Paul Hardy's Wheatstone Treble Concertina 8461

Pictures of Wheatstone Concertina 8461

Click on any of the images for a full screen version. More pictures below.

Wheatstone picture Wheatstone picture Wheatstone picture
Wheatstone Treble Action Insides

Description of Wheatstone Concertina 8461

My Wheatstone treble concertina is hexagonal, with 48 ivory keys in white, black and red. The ends are rosewood fretwork, with dark green leather covering the thumb loops and finger support. The bellows are dark green leather, with white panels with green criss-cross transfer on each segment.

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)

 

 
BY HER MAJESTY'S LETTERS PATENT
C WHEATSTONE
Inventor
20 Conduit St, Regent St
LONDON

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".

Origin of this Concertina

The serial number 8461 can be looked up in the Wheatstone sales ledgers now online at www.horniman.info as being first sold on 2nd June 1856.

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.

How I got this Concertina

The instrument was bought from Barry Wallace at the West Country Concertina Players weekend at Kilve, Somerset on 29th March 1999 for the sum of 250. He in turn had bought it from Ben Setter who was also at the weekend. Ben had had it for many years. It was the first concertina that he had owned. The price was low from two counts:
  1. Brass-reeded instruments like this early Wheatstone are not very popular at present as most people want an instrument to perform with, and the brass reeds are much quieter than the steel reeds of later instruments.
  2. Ben wasn't looking to make a profit, he wanted the concertina to go to someone who was actively learning (Thanks).

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.

Maintenance of this Concertina

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)

More Pictures of Wheatstone Concertina

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!

Wheatstone reedpan Wheatstone reedpan Wheatstone bellows
Reedpan inside Reedpan outside Bellows insides

Wheatstone action Wheatstone pad holes Wheatstone outside
Action Pad Holes Outside

Do you know anything more about this concertina ?

If you do, then send me an email at paul at paulhardy dot net.


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