About the Concertina Library

by Robert Gaskins

Documents for the study of English, Anglo, and Duet concertinas: history, instruction books, sheet music, patents, technical papers, rare periodicals, and new research by many leading scholars. Full texts to read, download, and print —all free.

The goal of this site is not to catalogue information available in libraries or books, but to post the information itself in full right here, or to link to it in full on other websites, ready for immediate use by everyone, everywhere in the world.

More about www.concertina.com.

contributors Contributing Authors

Credit is due to the contributing authors for the great bulk of everything in the Concertina Library. Click on any contributor's name to see a directory of items contributed.

More about all contributing authors

This page contains a column over on the far right (the yellow one) listing directories of the major documents available here. These sections don't change very often. Each link leads to a directory with descriptions of many documents—several hundred in all. The column running down the middle (white) has descriptions of the latest few documents to be added to the website. You can subscribe to receive email whenever new things are added, a few times a year. We also have one of those RSS feeds to subscribe to the same notifications. Finally, this column (the gray one) lists information about the Concertina Library site.

We are actively seeking more historic documents, more audio and video, and more research contributions from additional authors. There is no physical limit within sight to limit the growth of the Concertina Library.

Have feedback? There is a real working email address at the bottom of every page on this site for further communication to its author. You can also email me directly at .

forums Online Discussion Forums
at Concertina.net
For lively discussion of topics raised here (and much more) the best place is the forums at Concertina.net. There are specialist forums dealing with topics such as concertina history and concertina making, and most of the people you'd want to talk with about concertinas post here. Recommended.

More about how to link from postings at concertina.net to documents here

sectionsDirectory of the Concertina Library
The major sections of this website, a good place to get an overview of what is available here. More…
archives Archives of Contributions

There's a complete archive of everything on the website and when it was posted, going back to the beginning in 2001. There is a very thorough site search with a search box at the top right corner of every page.

other-sites Guide to Concertinas on the Web

Or, go to a directory of all other websites, including custom search boxes to search each of these websites individually or all of them at one time.

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Click here to see the XML version of the What’s New Archive

The orange button above will locate the XML file that you can use in an RSS feed aggregator to receive notification of all new entries and links published on this site. This is a very low-volume feed, with a few new items appearing every few weeks. An email subscription to the same information may be better for most people.

