Soon after returning from his
performing tour to the United States,
(November 1890 to February 1891), John Hill Maccann
was back in London showing tangible evidence of his success.
A paragraph appeared in the “Music Hall Gossip” column
in the 2 May 1891 issue of The Era, a weekly newspaper devoted to news of the music halls
and variety theatres. The paragraph recounts a contest to choose “America’s
Champion Concertinist,” and Maccann’s victory over one “Amducas Vestman”.
Nothing more is known (yet) about either the contest or Vestman. The prize was
substantial: US $300 (worth about US $ 6,000 today) and a medal described in great detail.
This story of Professor Maccann's American medal should not be confused with
another story of a concertina medal and Maccann, at almost the same time. “In April 1891,
the great MacCann presented Percy Honri with an engraved silver medal ‘for his
marvellous playing on the duet concertina.’” (Peter Honri, Working
the Halls, 1973, p. 38; Honri includes a drawing of the medal, reproduced above).
This took place after Maccann's
return from America, and just a couple of weeks before Maccann's own medal would be
publicized in The Era.
The Era (London), Saturday, 2 May, 1891, page 16, column 4
PROFESSOR MACCANN, the celebrated concertinist, has
brought back with him from America a fine medal, which
became his property by a rival musician, Amducas Vestman,
failing to meet the Professor in a concertina contest
for the championship and $300. The medal bears the
inscription “America’s Champion Concertinist,”
surrounding a lyre, a horn, and an open book of music.
The inscription is itself surrounded with rays and
wreaths, and the medal hangs from a clasp bearing the
words “Professor Maccann, 1890–91,” and
surmounted by an American eagle with outspread wings.
Posted 15 September 2003
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