Paul Hardy's #3 George Case Baritone Concertina

Pictures of George Case Baritone Concertina

Case end   Case edge   Case bellows Case label
End view   Edge view   Bellows Label

Description of George Case Baritone Concertina

My George Case baritone concertina is hexagonal with fretwork wooden ends veneered in rosewood or mahogany, with 48 metal keys. The bellows are green, with a goldy coloured patterned transfer on each segment.

One one end, in an oval aperture in the fretwork can be read "CONCERTINA, GEORGE CASE, BOOSEY & CHING, HOLLES ST, LONDON". No serial number is visble.

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.

It was in good condition, and all notes play. It was in tune with itself and close to concert pitch (more later). However someone had removed the internal wooden baffles which were previously behind the fretwork, and as well as losing the visible serial number, this has slightly warped the ends. I later inserted new spacers to correct this.

Unfortunately it came without its original box, but with a good modern box from Barry Wallace.

The reeds in this instrument are brass, rather than the steel used in later instruments. This gives it a softer more mellow tone. Combined with the fact that as a baritone, its notes are an octave lower than the more common treble, it has a very pleasant tone.

My time with this concertina

The instrument was bought from at the West Country Concertina Players weekend at Kilve, Somerset in March 2001 for the sum of 650. The seller was Guido Bos, from Belguim. He in turn had bought it from a year earlier from Barry Wallace at Kilve.

Barry says:
"The George Case Baritone was offered to me in 1991 when the Butleigh Court Concertina Band, which I was a member of, was playing in a concert at Bruton, Somerset. A lady approached me saying she had an old instrument like ours in a carrier bag in her loft, previously owned by a relation I believe. It was literally a bag of bits having been dismantled some time before, but fairly complete apart the baffles and fingerplates. I bought it and restored it fitting new valves, pads, thumb straps, fingerplates etc., and retuned it to concert pitch. I subsequently sold it to Ron Marks in 1993 who later sold it to Guido Bos in March 2000."

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 for the missing baffles. He was unable to find a serial number, and wondered if it had been built by a piecework worker from spare parts! It was very similar in appearance to another Case baritone he had which had a serial number of around 3000 and dated from about 1860. Discussion on about George Case label variants would also indicate a similar date, as Boosey and Ching was a short-lived transition during 1859-1864 between Boosey and Sons, and Boosey and Co.

Although the instrument sounded nice by itself, and merged well enough into ensembles, I always knew that it was overall sharp, with some notes up to 25 cents away from concert pitch equal temperament. Eventually I concluded that it was originally in 1/4 comma meantone tuning around A=443. So, in 2018, I retuned it down to modern concert pitch (A=440), and to equal temperament so that it plays well with other instruments.

Do you know anything more about this concertina ?

Use paul at paulhardy dot net to send me an email message if you know anything about this instrument.

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