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What’s New

worrall-anglo-in-united-states Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834–1930
by Dan Worrall
Although the Irish are known for their long folk memory, the story of how of concertina playing began there has been largely lost; it is often tagged to a threadbare tale of mariners bringing them up the Shannon estuary to Clare. This paper reconstructs its history by using period accounts from newspapers, books and family histories to document the social gatherings where it was played, and the vendors who sold it. The Anglo-German concertina was enormously popular all across Ireland during its heyday, amongst people of nearly all social and economic groups. The concertina is a much-favored instrument in County Clare, Ireland, and a few players there bridge the gap in time between the instrument’s heyday in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and the current revival, which began in the 1970s. Its later concentration in Clare was not a result of how it arrived, but of local cultural and economic factors that aided its barest survival there while it was completely dropped—and all but forgotten—elsewhere in the country.
Posted 15 November 2007
» read full article
atlas-ladies The Victorian Concertina: Some Issues Relating to Performance
by Allan W. Atlas
Present-day players of the ‘English’ concertina must make a number of important decisions when delving into and performing the large repertory of art music that was written for the instrument in Victorian England. These decisions become especially critical for those who would perform the music in a manner that may at least approximate the way it may have sounded in the nineteenth century. Originally published in Nineteenth-Century Music Review, 3/2 (2006), 30 pages including photographs and musical examples. Briefly, there are three basic decisions to be made. The first two concern the choice of instrument: (1) modern instrument or period (Victorian) instrument; and (2) if the latter, what kind of instrument in terms of reeds (type of metal), tuning, structure of the bellows and number of buttons. The third decision, on the other hand, has to do with a fundamental question of playing technique: should we use three or four fingers of each hand?
Posted 15 November 2007
» read full article
worrall-anglo-in-united-states A Brief History of the Anglo Concertina in the United States
by Dan Worrall
In the United States the Anglo-German concertina was very popular during the middle and late nineteenth century, but by the early twentieth century it had all but vanished from American popular culture, becoming only a Hollywood symbol of “the old days”. After the revival of interest in traditional music and in concertinas from the 1960s the Anglo has once again had some popularity in the United States, but without connection to any tradition of its earlier widespread use in America. This paper attempts to reconstruct a basic history of the Anglo concertina in the U.S. by using nineteenth-century tutors, newspaper mentions, anecdotes from family histories, and archival photographs. Topics discussed include the early use of German concertinas in the Eastern U.S., the use of Anglo concertinas by Mormon and other western pioneers, use during the War Between the States, use by African-Americans, use in nautical contexts, use by immigrant and other ethnic groups, and use by the American branch of the Salvation Army. Some previously unpublished photographs are included.
Posted 15 April 2007
» read full article
atlas-ladies Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers: the Gendered Concertina in Victorian England, 1835–1870
by Allan W. Atlas
This study looks at the 978 women for whom there are 1,769 transactions—about 12% of the total—recorded in nine extant Wheatstone & Co. sales ledgers that list the firm’s day-to-day sales from April 1835 to May 1870. It is in two parts: (1) an Introduction, which analyses the data presented in the Inventory from a demographic-sociological point of view and places Wheatstone’s commerce with women into the context of its business activity as a whole; and (2) the Inventory (with three appendices), which lists every transaction for each of the 978 women, identifies as many of them as possible, and offers a miscellany of comments about both the women and the transactions. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle v. 39 (2006). 239 pages. Briefly, the roster of Wheatstone’s female customers reads like a list of Victorian England’s rich-and-famous: the Duchess of Wellington and 146 other members of the titled aristocracy (more than twice as many as their male counterparts), the fabulously wealthy philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts, members of the landed gentry, and such mainstays of London’s musical life as the guitarist Madame R. Sidney Pratten, the organist Elizabeth Mounsey, and the contralto Helen Charlotte Dolby, as well as a large number of Professors of Concertina.
Posted 21 March 2007
» read full article
jeffries-man-and-family Charles Jeffries: the Man and His Family
by Chris Algar, Stephen Chambers, Robert Gaskins, David Lee, Randall C. Merris, and Wes Williams
New information about Charles Jeffries and all of his family that participated in the concertina making business. Contains the first known pictures of Charles and Mary Ann Jeffries, and reproductions of birth, marriage, and death certificates where known. Summary table of Jeffries descendants. Brief descriptions of the addresses where Charles Jeffries lived and worked, with maps of the Praed Street area, White Lion Passage, and the Kilburn area. Based on information from members of the Jeffries family.
Posted 15 November 2005
» read full article
merris-marie-lachenal Marie Lachenal: Concertinist
by Faye Debenham and Randall C. Merris
New photographs, genealogical data, and information about Marie Lachenal, eldest of Louis Lachenal’s daughters, and about her family life as the wife of the photographer Edwin Debenham. First published in PICA [Papers of the International Concertina Association], Vol. 2 (2005), pp. 1–17. The web version adds large colour photographs and additional information which has been discovered since the text went to print.
Posted 15 November 2005
» read full article
eydmann-life-and-times The Life and Times of the Concertina: the adoption and usage of a novel musical instrument with particular reference to Scotland
by Stuart Eydmann
This much-anticipated study is the first book-length account of the history and development of the concertina, in the context of the people who played it and their music. It is based on field work as well as historical research, and deals with the concertina in traditional music, art music, sacred music, band music, the music hall, and many forms of popular music—reflecting the richness, contradictions, and complexities of music and society over the more than 150 years since the invention of the concertina as the high-tech sensation of its day. Twelve chapters, bibliography of more than 400 items, over 90 figures and musical examples, 365 pages. Text of thesis for the Ph.D. degree, Open University, 1995. Supervisors: Dr Peter Cooke and Dr Richard Middleton.
Posted 15 August 2005
» read full document
digby-faking-it “Faking It”
by Roger Digby
with a section on the Duet Concertina by Kurt Braun
Subtitled "A guide to selecting appropriate chords on the Anglo and Duet Concertinas". Explains how to play the concertina from a “fake book” or “busker’s book”, which gives a melody line and an indication of the chords for accompaniment. 16pp. Originally published for the ICA, 2004.
Posted 15 August 2005
» read full document

