have some strange reeds out of sequence.

Do you mean that the G row buttons are moved one-up on the left hand side ? If so, that is termed "Artistic Fingering", and it is sometimes found on Jeffries 39-key instruments. It seems to go back to some of the early German concertinas, sold in the 1850's, that had the G row offset that way. I have two early Nickolds anglos with the same arrangement too, both a 20-key and a 28-key. If you played across the rows, and were already used to having the notes like that, you would have needed to have any new concertinas, that you bought, built to match.

 

However, the system is now obsolete, and I have always rearranged the reeds in the ones I have been given to tune, to make them more "normal" (it should be perfectly feasible).

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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but with the addition of "whistle & squeaker" buttons.

 

I was shown these curious items on a Jeffries, just how were they used and does anyone use them today?

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but with the addition of "whistle & squeaker" buttons.
I was shown these curious items on a Jeffries, just how were they used... ?

With discretion, I would hope.

 

...and does anyone use them today?

I know someone who used them for novelty effect on a demo tape he made a couple of years ago.

 

I don't know of any tunes that deliberately incorporate them, but when I get a few other things done I might take that on as a challenge. :ph34r:

Unfortunately, my instruments with such buttons are elsewhere at the moment, so I'll have to imagine the effect. B)

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The "G" rows on both have some strange reeds out of sequence.

Do you mean that the G row buttons are moved one-up on the left hand side ? If so, that is termed "Artistic Fingering", and it is sometimes found on Jeffries 39-key instruments. It seems to go back to some of the early German concertinas, sold in the 1850's, that had the G row offset that way. I have two early Nickolds anglos with the same arrangement too, both a 20-key and a 28-key. If you played across the rows, and were already used to having the notes like that, you would have needed to have any new concertinas, that you bought, built to match.

 

However, the system is now obsolete, and I have always rearranged the reeds in the ones I have been given to tune, to make them more "normal" (it should be perfectly feasible).

Well, the "G" rows are certainly not "artistic" - but I've yet to figure out the reason for the unusual notes. The reed pans have been altered very professionally (probably at the factory) to fit the different reed frames. The sequence goes like this from left to right (keeping in mind they have 19 keys on the left and 22 on the right):

 

LHS: B/C.....D/F#.....Eb/C#.....B/C.....D/E.....F/C#

 

RHS: Bb/C#.....F/F#.....B/D.....D/C.....G/E.....B/F#

(both the unusual F and D are an octave higher than expected)

and there are the two buttons Eb/E and Eb/D underneath - that D is the lowest D on the instrument!

 

If none of this makes sense, let me know and I'll try to post a fingering chart.

 

BTW, Hi Jim and Stephen - we met once way back in 1979 when I was enroute from Houston to New England to Old England in search of Morris Dancers and concertina players - glad to hear you're both still at it!

 

Gary

 

P.S. I did an internet search on the penciled 1897 address on the reed pan, and there is a 10+ story building on that site in San Francisco now!

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If none of this makes sense, let me know and I'll try to post a fingering chart.

I'd love to see the full layout, but my first thought is that all the duplicates seem to have been eliminated. E.g., it's standard to have G/A buttons in both the C-row and the G-row of the left hand, but yours in the G-row has been replaced by Eb/C#, which (assuming a standard 3rd row) gives you those notes in both directions. Similarly, the C-natural replacing the duplicate pull D. (These days, a standard alternative there is A, rather than C, but I have myself considered putting a pull C there. It's a very important note that is missing from the 30-button layout, but inconsistently -- and IMO awkwardly -- placed on those instruments with more buttons that do include it.)

 

So it looks to me like duplicates were removed, and desired, otherwise-missing notes put in their places, though in the right hand that seems to have ignored the general principle of higher notes to the right of lower ones (as one looks at the end in standard orientation).

 

BTW, Hi Jim and Stephen - we met once way back in 1979 when I was enroute from Houston to New England to Old England in search of Morris Dancers and concertina players...

I do remember, though I had long since forgotten your name. (Nothing personal. I'm like that with names. I've been known to forget my own brother's name while introducing him.)

 

P.S. I did an internet search on the penciled 1897 address on the reed pan, and there is a 10+ story building on that site in San Francisco now!

Sounds familiar. A similar thing happened to a wonderful Chinese restaurant in SF that a friend took me to in my university days. When I went back a few years later, it had been replaced by a high-rise office building. :(

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I'm currently restoring twin Lachenal Anglos, #121324 and #121325, and found a penciled note inside one of them: "tuned by Louis Miller, 706 Mission St., S.F. Cal., May 21, 1897". Both instruments are identical 41-key C/G with squeak and baby cry, ME, BB, 7F gold-tooled bellows, steel reeds, and square "Jeffries-style" reed chambers (right side normal, left side slanted). The "G" rows on both have some strange reeds out of sequence. The serial numbers are stamped on the reed pans, and are on a little piece of paper on the action pan. Does anybody know anything about Mr. Miller or what date these serial numbers would indicate? Thanks!

