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W. Jeffries Maker


reg
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As a rare concertina, what kind of value might this hold? I've seen Charles' instruments offered for sale. Is this something that would be considered as valuable? Or would it perhaps be more so given it's rare nature?

Reg,

 

Playability and desirability are much more important than rarity with an instrument like this, whilst a W. Jeffries is pretty much of an "unknown quantity" since most players have never seen one - so it'll be worth less than a C. Jeffries. In any case, we still don't know for sure what it is, though there seems to be a pretty good chance that it's an Anglo after all, but then there's the question of what keys it's in, and what the layout of the buttons is. It may be that the middle rows are in the "home keys" of the instrument and the outside ones are accidentals (like a 4-row C. Jeffries), or possibly all 4 rows are in different keys. These factors will all affect the value, but it's going to be in the thousands anyway, if it is an Anglo.

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Okay, throwing caution to the wind, I gently pulled up the reed bed from the left hand side where the stuck reed was. Nothing looked out of place. So, I blew across the reed plates and found some light dust escaping. I thought that perhaps a little dust contamination could be the problem. I blew through the twin reeds in and out with just my breath to see if I could jump start the one that's been stubborn and that's all she needed to get vibrating again. So, I've everything working, all 96 reeds sound off.

 

Here's something else I found while in there. On the bellows, which look as though they have been repaired by someone in the past, I saw stamped twice the name

 

STAR MFG. CO.

2351 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago 47 Ill.

 

No zip code means that this stamp predates that period. I took a look online and Googled the info I found. There was only one reference to Star Mfg Co. It was a PDF file that someone posted online of a five page catalog from 1961 of instruments offered for sale by this company.

 

It appears that they made, and I guess, also repaired concertinas and accordions. Or perhaps they simply imported them for sale in the states. Or maybe they did it all.

 

I was surprised to see that their most expensive offering was priced $950. That would have been a great deal of money in the early 60s.

 

So, at some time in the early 1960s, or before, the Star Concertina & Accordion Mfg Company had a look inside this one and left their mark.

 

I got my pitch pipe out and started to determine what keys might be had and determined that the lowest note I can make on the left hand side is an Ab and the highest note on the left hand side is an Ab. While the lowest note on the right hand side is an A and the highest is a G.

 

I don't know what accidentals are. I have noted that you can get a fairly regular progression of tones, at least they sound regular to me, when pushing on the bellows as you traveling up a column, until the top of every column, where the notes turn into something unlike the rest in the column. I'd call it irregular.

 

As you can see in the pictures I provided, the notes are arranged in a kind of slightly bowed trapezoid shape. As I push the bellows and the RH buttons, I get the following. The buttons closest to the strap are on the left side of my diagrams below.

 

 

..................B

............F#..Bb

......A....F....D

E....Eb...A....F

Ab..G....C...Bb

C....Bb...F...D

Eb...Eb..(A) <------- the highest note is this A

Ab...G

C

 

Pulling the bellows I get these notes from the RH buttons.

 

...................C#

............Ab...A

......B.....E....C

F#.(G)....G....Eb <------- the lowest note is the G on the left

D....Bb...Bb...G

F.....C#..D.....A

Ab...F.....E

C....G

D

 

I'll send along the LH side notes later when I can get more time.

Edited by reg
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On the bellows, which look as though they have been repaired by someone in the past, I saw stamped twice the name

 

STAR MFG. CO.

2351 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago 47 Ill.

They were known for the big, square Chemnitzer concertinas, used by Polka players in the US.

 

As I push the bellows and the RH buttons, I get the following. The buttons closest to the strap are on the left side of my diagrams below.

 

 

..................B

............F#..Bb

......A....F....D

E....Eb...A....F

Ab..G....C...Bb

C....Bb...F...D

Eb...Eb..(A) <------- the highest note is this A

Ab...G

C

 

Pulling the bellows I get these notes from the RH buttons.

 

...................C#

............Ab...A

......B.....E....C

F#.(G)....G....Eb <------- the lowest note is the G on the left

D....Bb...Bb...G

F.....C#..D.....A

Ab...F.....E

C....G

D

So it looks like my suspicion is confirmed and you've got a very rare Anglo in 4 different keys (starting on the second button of each row); Bb/F/Eb/Ab.

 

As those are all flat keys, I guess it was intended to play with brass instruments, so it may have been made for someone in the Salvation Army.

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Does The Salvation Army actually play such a large role in the development of this instrument that one could expect to find comcertinas specifically created for use with this organization?

Yes, the Salvation Army concertina contract was very important for the maker George Jones in the 19th century, and he made a lot of 26-key Ab/Eb Anglos for them, many of which were marked with their crest, whilst General Booth's son Herbert wrote Instructions for the Salvation Army Concertina in 1888.

 

Many Salvationists were photographed with their concertinas, and I have a lovely cabinet photo of Herbert's sister Eva Booth with hers, which appears to be a C. Jeffries instrument:

 

post-9-1094966176.jpg

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Congrats !

 

And a similar and connective story

 

I bought a 38 Button C Jeffries from Star Concertina in Ab/Eb for the princely sum of $300 around 1993 ish

However it was in tacky shape and needed restoration, but all there and original.

Edited by Jeff H
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  • 4 months later...

Well, I guess that I'm still wondering what this might valued at, but given that it's as rare as it is, since few have ever even seen one, I also wonder if my question can even be answered. Can a value be placed on something this rare? Is it truly valued less than his father's work, even though his father's instruments are far better known and more of them are around? Have I stumbled upon the needle in the haystack? Does this rare example hold any interest to players or collectors? Or is it just an oddity?

 

reg

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Hi reg.

I've been reading this with interest. I'm a Duet player, and what you've got is definitely an Anglo. Having said that, I've never seen one that big!.

It would certainly be worth a considerable amount, assuming that W Jeffries was not that prolific as a manufacturer.

It might be that it would appeal to a collector rather than a player, but, It certainly looks like a significant instrument to me.

 

As far as maintenace is concerned. If you decide to take it apart again, a quick once over in all the reed chambers with a small soft brush (artists paintbrush) won't do any harm. For stuck reeds I often slide a thin cigarette paper between the reed and it's frame, just to remove any bits of crud, splinters etc. Always worth doing all the reeds whilst it's open!

If you are gentle all will be fine.

Maybe use a small suction pump to remove any dust from inside the bellows too.

 

Would love to hear how it sounds. Do you know any players locally? If I owned such an instrument, I'd certainly have a go at learning how to play it. But if you just want me to take it off your hands, I might be persuaded!! Seriously you have a very intriguing instrument. Well done! Keep asking questions.

Regards Ralphie

Edited by Ralph Jordan
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