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Concertina.net: Minor Makers and Dealers Update

 
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I wrote this update in early 2005. I've completely failed to produce any further update since, but concertina history has moved on quickly, with other contributors (like Randy Merris, Stephen Chambers, Dan Worral, Chris Flint, Geoff Crabb and many more) producing in-depth articles on the subject. This update remains here for historical reasons, but is also a reminder on how little we knew (and how little was available) only a short time ago.


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Update Version 2; April 2005.
©2001,2005; Wes Williams.


This page is an updated section of the original article at concertina.net. Updating the article has proved difficult because of the rate at which new information has been appearing. Although I hope to release a full update sometime in 2005, much new information has already appeared in the Concertina History Forum at concertina.net, where you will be able to find many people willing to help with further questions.

Contents

Jabez Austin Ball Beavon Barnet Samuel
Boosey & Co. R.Carr George Case
Rock and Edward Chidley J.B.Cramer & Co. Dove
Dowsett Ebblewhite Henry Harley
Keith,Prowse & Co. Myers Nickolds
Parker & Son Roylance Joseph Scates
A.B.Sedgwick Shakespeare John Simpson
Vickers Wallis

Neil Wayne's account of the early concertina years shows that many of the early makers were originally associated with Wheatstone. A lot of the industry was supplied by small companies, or even individuals, who specialised in making a certain part of the concertina. It was therefore possible for someone to set up as a manufacturer if they had enough knowledge of the suppliers. With the limited information available, it is impossible to produce any real dating information for these smaller manufacturers, other than to note their approximate periods of operation. The following descriptions give what information I have, using the Horniman collection as a basis, along with some instruments which have recently been offered for sale. Of all the UK makers listed in the Horniman collection, I have not been able to obtain any further information on only Arthur J. Woodley.

A recently introduced resource on the Internet provides opportunities for research into dealers and traders. The Historical Directories website contains a large number of searchable directories for locations throughout the UK.

Jabez Austin
Jabez Austin set up on his own account about 1850. He appears as a concertina maker in a directory listing for 1856 as Austin, Jabez, 3 Crombie's Row, Commercial road east. He died in 1857, and his business was taken over by his pupil, George Jones (see section).

Joseph Scates - 40 Frith Street,Soho.
A former Wheatstone Tuner, Scates set up sometime around 1844. The Frith St. address was the house of his father Joseph, who in 1839 ran a 'Stationer and Porteusian Bible Warehouse', and where Scates Jnr is listed as a musician . He appears to have moved to 32 New Bond St. from 1847-49. He quickly sold out to George Case and by 1851 had set up in Dublin as:

Joseph Scates, Professor of the Concertina,
28 Westmoreland St Dublin
11, Wellington Rd Ballsbridge

After 1851, Scates traded from various addresses, the final directory entry appearing in 1866:

1852:Rathmines Rd
1856: 26 College Green
1858: 27 College Green & 8 Church Lane
1862: 27, College Green & 8 Church Lane, Dublin; & 1,Longford Tce, Kingstown
1864 to 1866: 15 Westmoreland St

Many, if not all, of his Dublin labelled instruments were supplied by Lachenal or Jones. The highest serial number in the Horniman is 547. A Scates instrument No. 467, was sold by Wheatstones in July 1852.

George Case - 32 New Bond Street.
'Professor' George Tinckler Case seems to have been much more of a musician and tutor, although Neil Wayne says that he originally worked for Wheatstone. He produced many tutors and arrangements. He first appears in listings in 1850 at New Bond St as a Seraphine Maker, but from 1851 this is changed to Concertina Manufacturer. George Jones says he took over from Scates, and around 1856 sold out to Boosey. The earliest 'Case/Boosey' labelled instrument in the Horniman is No.1571, and the nearest 'Case' to that No 960. However Case was buying from Wheatstones in 1851 and 1852,(as was Boosey) so it is possible that some Case labelled instruments may carry Wheatstone serial numbers.

Boosey & Co.
Boosey took over Case around 1856, and their instruments are classified in the Horniman as "George Case of Boosey and ..." where the name following 'and' has variations.Here are some instruments and their labels.

1571,3048 Boosey and Sons
2788 Boosey and Sons, Holles Street,London.
3169,3248 Boosey and Chin(g)
3496 Boosey and Co, Regent Street,London.

