Pete Loud's Concertinas
George Case & Lachenal

Hi Guys,

I recently discovered, (Aug. '03), that my concertina was made by, George Case, of Boosey & xxxx, c. 1860, and I am delighted :-)

When I bought this in 1988, for £75, it didn't have any maker's name plate on it and it had me baffled for years. Then I was was able to solve this identification problem with the help of photographs that I found on Paul Hardy's George Case Concertina website. The giveaway was the pattern of the tracery on the end plate, it is very similar to mine. - Thanks Paul :-) So I decided that I must also show some photographs of mine to help anyone else who has a concertina identification problem.

I haven't quite worked out the full origin. I know it's number is 2535, c. 1860, it should just be a matter of time before I find out which Boosey company it was and the exact year.

I played it for a few months in '88/'89 then took it to Indonesia where the humidity effected it and made it unplayable. The leather went green with mould, the wood warped, the screws stripped their thread, and the veneer flaked off etc. etc. So it lay untouched until April 2003 when I restored it. The left end was tricky. It was made up of an ebony veneer on two layers of ebony. These three layers were separating badly. I had to replace one of those structural ebony layers with aluminium. It was like doing a three dimensional jig-saw puzzle.

Pictures of a George Case Concertina

Right Side Right End
The makers label is reproduction and the adjacent mother-of-pearl inlay has been replaced with plain wood. I've used some ugly oversize washers on the screws to stop the wood being chewed up.
Mother of Pearl Inlay Left End
This is the rebuilt left end. Some pieces of veneer and inlay are missing. The bushes around the buttons have been renewed. The original bolts have been replaced with 3mm Allen headed bolts, a much better solution.
Mother of Pearl Inlay Mother of Pearl Inlay
On the left end some pieces of the inlay are missing. On the right end, above, a complete section is missing and has been replace with plain veneer.
Pivots Pivots
I suspect that the rivetted design is significant for identification, but I don't know enough about it to make definitive statements.
Reed Plate Reed Plate
It has steel reeds. Most Case concertinas I've seen from this era seem to have brass reeds.
Internal Inside Bellows and Back of Reed Plate

I hope you find these photographs as useful as I found Paul Hardy's. I will almost certainly continue to restore the concertina even though it is acceptably playable, and hope to add some more and better pictures in due course.



Pictures of my Lachenal English Concertinas

Lachenal 1

Lachenal 2

In 2004 I bought a couple of concertinas, this time on eBay. It was a bit of a gamble. They both looked a little tatty, one turned out to be in surprisingly good basic condition, the other needed several things doing to it. They are both Lachenals, here are a few photographs for general interest.

I bought them out of boredom & curiosity with the intention of restoring them, thinking that at some point I might be able to sell them for more than I paid. Repairing concertinas is time consuming and I wouldn't recommend it unless you enjoy pottering around on such fiddly tasks to make about a penny an hour :-(

In In March '05 I bought another, this time a fully restored Lachenal from around 1922. It cost a bomb by my standards but looks OK, it will be good to have a more modern concertina in good condition. Although I'm sure that my battered George Case concertina will remain my favourite.

In May '05 I was tempted by what was described as a 1929 Wheatstone. It turned out to be a Lachenal, c. 1902, but I bought it all the same. I think I'm beginning to get like those old ladies who fill their house with dozens of stray cats & dogs ;-)

Lachenal 2

Lachenal 40067

Basic Model Lachenal, No. 49958, c. 1917
This is a basic model 48 key Lachenal English concertina. The simple tracery in the end clearly shows that this is the basic model. It is numbered internally and on the left end with 49958, which dates it around 1917.

This concertina is in particularly good condition, but it needs some new new pads & valves and has a leak. It has very good condition bellows, but only 4-fold. Inside it is immaculately clean, although I had to fit a new spring. I have just made some new thumb-straps for it.
For all of it's good condition I find it a bit sluggish when I play it, compared to my George Case concertina.

