One one end, in an oval aperture in the fretwork can be read:
At the other end is a serial number, 8461, which dates it to 1856 (see section below)
20 Conduit St, Regent St
Unfortunately it came without its original box.
It is an English concertina, which means that it produces the same note when a key is pressed, regardless of whether the bellows are going in or out. The other main type of concertina is the Anglo, which gives different notes according to bellows direction, like a mouth organ does.
The reeds in this instrument are brass, rather than the steel used in later instruments. This gives it a softer more mellow tone. I use it particularly when practising, as it isn't as loud as my Lachenal Excelsior.
It is in good condition, all notes play sweetly, and it is accurately in tune with itself and with concert pitch. The only known problem when I bought it was cracked leathers on the inside of the bellows folds (see below for details and remedial action).
Inside the instrument is a label saying "Repaired and Tuned 11/86 by AC Norman, 157 Garlands Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6NY, Tel Redhill 67067".
The actual ledger page 9 lists it as being sold to a Mrs Scaife, for the sum of 5 pounds 12 shillings. She bought four that day, priced between 7 pounds and 3 pounds 3 shillings, so this was a mid-priced instrument.
I took advantage of the fact that Colin Dipper was giving a concertina maintenance workshop at the weekend, and he dismantled and examined it, pronouncing it in good shape except that the interior thin leather on the inside of the bellows folds has cracked in several places. Colin provided me with some very thin leather for patching, and advice on how to use it, and I later patch repaired the broken folds myself.
As described above, the inner leathers were cracked, and although I had patched them, they were still deteriorating. In addition, there were about three corners which had pinholes, letting air escape. I contacted Steve Dickinson who now owns the Wheatstone company ( www.wheatstone.co.uk), and he sent me some skived leather for the inner folds, and some pre-shaped bellows patch corners.
I then took off the old inner leather hinges using a scalpel and thin nosed pliers, and used pva glue to put new leather butterfly hinges in. The material was grey pigskin rather than the original white (probably calf leather), but seems to work fine. It isn't visible unless you take the instrument to pieces anyway!
More maintenance was needed early in 2001, when one reed (a low F), went flat. I took the instrument over to Steve Dickinson in Stowmarket, and he manufactured a replacement reed and tuned it while I waited. Excellent service, and very interesting to see his workship full of original Victorian equipment.
More recently (November 2001), a spring went on the low D. I temporarily replaced it with one made by cutting and bending a safety pin, but I have sent an order off to Steve for proper replacement (and a set of various spares - springs, pads, corners)
The following pictures were done by the simple expedient of putting the concertina on the bed of my HP Scanjet 4200C scanner! If you look carefully you can see the safety pin used as a temporary spring!
|Reedpan inside||Reedpan outside||Bellows insides|