There are no Case/Boosey instruments numbered over 4000 in the Horniman. Since Boosey & Sons became Boosey & Co about 1864, it may be possible to assign numbers in the 3100 region to around this date. Boosey and Co moved to Regent St about 1874, so the latter instrument may be of that date.

Robert Dowsett
Two directory entries for Dowsett is the only evidence so far found. In 1852 he is listed as a concertina maker, and in 1856 as Musical Instrument Manufacturer, at 18, New Gloucester St., Hoxton

William Dove - 20 Poland Street, Oxford Street.
Dove, another Wheatstone worker, started manufacturing around 1850. He did not remain in business for long according to Jones, and the company was taken over by Keith, Prowse & Co.. Directory listings for Dove disappear after 1852. The two Horniman Dove instruments are Nos.217 and 234, and the lowest Prowse No 1156 (Keith, Prowse and Vicker).

Keith,Prowse & Co.
As noted above the lowest 'Prowse' in the Horniman is No 1156, and the highest No.4842. It is interesting to note that 'Mr. W Prowse',who ran the company from 1846 to 1865, purchased 16 concertinas from Wheatstone during 1851 (but none in 1852). The Keith, Prowse and Vicker instrument above probably dates to before 1865, and the Keith, Prowse and Co instruments (Nos. 1360 and 4842) after that. By 1888 they were selling rebadged Lachenals from 48 Cheapside.

A 'Thomas Prowse' English has recently been offered for sale (Feb. 2001) by Hobgoblin, but this is not connected. He operated from 13 Hanway St from 1835-60 and from 15 Hanway St. from 1860-68, and is listed as buying various instruments in early Wheatstone records.

Nickolds
According to information from the Crabb family and other sources, John Nickolds (b.1787 in Birmingham) was the toolmaker for Wheatstone, and was replaced by Lachenal in 1848, with his own company at 5, Woodbridge St, Clerkenwell. He had two sons, Frederick Charles and Thomas, also involved with Wheatstone. John Crabb joined with Nickolds to form 'Nickolds, Crabb & Co.'. John Crabb left the company about 1856 to work for Lachenal, before forming his own company in 1860.

The earliest listing discovered for any of the Nickolds family as a concertina maker appears in 1856; in 1851 John is listed as a 'machinist'.

The business became Nickolds Bros, listed as operating from Woodbridge St. between 1856 and 1859. However in 1856 the brothers are also listed individually as:
'Fredk. Chas. Nickolds, Goulden Terrace' and 'Thos. Nickolds, 7 Lower Brunswick Terrace, Barnsbury Road, Islington.'

F.C. Nickolds' company closed about 1888. Their sequence was:

5 Woodbridge St [1856 - 64]
143 Holloway Road [by 1866]
44 Norland Rd, Notting Hill[by 1876]
F. C. Nickolds & Son,203 New North Road,[by 1880]
156 Kingsland Road [by 1888]
159 Kingsland Road

Thomas Nickolds does not appear in any further listings, but is recorded in the 1881 census as a concertina maker, widowed and lodging in Newington.

The Horniman has a few instruments,those up to No.8310 are 'Nickolds Brothers', whereas No.8335 is 'F.C.Nickolds'.

In his article on Lachenal noted above, Stephen Chambers notes that one characteristic of Nickolds instruments is that the screw holes of the plate that fastens the reed to the shoe are open ended. He also notes a single sided 'hook action'.

Later listings for Nickolds Bros. as musical instrument sellers in the 1920s in Enfield, Middlesex are a strange echo. They were descendants of the same family.

Rock and Edward Chidley
Rock Chidley produced the often featured ivory ended instrument for Wheatstone in 1848, left Wheatstone sometime around 1850, and according to Jones, set up near Oxford Street. The address found on instruments,'135 High Holborn, London', near New Oxford St., was in fact the family address. He was definitely manufacturing by 1851 and exhibited at the Great Exhibition of that year advertising :

ROCK CHIDLEY begs to call the attention of the Nobility and the public visiting the Great Exhibition to the very great improvements he has discovered in the manufacture of his CONCERTINAS, amongst which are his newly invented Glass Studs, working on a double fulcrum action, and a variety of other improvements, which are very obvious to the admirers of this instrument.

The Wheatstone sales ledgers show a 'Baritone Chidley' being sold on 12th July 1852. However the market for concertinas was competitive, and in 1856 he advertised his prices as being 'further reduced by 25% from last years prices'.

