New Essays on Concertina History

Randall C. Merris

Contributions to the Concertina Library by Randall C. Merris.

merris-bibliography Instruction Manuals for the English, Anglo, and Duet Concertina: An Annotated Bibliography
by Randall C. Merris
A comprehensive bibliography with more than 200 citations for concertina tutors that were published from the 1840s to the present. Separate sections deal with English, Anglo, and Duet tutors. The annotations contain considerable historical material on concertina makers, authors and teachers, performers, and publishers in the UK, US, and elsewhere. The web version incorporates citations for tutors that have appeared or were located subsequent to the original publication (about 35 more by 2005) and adds over 100 scanned photographs of tutor covers. A number of the tutors are available scanned in full on this website, and these are indicated in the entries. The original publication was in The Free-Reed Journal 4 (2002): 85-118, and a PDF version of the printed article is also available online.
Posted 01 April 2003; last updated 31 August 2005
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» read Part 1, "English Concertina"
» read part 2, "Anglo Concertina"
» read part 3, "Duet Concertina"
» read original article (without updates) in pdf"
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
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marie-lachenal-announcement Marie Lachenal Announcement (c. 1900)
by Marie Lachenal
Announcement advertising the availability of Marie Lachenal for performances and lessons, with numerous press clippings listed. Discussed in Faye Debenham and Randall C. Merris, "Marie Lachenal: Concertinist".
Posted 15 November 2005
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merris-back-to-future Back to the Future: De Ville’s The Concertina and How to Play It and Other Tutors
by Randall C. Merris
Paul de Ville's tutor (1905) is one of the most widely available sources of basic instruction and tunes for the Anglo concertina. It has links to both earlier and later periods; most of its tunes and other material were taken from earlier publications, and most of its contents reappeared seventy years later in a tutor which is still available for purchase.
Posted 15 February 2003
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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
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merris-minasi-german-tutor-1846 Earliest Known English-Language German Concertina Tutor: Minasi’s “Instruction Book” 1846
by Randall C. Merris and Dan Worrall
Carlo Minasi published the earliest known English-language tutor for the German ("Anglo-German") concertina by 1846 in London. This publication goes well beyond the basics; in it are instructions not only for the simple “along the row” melody line style, but also extensive discussions of octave playing, cross row fingering, and chord accompaniment. Numerous fully arranged musical selections are included, almost all in the “English” or “harmonic” style, where chords are played on the left and melody on the right, more or less as a duet concertina is played.
Posted 15 August 2005
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calculator Calculate Modern Values of Historic Concertina Prices
by Randall C. Merris and Robert Gaskins
“How much would that be in new money?” An interactive calculator to convert sterling values from any year 1830–1999 to the equivalent value in the year 2000. The calculation preserves the relation between the chosen value and “average earnings” for the two dates; this method makes it appropriate for converting wages and capital sums, and also for expensive discretionary products such as concertinas. The calculator deals with both “old money” (prior to 1971) and the later decimalized currency. It is especially useful for understanding historical documents such as old advertisements and pricelists, and the sales prices and wages recorded in the Wheatstone Concertina Ledgers from the Horniman Museum.
Posted 01 January 2005
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merris-cases Concertina Cases: New is Often Better
by Randall C. Merris
Praise abounds for vintage concertinas—e.g., Wheatstones, Jeffries, Crabbs, and the best-grade Lachenals and Jones—but does not extend to their cases. At best, the vintage case may be impractical. At worst, it may have negative value, because improper use may damage the concertina inside.
Posted 15 February 2003
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Sir John Everett Millais, The Blind Girl, 1854-1856
John Everett Millais
“The Blind Girl”