Lachenal 1 Left Side
The simpler tracery clearly shows it is the basic model Lachenal. It has bone buttons. On the right end the Lachenal paper label has been damaged and only a scrap remains. I don't know what sort of wood the ends are made from but it appears to be stained. The wooden end has not been chewed up by the screws.
Button Plate Button Plate
Everything is in good very clean condition but I had to replace one spring.
Reed Plate Reed Plate
A typical reed plate, they don't come more pristine than this, those reeds glint in the sunlight. It's beautifully clean which shows lack of use and no leaks between chambers.
Back of Reed Plate Back of Reed Plate
The back of the reed plate has the standard Lachenal paper disk printed with the notes.
Bellows Bellows
The bellows are in very good condition. Those green thumb straps have been replaced.

This conc. has the potential to be a prime example of this model, I need to replace a pad or two and perhaps a few flap valves. This is a bugger, all of this work will make it a better concertina but that doesn't mean that I'll get more for it if I put it on eBay, such are the ups & downs of eBay ;-) So what, I don't need the pennies, I'll put it in a cabinet for someone in the family to sell in another hundred years.

Better Model Lachenal, No. 21644, c. 1882
This concertina doesn't actually have any makers identification but I'm fairly sure it was made by Lachenal and possibly sold under another name. It looks the same as the standard model 48 key Lachenal English concertina. It is numbered internally with 21644, which dates it around 1882 using one dating system.

This concertina is not in such good condition as the above concertina but it definitely looks and feels better quality than the previous Lachenal. The ends clearly have more complex tracery, it is a much better wood and the 5-fold bellows are made of green leather. Several corners of the bellows have been repaired and I have had to replace several springs, bushes and make a new button and thumb straps for it. It could do with new pads & valves too :-(

Lachenal 2 Left Side
The extra complexity of the tracery clearly shows it is the better model Lachenal. The ends are made of what I assume to be rosewood. It has bone buttons, with bushes around the buttons. On the right end the maker's label has disappeared. Many corners on the bellows have been patched, when I get some free time I'll do the job properly.
Lachenal 2 Button Plate, left side
This shows no. 21644. The springs on this side were terrible, still are :-( I replaced the worst. Although the exiting springs look bad, they are all working OK.
Lachenal 2 Reed Plate, left side
The discolouration of the dividers between segments is from dust due to there being a slight leak between compartments. This was due to a couple of the supports beneath being missing. Once the plate was levelled with a couple of new supports the leaks stopped.
Lachenal 2 Inside Plate, left side
This side of the read plate has the typical sticker with the notes marked. Comparing with the Lachenal above you can see the Lachenal name has been cut out. This leads me to suspect it was made by Lachenal but sold under a different name. Some of those leather flap valves look a bit tired :-(

Lachenal, No. 58689, c. 1922, Better still :-)
This is the one I recently bought on eBay from Chris Algar. It's numbered 58689, c.1922. It appears to have been completely restored with all new springs, valves and pads. The bellows have been fully restored too. It looks great. Full marks to Chris Algar, I think it is better than he described it on eBay :-)

Lachenal 2 Right Side
Those buttons look great, all in perfect condition. It has new thumb straps, they look good, but are a bit stiff and hard on the thumbs.
Lachenal 2 Left Side
Six-fold bellows which have been completely restored.
Lachenal 2 Left Side, metal cover off
The first problem to sort out was the left metal end bulging outwards which meant that the buttons didn't fully protrude. It was an easy one to fix. I just removed some of the packing on the end of those three support posts then it was as it should be. After sorting this out I found the left reed plate wasn't quite level and there was a very slight air leak causing a couple of notes to sound simultaneously. This was caused by a missing support post for the reeed plate. A new post was fitted and the problem solved.

