Posted 27 September 2004

How to Play the Concertina,
by John Hill Maccann

Robert Gaskins

How to Play the Concertina:
English, Anglo, German, and Duet Instruments

by J. H. Maccann, C.A.M.

A new document has been discovered, a booklet authored by John Hill Maccann. It is reliably dated to 1902, and this copy was discovered in Australia where Professor Maccann was making an extended performing tour during that year.

The text of the document consists of two parts: (1) a part of the "how to play" text from Maccann's earlier publication The Concertinist's Guide (1888); and (2) an interview with Professor Maccann reprinted from The Era theatrical newspaper of London, issue of 25 January 1902.

In addition to the text, the booklet contains some new photographs of Maccann, including the first known photographs of him playing the concertina. There is a formal portrait engraving of Maccann, inscribed "Yours ever, J H Maccann". There is a one-page extract from Maccann's tutor, a sample program of a recital by Maccann with an advertisement of his offering lessons, a list of phonograph records for sale recorded by Maccann, and a catalogue of some of Maccann's published music compositions. There is an illustration of a trade mark (no. 164,303) registered by Maccann on 21 April 1892.

Physically, the booklet measures about 5 inches (125mm) by 7 1/2 inches (190mm). It consists of four pieces of paper folded once and printed on both sides (16 pages), plus one inserted sheet with an engraving of Professor Maccann (one-sided). It is saddle-stitched with staples through the fold.

The account of Maccann's life is basically correct, but imprecise in details. For example, Maccann says that he started performing in London in 1882, but newspapers record his performances there in 1881. Maccann dates his first tour of North America to 1889-90, but mentions in the New York Times and the Brooklyn Eagle establish that tour as taking place in 1890-91. The number for Maccann's trade mark is published here as "104,303" but the original documents he deposited with his application for registration are clearly marked "164,303". So the account here should be treated with some caution; much more detailed documentation of Professor Maccann's life, family, travels, and career will be published in the foreseeable future.

From the collection of the National Archives of Australia: Patent Library, Museum, and Art Gallery of South Australia; AP476/4, Applications etc. for registration of copyright of literary, dramatic and musical productions, pictures, etc., 1 January 1878–31 December 1906; B630/1995274, J H Maccann book How to play the Concertina, 1902. [Australian copyright expired 50 years after the end of the year of John Hill Maccann's death.]

This document is unreleased;
Please do not cite or quote.
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Professor John Hill Maccann
discloses how to play
any kind of concertina
in only eighteen pages.

Links to related documents

maccann-concertinists-guide The Concertinist's Guide
by John Hill Maccann
The Most Simple Modern Methods; How to Play Correctly, With or Without a Tutor 8vo. London: Howard & Co., 1888. Images from a microfilm of a copy at the Bodleian Library, replacing a British Library copy destroyed in World War II. (Former British Library shelfmark D-7808.c.14.(14.), replaced by British Library microfilm Mic.A. 10532(4), Bodleian Shelfmark 17426 e 3(2).) Also a full transcription which is searchable in the Adobe PDF reader. 50 pages.
Posted 15 November 2001
» read full document in pdf
maccann-new-method-tutor New Method of Instructions for the New Chromatic Duet English Concertina ... &c.
by John Hill Maccann
Maccann’s own tutor, first published 1885 by Lachenal. Cover reads in part: "New Method of Instructions for the New Chromatic Duet English Concertina, with separate diagrams of keyboards and full instructions of proper fingering, so arranged that without a knowledge of music the instrument can be easily mastered ... Suitable for the 39, 47, or 56 Keyed Instrument. By J. H. Maccann, (Professor of the Duet English Concertina)." First edition, London: Lachenal & Co., 1885. 43 pages. Trim size 10 inches by 13 inches. Updated 01 July 2003: Fourth edition (date unknown), the cover of which reads in part "Suitable for the 39, 46 or 55 Keyed Instrument." 4th Edition. 43 pages. This copy was provided by Bradley Strauchen, Deputy Keeper of Musical Instruments at the Horniman Museum.
Posted 15 February 2003; last updated 01 July 2003
» (1st ed.) read full document in pdf
» (4th ed.) read full document in pdf
maccann-in-america Prof. Maccann’s North American Tour (1890–1891)
by Robert Gaskins
Newspaper theatrical notices from the Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle describe John Hill Maccann’s appearances at Hyde and Behman’s Variety Theater, Brooklyn, in November 1890 and February 1891. Updated 22 December 2003: added a notice from the New York Times for 27 January 1891, during the same North American tour.
Posted 01 June 2003
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maccann-patent-1884 Improvements in Concertinas (1884)
by John Hill Maccann
British Patent No. 4752 of 1884, Provisional Specification (12 March 1884) and Complete Specification (18 November 1884) with two figures. 4 pages. The one and only patent dealing with the Maccann Duet concertina. Maccann's invention creates a fully chromatic Duet (capable of playing in all key signatures) based on the older diatonic Wheatstone “duett” system.
Posted 15 November 2001
» read full document in pdf
maccann-homepage John Hill Maccann
Concertina Library directory of all information on this website about John Hill Maccann.
Posted 01 January 2005
» go to directory
maccann-duet-homepage Maccann Duet Concertinas
Concertina Library directory of all information on this website about Maccann Duet Concertinas.
Posted 01 January 2005
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callaghan-reuben-shaw-video           Garland Films Presents: “Reuben Shaw—Duet Concertina Player”
by Barry Callaghan
On 7 February 1987, Barry Callaghan of Garland Films with fieldworker Graham Coyne filmed a lengthy interview and demonstration, in which Reuben Shaw talks about his life and music. He discusses early performers, his difficulties in finding music to study, and plays the Maccann Duet concertina from some of his collection of Henry Stanley manuscript arrangements. This film has been available from Garland Films on PAL VHS tapes for some time, but now the entire film is available on this website and is available on DVD from Garland Films. STATUS: Article is online now with still pictures, but video clips are not yet available for streaming (in production now).
Posted Coming soon
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