Posted 15 September 2003

Professor Maccann: America’s
Champion Concertinist

Robert Gaskins

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.

brooklyn eagle 16 nov 1890 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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Medal awarded by Prof. Maccann to Percy Honri, Liverpool, 1891
Medal awarded by Prof. Maccann
to Percy Honri, Liverpool, 1891


Links to related documents

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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