Although this is fully restored that doesn't mean it's perfect, that all depends on what you want out of your instrument. This Lachenal is in good condition, and is very responsive. I touch a button and the sound is there, no delay like the cheaper concertinas. I don't doubt it is perfectly in tune, I've yet to check that out. It is good, and a delight to play, it is loud when playing it sat on my sofa. If I was playing in a session, or in a band the strength of the sound would be an advantage. I am delighted to say, that for playing, sat on my sofa, I prefer my old George Case concertina which has a softer sound. I'm delighted, two winners, both satisfying instruments. Now I have to learn to play the damned things :-(

Another Lachenal, 40067, c. 1902 :-)

This is the one I've just bought on eBay, (May '05). Initially it was described as a 1929 Wheatstone. It turned out to be a Lachenal numbered 40067, c.1902. It has slightly raised metal ends and an air release lever for the thumb on each side. It was has a very light touch and plays very fast. It is in reasonable condition but it's like a car that is 30,000 miles past a 10,000 mile service. It has a few minor problems needing attention. There are a couple of minor leaks, the bellows have a few worn corners which might start to leak in the near future. A few pads and several valves need replacing. I've already made new thumb straps. In spite of it's faults, I like it :-)

Lachenal 40067 Right Side,

Lachenal 2 Right side, Air Lever.
This lever opens a valve which leaks air from or into the bellows. Inside I think it is called, Lachenal Patented Bowing Valve. A few of those buttons have had new tips soldered on, some are silver, some are not :-(
After trying this for a couple of months this has become my favourite, and I've started taking it out to sessions. Previously I didn't play my concertinas beyond locked, sound-proof doors at home ;-) It still needs servicing but it is playing well and most concertina players who have tried it like it :-)

It is strange how musical instruments have a character. You put so much effort into them You become attached to them. At least that's the way it is with me, I assume other musicians feel the same. My 1922 Lachenal is in much better condition than this or my old George Case concertina, but because the 1922 conc. is so good I have not to spent ages fixing it, coaxing it along, so I have no personal rapport with it. I almost feel unfaithful when I neglect my George Case for this new Lachenal ;-)

Another unknown make
This is another puzzler. There is no maker's label but it has a number 3066 inside. I have seen a concertina with identical fretwork which had Wheatstone roundels inside. This has what appears to be Lachenal lever mechanisms and no roundels. I suspect that in the late 1800s British concertina manufacturers were way ahead of Ford Motor Cars of the early 1900s with mass production. There appeared to be lots of independent contractors making parts for the big names, and the big names assembled whatever they bought from their sub-contractors, hence confusion between manufacturers.

This concertina has already been restored, not by me. It has steel reeds and is tuned to concert pitch.

Unknown Right Side
The tracery is somewhere between the basic and better Lachenal. It has silver plated pinkie-grips. The end is not a flat sheet of cheap wood, but has shoulders around the edge. (Incidentally, a few days ago, around 10/11/2005 I saw a conc. on eBay with odd ends, one was flat, one had shoulders. It was described as Wheatstone. I wondered which parts were Wheatstone and what the other parts were :-(

The bellows are in very good condition. Most of the concertinas which pass through my hands have had many of the corners of the bellows worn through. These bellows had only one very minor leak which was easily repaired internally.
Lachenal 2 Reed Plate
Clearly the reeds are steel tongues on brass plates, and most of the valves have been replaced.
Lachenal 2 Lever mechanism.
The amazing thing about this is the lever mechanism and springs, they appear sparkling new. However the new replacement pads are not so good. Pads are a sandwich with a soft fiberous layer in the middle. These pads have too thick a layer of soft fibre in the middle. It allows a little lateral movement of the inner leather sealing layer, and they need time to bed down.

As concertinas go this is not bad, but after playing a few very goods ones I find this, like most others, a bit sluggish. In many respects it is like my basic Lachenal mentioned earlier. That is in better, exceptional, condition but that has softer brass reeds and original tuning. This has louder steel reeds and is in concert pitch. It all depends on what you want and what you are prepared to pay for ;-(

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