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concertina nomenclature

Concertina Library Sections

Click on any section below
to see its directory:
english English Concertinas
English concertina, the innovative free-reed musical instrument invented by Professor Charles Wheatstone about 1830, associated with formal concerts and parlour ensembles. More…
anglo Anglo Concertinas
Anglo concertina, the result (circa 1850) of applying English-style design to a German concertina system; once associated with folk music and pubs, now widely used in Irish and other music. More…
maccann-duet Maccann Duet Concertinas
The Maccann duet concertina (1884), first successful expansion of the English design with the aim to make it easier to play a melody with its accompaniment or multiple parts simultaneously; associated with professional performers in music hall and variety theatre. More…
other-duet-systems Other Duet Concertinas
Other duets: two early designs which never became popular, two more designs which were competitive with the Maccann duet, and two new designs introduced since 1950. More…
fingering Fingering Charts for Concertinas
by Wes Williams
Keyboard diagrams for nine concertina fingering systems: English, Anglo, Maccann Duet, Early Wheatstone Double Duet, Early Wheatstone "Duett" Duet, Crane (or Triumph) Duet, Jeffries System Duet, Late Wheatstone Chidley Duet, and Hayden (or Wicki) Duet. More…
instruction Instruction for Concertinas
How to play the concertina, complete tutor books for English, Anglo, Maccann Duet, and several other duet systems, plus advice on how to play and audio and video recordings of players. More…
music Music for Concertinas
Sheet music of arrangements for concertina (mostly duet, so far), some arranged recently and others going back more than fifty years. A special set of six tunes with notes for beginners, and a group of tunes for Christmas. More…
history and reference History of Concertinas
Full copies of the important patents and many historic documents, articles on concertina history, a book-length doctoral dissertation, photographs of vintage instruments, pricelists, manufacturers' records, and much more. More…
technology Technology of Concertinas
Papers on concertina systems design, how to fit baffles, comparative reviews, information on the historic concertina makers, sources for repairs, etc. More…
research Research on Concertinas
Current research into concertinas and concertina history, articles by leading scholars, classic papers, work in progress, a bibliography of all known concertina tutors, and much more. More…
photos Photographs of Concertinas
Photographs documenting typical and un-typical vintage concertinas. (Only a beginning so far; photographic documentation of other interesting instruments would be welcomed.) More…
dating Dating Vintage Concertinas
Information which can help to figure out manufacturing dates of vintage concertinas, such as studies of their serial numbers, manufacturing records, price lists, and other documents. More…
ledgers Wheatstone Concertina Ledgers
Horniman Museum
High-resolution colour photos of every page of C. Wheatstone & Co. sales records from the late 1830s to the 1860s, production records from the 1860s to the 1890s and from 1910 to 1974, and some early records of wages and other cash payments. More…
pricelists Concertina Pricelists
by Chris Algar
A unique collection of nearly 40 pricelists for vintage concertinas, mostly found in old concertina cases. Excellent coverage of Wheatstone prices and models in particular, useful for dating. More…
calculator Convert Historic Concertina Prices
by Randall C. Merris and Robert Gaskins
An interactive calculator to convert sterling values from any year 1830–1999 to the equivalent value in the year 2000. Use either “old money” (prior to 1971) or new decimalized currency. More…
makers Historic Makers of Concertinas
The historic makers of vintage concertinas, including (so far) C. Wheatstone & Co., Lachenal & Co., C. Jeffries Maker, George Jones & Sons, H. Crabb and Son. More…
ebay Worldwide eBay Listings
by Robert Gaskins
Concertina listings from eBay sites around the world. Includes current auctions from eBay United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Taiwan, China, and India. More…