Early Wheatstone Duett System Duet Concertina


Wheatstone's early “duett” concertinas look very much like early Anglo-German instruments, but with different internal construction and a true "duet" arrangement where each button plays the same note on both push and pull. The keyboard is identical to the central notes of the later Maccann Duet Concertina, and anyone who can play a Maccann can pick up a Wheatstone Duett and play immediately in the keys of C or G.

The Wheatstone tutor for this instrument (reproduced in full here) was deposited at the British Museum 28 July 1855, and was probably published after 1850 (the previous large deposit of Wheatstone publications).

In addition to the tutor, Wheatstone & Co. published twelve books of music for the 24-key duett, all carefully noted in the keys of C and G only (of necessity).  The first six books were stamped at the British Museum 28JY55, at the same time the tutor was accessioned.  Then the next four books were stamped 21DE59, with a new title page as well listing more music for duett.  The last two books were stamped 16AP62.

The earliest known advertisement was placed in The Scotsman (Edinburgh) on Wednesday, 20 December 1854, offering (along with conventional English concertinas) "The Duet Concertina" in mahogany and rosewood, together with its tutor (this was seven months before the tutor was date-stamped at the British Museum). Fifteen months later a longer advertisement by Wheatstone was appearing in the Daily News (London), with the earliest of these found so far in the issue for Thursday, 13 March, 1856, offering the “novel” duett concertina for sale, along with the “tutor and seven books of airs”.

duett-wheatstone-tutor Instructions for Performing on Wheatstone's Patent Duett Concertina
by Anonymous (C. Wheatstone & Co.)
From page 2: "Many persons having formed opinions very prejudicial to the Concertina, in consequence of mistaking for the original, an imitation called the German Concertina, the public is informed that, the so called instrument is totally different (with the exception of the exterior) ... ." Published by Wheatstone & Co., deposited at the British Museum 28 July 1855. 21 pages. Trim size 6.5 inches by 10 inches.
Posted 15 February 2003
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gaskins-duett-no-64-pics Photographs of Wheatstone Duett duet concertina, serial No. 64
by Robert Gaskins
Photographic documentation of an excellently-preserved example of the Early Wheatstone Duett instruments from the 1850s, forerunners of the later Maccann Duet. 46 photographs.
Posted 15 February 2003
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duet-advert-1854dec20 Earliest-Known Advertisement for the Duett Concertina (1854)
by C. Wheatstone & Co.
An early Edinburgh advertisement for the Duett system duet concertina, from late 1854. The Scotsman (Edinburgh), Vol. 38 No. 3647, Wednesday, 20 December, 1854, page 1, column 3 (entire page). “Concertinas at Fryer & Thomson’s, 7 and 11 South St Andrew Street. THE DUET CONCERTINA. In Mahogany (24 Keys), £1 11 6; In Rosewood, Superior Finish (24 Do.), £2 2 0. Instruction Books, 2s.”
Posted 15 December 2004
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Daily News 13 Mar 1856 page 1 duett advert
duett-advert-1856mar13 Early Advertisement for the Duett Concertina (1856)
by C. Wheatstone & Co.
An early London advertisement for the Duett system duet concertina. Daily News (London), No. 3064, Thursday, 13 March, 1856, page 1, column 5 (entire page). “The Patent Duet Concertina, £1 11s. 6d, and £2 2s., with mahogany box. This novel instrument comprises two separate concertinas connected to play duets or melodies with an accompaniment. It is also admirably suited to the voice, and combines results not to be obtained in any instrument of the description. Tutor and seven books of airs for ditto, 2s. each. Inventors, WHEATSTONE & Co., patentees of the concertina, as used by the most celebrated performers at the public concerts, 20, Conduit-street, Regent-street.”
Posted 15 February 2003
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Daily News 13 Mar 1856 page 1 duett advert
horniman-wheatstone-concertina-ledgers Wheatstone Concertina Ledgers on the Web
by the Horniman Museum
Historical business records from C. Wheatstone & Co. are held at the Library of the Horniman Museum in London. The earliest ledgers from the Wayne Archives contain company sales records from the late 1830s to the 1860s (though with some large gaps) along with production records from the 1860s to the 1890s and some early records of wages and other payments. Later ledgers from the Dickinson Archives contain production records from 1910 to 1974, again with some gaps. All known ledgers have been digitized (some 2,300 pages in total) and made available free on this website for private research.

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Posted 15 April 2003; Updated 15 June 2005
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Early Wheatstone Duett
Early Wheatstone “Duett”,
24-key precursor of the
later Maccann Duet System