 

Gary

Hi Gary, Apologies for bringing up such an old thread. Possibly your questions from 2004 have been answered. However, I'm currently researching Louis Miller and may have some relevant information for you about him, if still of interest. Do you still have the concertinas?

 

First, here's a (poorly) digitized reference on the early years of the musical instrument trades in San Francisco:

http://www.archive.org/stream/musicaltrade185000unit/musicaltrade185000unit_djvu.txt

 

Louis Miller is discussed under accordions (which he manufactured; the dates are usually given as ca.1883 - 1917).

In that paper, you'll see a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 12, 1898, which reads in part:

 

"Owing to the weight of a concert accordion it is a difficult instrument for a lady to manipulate and he is now planning a lady's concertina with a perfect chromatic scale."

 

As you know, in the mid-late 1800s there were many different free-reed keyboard designs invented, many motivated by this same desire to increase chromaticism in a small instrument.

 

Concertinas were known in San Francisco of course, including english-made instruments. Miller seems to have been preceded in San Francisco as an accordion maker by C. C. Keene, who is said to have made concertinas, flutinas, accordions, etc. from the 1860s. In the 1980s, I found examples of nice London concertinas from 1850 - 1870s, surfacing in San Francisco after having been there for many decades, and concertinas are known with shop labels specifying San Francisco addresses that disappeared with the 1906 earthquake. When I lived in Berkeley in the 1980s, one of my concertina students had an ancient "concertina foot bass" that had been made in San Francisco around the turn of the century, but I don't recall if it was made by Miller or another shop. BTW, I have several successive addresses for Miller now, subsequent to the one he wrote in the concertinas you mention. But the 1906 earthquake and fire drastically changed the map of the city, long before the changes Jim noticed in his own lifetime.

 

At any rate, it's great to have your documentation that Louis Miller worked on (and possibly ?? experimented with the layout of ) English-made concertinas in the late 1890s. Later, ca 1902 - 1906, he seems to have made a series of interesting small accordions such as those discussed here (note that you may need to register and login to melodeon.net to see all the photos posted):

 

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,5536

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,5706.msg171157.html#msg171157

 

I'll be developing a database of Miller's instruments (often dated internally), their specifications and addresses, and photos where available. It might be good to include instruments that he repaired and modified as well. Thanks for any insights that you (or others) can add.

 

Edited to add: see this new thread on Louis Miller's accordions (mostly):

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,14968.0.html

 

Paul Groff

Miami, Florida, USA

groffco at gmail dot com

Edited by Paul Groff

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Paul,

What wonderful research you've turned up! It's never to late for good historical research.

 

After some initial work I gave up on these two twins with consecutive serial numbers since that bizarre G-row would make them pretty much unsellable. I added pads and valves just to get them playable, but then didn't have much choice but to leave them in their respective tunings and pitches (one higher than the other).

 

However, the good news is that due to his boundless sense of concertinistic curiosity, Greg Jowaisas is now the proud owner of both (or at least he was two years ago, and I'll bet they're still sitting in his workshop somewhere).

 

I've attached some photos, including one of the Louis Miller inscription. Send me a PM with your email and I'll be glad to send you all 25 or so photos.

 

How about that crazy big air pad, utilizing the big hole in the middle of the reed pan! Can't say I've seen that before.

 

I wonder how Mr. Miller fared during the 1906 earthquake, and if these two instruments were survivors as well?

 

And I really wonder if Greg ever sorted out why that inside row had so many unusual reeds???

 

Gary

 

P.S. I just now noticed the wear on the handrests of both instruments, so that would indicate they were both well played by someone who most likely created and understood the strange tuning. I wonder who that could have been, and what type of music did he or she play?

post-322-0-36753600-1403340057_thumb.jpg

post-322-0-59097200-1403340088_thumb.jpg

post-322-0-04943700-1403340138_thumb.jpg

post-322-0-89899600-1403340192_thumb.jpg

post-322-0-91082400-1403340237_thumb.jpg

Edited by gcoover

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Hi Gary and Paul,

I still have the "twins", which apparently have remained "unseparated" since birth". The only work I have done is to tighten up the bellows on each instrument. Otherwise they have remained as I received them from Gary.

 

Even in their present, relatively unrestored state they are strong sounding instruments. One is obviously a C/G based instrument. The other is closer to C#/G#. The workmanship is excellent, both careful and deliberate. I believe the present layout is as from the factory.

 

Changing the present layouts to something more conventional is not a casual task. That is a big reason they have remained on the back of my workbench as I periodically ponder what should be done.

 

When time permits I will generate a layout for interested parties.

 

If someone is interested in purchasing the "twins" (I think they should be kept together) I would consider reasonable offers.

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas

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