Paul Hardy's #14 Lachenal Concertina - 15584
Pictures of Lachenal 15584 before restoration
Description of Concertina 15584
It is an English Concertina, as invented and patented by Charles Wheatstone. So it is hexagonal with 48 keys, giving the same note pushing or pulling
(unlike the Anglo-German variety which have less buttons and are like a mouth organ giving different notes in the two directions).
It covers four full octaves with all sharps and flats (including enharmonic pairs like G# and Ab).
The ends are veneered and polished wood fretwork, with bevelled edges.
The bellows are green, with five folds, having a green stars on white coloured patterned transfer on each segment.
The five rather than four-fold bellows, and the bevelling rather than flat wood, are indications that this is not a lowest grade instrument,
however the coloured bone buttons indicate that it was for learners rather than experts, so not a top-end instrument.
On one end, in an oval aperture in the fretwork can be read "Louis Lachenal,
Patent Concertina Manufacturer, London". Lachenal was Wheatstone’s foreman who set up on his own in 1858.
He died in 1861, but his widow used the same label until she sold the company to a group of workers in 1873,
who thereafter used the label “Lachenal & Co”. So this instrument is earlier than 1873. At the other end is a serial number - 15584, probably dating it from around 1870.
The original thin white leather baffles are still in place. The reeds are brass in brass shoes.
It has its original box, wood with velvet lining. Unfortunately this holds it
in an 'ends-up' position, which was responsible for the damage to the valves (see below).
I bought it in March 2018 from a neighbour, fpor £200. Her deceased husband (Keith Mills) had inherited it from his maternal grandfather William Charles Pearce, who was born in 1873.
He and his two brothers had all been given concertinas by their father, who played harmonium.
William worked as a diver on the Manchester Ship Canal, then moved to Reading and for 35 years worked diving for the River Thames Conservancy. He died in 1949.
Initial state of this concertina
It was *not* in modern concert pitch – it was still in old London philharmonic pitch, so about a quarter-tone (35 cents) sharp.
Retuning to concert pitch is a non-trivial task – filing the right amount of metal off 96 reeds! It was however in tune with itself,
so could be played by itself, or with a singer, or a violin – but not with a piano or other fixed tune instrument.
The leather thumbstraps were very lightweight amateur replacements for the original ones, and need replacing with proper ones if it is to be played much.
The leather valves had drooped as the machine had been stored on its end, as well as stiffening, so they need replacing.
Its pads have not been replaced for many decades (if ever), and would need doing to get it playing well. However they work now for trying it out.
Several of the felt bushes round the button holes have perished and need replacing.
The screws holding the thumbstrap at one end had pulled out of the wood so that the thumbstrap was dangling free.
I’ve glued in a bit of cocktail stick and redrilled the holes, which is the approved technique, so it is tightly fitted again now.
It was missing three of the six key long screws (centre of thumbstrap, centre of finger rest, and top centre near the fretwork, both sides).
These pass the load of pulling onto the inner strong wood, so it is important to fix them, as otherwise the stress is taken by the fretwork.
I’ve got some near replacements (the original 3/4 inch number zero screws are no longer made, and are as rare as hen’s teeth), so I’ve put in a couple of those and one recycled one..
The veneer and fretwork is in good condition, considering its age – much better than others that I bought.
There is some cracking round the glued seams in the inner wood, but nothing serious that a bit of glue or filler wouldn’t fix.
Restoration of this concertina
The instrument is now quite playable. It needs to be "played in", but sounds very reasonable for an instrument that is over 150 years old!
It would still benefit from some more work - replace all the remaining old valves and pads.
I made and fitted new thumbstraps using a kit of leather parts from concertina-spares.com.
I replaced many of the leather air valves - those that had drooped or were worn. If I had more time I'd replace all of them.
I replaced the worst of the pads to stop air leakages - it would still benefit from a complete set of new pads
I reglued or replaced several of the wooden triangular support blocks that hold up the reedpans.
I reglued and replaced the bushes round the keys where they were missing or loose.
I reglued, filled and smoothed a few small gaps and cracks in the woodwork.
I patched with skived leather a couple of bellows corners to close pinprick air leaks.
I retuned all 96 reeds to within 5 cents of modern concert pitch. I use TE Tuner on an iPad as frequency references.
Pictures of Lachenal 15584 after Initial Restoration
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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