The British Library lists two tutors published by Rock Chidley, one ascribed to Edwin Chidley, presumably a mistake for his brother Edward. One of these tutors, published in 1858, says that the firm then had two factories, 'Hollingworth Street North, & Wellington Street, St. James's Road, Holloway', which were also listed in his 1856 advertisement. It seems probable that the company closed sometime around 1867, when it disappears from listings. It may not be co-incidence that Wheatstone seem to acquire a capability for their own mass production under Edward Chidley at the same time.

Although working together initially, Edward seems to have made some concertinas in his own name, and is independently listed from 1861 to 1870 at 28 Store St, Bedford Sq. By 1870 Edward is listed as an Importer and Maker of Harmoniums and Concertinas at Wheatstone's address.

The highest Chidley serial number in the Horniman is 5204.

T.Shakespeare Oakley Street, London SW
Thomas Shakespeare appears in listings from 1884 to 1892 at various numbers in Oakley Street, Lambeth. A first hand report from ICA member Will Gardham described watching a Mr Shakespeare, then aged 50 or 60, making concertinas in 1908 at Camberwell Road. This age accords with an 1881 census record for Winstanley Rd, Battersea of Thomas Shakespeare, concertina maker, aged 35.

There is also a listing in 1921 for J Shakespeare as a maker of English, Anglo, & duet concertinas at 211 Camberwell rd SE 5, which is corroborated by a J.J.Vickers price list c.1923 (in Chris Algar's collection) which advertises new Shakespeare instruments, so given that Thomas would have been in his mid seventies by then, it seems possible that two Shakespeares, perhaps father and son, were makers.

John Simpson
The Horniman has a few instruments by this maker, and also a 'Simpson and Weipper' instrument. This latter instrument must date to about 1870, as Simpson and Wieppert formed a short lived partnership about 1869-1872. A tutor, 'Easy Method of Learning the Concertina, by John Simpson, Teacher of the Flageolet' was published in 1855. His addresses were:

1826-30:260 Regent St.
ca. 1830-69: 266 Regent St.
1869-72:266 Regent St. (as Simpson and Weippert)
1874-75:14 Argyle St.
1876-79:32 Argyle St.

Simpson appears many times in the earliest Wheatstone records. It seems that he stopped buying from Wheatstone sometime between Spring 1848 and January 1851, so it may be possible to narrow the date of instruments that contain Wheatstone or non Wheatstone features.

A.B. Sedgewick
Alfred B. Sedgewick published a tutor for the English in 1854. The Wheatstone records show a Sedgwick concertina, No.169, being sold in 1852. Sedgwick was a member of the Blagrove-Case-Regondi-Sedgwick concertina quartet, founded in 1844. He emigrated to New York about 1851, and further details of his American concertina exploits (often with his son Charles) in the Brooklyn area, may be found in the archive for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle at http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/eagle/.

Cramer & Co.
A Cramer has been recently seen for sale in the Netherlands, bearing the imprint J. B. Cramer & Co., 201 Regent St. This company was not formed until 1872, so this instrument must be from this date or after. It has another label 'Selected by Richard Blagrove' which ties in well with the fact that Blagrove (1827?-1895), who was a major figure among classical concertina performers and arrangers, became very popular, especially after a concertina recital in 1868 at Windsor Castle at the invitation of Queen Victoria.

Another instrument by this maker is in the Horniman.

Charles George Roylance
Roylance was more of a dealer than manufacturer. He was however, an accomplished concertinist and wrote many tutors. Randall Merris extracted this interesting snippet from one of his tutors:
"The English Concertina was invented by Professor Charles Wheatstone . . . and was introduced to Public notice in June 1838. The first instrument was sold to Capt. Gardner of the 2nd Life Guards, it was then called the "Symponian" [sic] with bellows, and not until December 27th of that year, was it named the Concertina."
The very same 'open pallet' concertina is in the possession of forum member Stephen Chambers, and stamped 'T.Gardnor'. Roylance's company was located at the following addresses:

ca. 1865-78:38 Charlotte St.
1879-93:184 Tottenham Court Rd.
1893-98:220 Tottenham Court Rd
1899-1901:113 Hampstead Rd
1902-11:122a Drummond St
1912-38:88 Seymour St

Roylance is also recommended as a supplier for concertina parts in an early 1890s Victorian D-I-Y magazine, so he was still actively involved in concertinas at this date.

Parker and Son
A single instrument in the Horniman bears this label. It may possibly relate John William Parker, a music publisher, who was located at 445 West Strand ca. 1832-63. The company became Parker (J.W) & Son in 1851.

Ball Beavon
Ball Beavon was a dealer who established a wholesale musical instrument business in the 1880s. In 1888 he is listed at 31 Aldermanbury, EC, an address listed from 1868 to 1884 as the concertina and musical instrument maker Ilkee & Horne, and in in Maccann's guide in 1888 as Ihlee and Sankey, concertina dealers. By 1902 the firms address was 5 Skinner St., Bishopsgate St. EC, and by 1921 they had been incorporated into Faudels Ltd of Newgate.

It appears that all types of instruments sold were rebadged with the firms own label. Ball Beavon instruments appear to be Crabb in origin.

Barnett Samuel
This company eventually became the 'Decca' record empire, from their success after patenting the first portable gramophone in 1914.
It was founded in 1849, when Barnett Samuel moved from Sheffield to found a musical instrument business in London.The following dates show that the concertina seen recently with this label dates from 1878 or later.

1849: 31 Houndsditch and 27a Duke Street.
1872: Barnett Samuel & Sons
1878: 32 Worship Street, London, E.C.
1901: Barnett Samuel & Sons Ltd

Henry Harley
The four sided instruments made by Henry Harley are some of the most distinctive in the Horniman collection. They use the same construction techniques as German made instruments. The first listing for Harley appears in 1874 at 22 Brunswick Place, City Road, N. London and these listings continue at the same address until 1888. An instrument bearing a Harley label has been indentified by Dr. Maria Dunkel as being made by the German maker Bassler (of Grünberg, Saxony). According to Stephen Chambers (2004):
Harley seems to have modified German concertinas to give them a more "English" appearance. This "Anglicisation" (or should that be "Anglo-icisation" ?) usually involved cutting out the areas of the end that had a pattern of holes drilled in them, German-style, and replacing them with fresh timber in which fretwork was cut, English-style. The ends were then sanded down (which tended to also obscure the numbers of the buttons stamped into them, German-style) and ebonised (to hide what had been done). The German woodscrews in the ends were replaced with endbolts, and they were given leather bellows. He also added some extra notes, with smaller buttons, to them.

Ebblewhite
John Henry Ebblewhite styled himself 'real Maker and Importer' and claimed to be able to supply any type of instrument at a low price, including a 'Best English Concertina, "Double Action", in Rosewood Case for £3 10s" . Founded about 1840, the firm was based at Aldgate.

Myers
There seem to be two E. Myers associated with concertinas. Edward Myers was a concertina dealer,and in May 1856, having obtained an Interim Order of Protection from Process, he appeared as an Insolvent Debtor at the Court House, Portugal Street. At this time he operated from Mount Street, Whitechapel Road. In the same year, Emanuel Myers is listed at 7A Crown Row,Walworth rd, and in 1865 we have E. Myers of 1 Black Prince row, Walworth Rd listed as a musical instrument manufacturer. Entries from 1869 to 1884 give Emanuel Myers at 27 Walworth rd SE, and instruments bearing this label are reported as being made by George Jones.

J.J.Vickers
As the name of J.J Vickers is found stamped inside many instruments, it is worth briefly documenting the firm here. Vickers were established in 1887 according to their own labels, and became the largest concertina dealer in the London area. They were located in Royal Hill, Greenwich, becoming J.J. Vickers & Son about 1923. They were still operating in the late 1950s, and are listed in the ICA handbook for 1957.

R.Carr
In a recent discussion at concertina.net, it has been stated that R.Carr was an outworker for Jeffries, and some of his instruments became available when the contents of his workshop were sold after his death. It therefore seems that he was no longer working for Jeffries, so perhaps these instruments may date to the early 1920s, when the Jeffries company broke up.

Joseph Wallis
A few instruments, of both Lachenal and Jones origin, have been reported bearing the label of J. Wallis, Euston Road. The firm was established in 1848 at Providence Street, Walworth, and from 1858 was at 6 Union st. Borough SE, moving to No 14 in 1865. The firm moved to 133 & 135 Euston Road in 1867, where they remained until 1928. The firm became J Wallis & Son in 1887.



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