I wrote this update in early 2005. I've completely failed to produce any further update since, but concertina
history has moved on quickly, with other contributors (like Randy Merris, Stephen Chambers, Dan Worral, Chris Flint,
Geoff Crabb and many more) producing in-depth articles on the subject. This update remains here for historical reasons,
but is also a reminder on how little we knew (and how little was available) only a short time ago.
Update Version 2; April 2005.
©2001,2005; Wes Williams.
This page is an updated section of the original
concertina.net. Updating the article has proved difficult because of the rate
at which new information has been appearing. Although I hope to release a full
update sometime in 2005, much new information has already appeared in the
History Forum at concertina.net, where you will be able to find many people
willing to help with further questions.
Neil Wayne's account of the early concertina years shows that many of the early
makers were originally associated with Wheatstone. A lot of the industry was
supplied by small companies, or even individuals, who specialised in making a
certain part of the concertina. It was therefore possible for someone to set up
as a manufacturer if they had enough knowledge of the suppliers. With the
limited information available, it is impossible to produce any real dating
information for these smaller manufacturers, other than to note their approximate
periods of operation. The following descriptions give what information I have,
using the Horniman collection as a basis, along with some instruments which have
recently been offered for sale. Of all the UK makers listed in the Horniman
collection, I have not been able to obtain any further information on only
Arthur J. Woodley.
A recently introduced resource on the Internet provides opportunities for
research into dealers and traders.
The Historical Directories
website contains a large number of searchable directories for locations
throughout the UK.
Jabez Austin set up on his own account about 1850. He appears as a concertina
maker in a directory listing for 1856 as Austin, Jabez, 3 Crombie's Row,
Commercial road east. He died in 1857, and his business was taken over by
his pupil, George Jones (see section).
Joseph Scates - 40 Frith
A former Wheatstone Tuner, Scates set up sometime around 1844. The Frith St.
address was the house of his father Joseph, who in 1839 ran a 'Stationer and
Porteusian Bible Warehouse', and where Scates Jnr is listed as a musician . He
appears to have moved to 32 New Bond St. from 1847-49. He quickly sold out to
George Case and by 1851 had set up in Dublin as:
- Joseph Scates, Professor of the Concertina,
- 28 Westmoreland St Dublin
- 11, Wellington Rd Ballsbridge
After 1851, Scates traded from various addresses, the final directory entry
appearing in 1866:
- 1852:Rathmines Rd
- 1856: 26 College Green
- 1858: 27 College Green & 8 Church Lane
- 1862: 27, College Green & 8 Church Lane, Dublin; & 1,Longford
- 1864 to 1866: 15 Westmoreland St
Many, if not all, of his Dublin labelled instruments were supplied by Lachenal
or Jones. The highest serial number in the Horniman is 547. A Scates instrument
No. 467, was sold by Wheatstones in July 1852.
George Case - 32 New Bond
'Professor' George Tinckler Case seems to have been much more of a musician and
tutor, although Neil Wayne says that he originally worked for Wheatstone. He
produced many tutors and arrangements. He first appears in listings in 1850 at
New Bond St as a Seraphine Maker, but from 1851 this is changed to Concertina
Manufacturer. George Jones says he took over from Scates, and around 1856 sold
out to Boosey. The earliest 'Case/Boosey' labelled instrument in the Horniman is
No.1571, and the nearest 'Case' to that No 960. However Case was buying from
Wheatstones in 1851 and 1852,(as was Boosey) so it is possible that some Case
labelled instruments may carry Wheatstone serial numbers.
Boosey & Co.
Boosey took over Case around 1856, and their instruments are
classified in the Horniman as "George Case of Boosey and ..."
where the name following 'and' has variations.Here are some
instruments and their labels.
- 1571,3048 Boosey and Sons
- 2788 Boosey and Sons, Holles Street,London.
- 3169,3248 Boosey and Chin(g)
- 3496 Boosey and Co, Regent Street,London.
There are no Case/Boosey instruments numbered over 4000 in the
Horniman. Since Boosey & Sons became Boosey & Co about
1864, it may be possible to assign numbers in the 3100 region to
around this date. Boosey and Co moved to Regent St about 1874, so
the latter instrument may be of that date.
Two directory entries for Dowsett is the only evidence so far found.
In 1852 he is listed as a concertina maker, and in 1856 as Musical Instrument
Manufacturer, at 18, New Gloucester St., Hoxton
William Dove - 20 Poland
Street, Oxford Street.
Dove, another Wheatstone worker, started manufacturing around 1850. He did not
remain in business for long according to Jones, and the company was taken over
by Keith, Prowse & Co.. Directory listings for Dove disappear
after 1852. The two Horniman Dove instruments are Nos.217 and 234, and the lowest
Prowse No 1156 (Keith, Prowse and Vicker).
Keith,Prowse & Co.
As noted above the lowest 'Prowse' in the Horniman is No 1156, and the highest
No.4842. It is interesting to note that 'Mr. W Prowse',who ran the company from
1846 to 1865, purchased 16 concertinas from Wheatstone during 1851 (but none in
1852). The Keith, Prowse and Vicker instrument above probably dates to before
1865, and the Keith, Prowse and Co instruments (Nos. 1360 and 4842) after that.
By 1888 they were selling rebadged Lachenals from 48 Cheapside.
A 'Thomas Prowse' English has recently been offered for sale (Feb. 2001) by
Hobgoblin, but this is not connected. He operated from 13 Hanway St from
1835-60 and from 15 Hanway St. from 1860-68, and is listed as buying various
instruments in early Wheatstone records.
According to information from the Crabb family and other sources, John Nickolds
(b.1787 in Birmingham) was the toolmaker for Wheatstone, and was replaced by
Lachenal in 1848, with his own company at 5, Woodbridge St,
Clerkenwell. He had two sons, Frederick Charles and Thomas, also involved with
Wheatstone. John Crabb joined with Nickolds to form 'Nickolds,
Crabb & Co.'. John Crabb left the company about 1856 to work for Lachenal,
before forming his own company in 1860.
The earliest listing discovered for any of the Nickolds family as a
concertina maker appears in 1856; in 1851 John is listed as a 'machinist'.
The business became Nickolds Bros, listed as operating from Woodbridge St.
between 1856 and 1859. However in 1856 the brothers are also listed individually as:
'Fredk. Chas. Nickolds, Goulden Terrace' and 'Thos.
Nickolds, 7 Lower Brunswick Terrace, Barnsbury Road,
F.C. Nickolds' company closed about 1888. Their sequence was:
- 5 Woodbridge St [1856 - 64]
- 143 Holloway Road [by 1866]
- 44 Norland Rd, Notting Hill[by 1876]
- F. C. Nickolds & Son,203 New North Road,[by 1880]
- 156 Kingsland Road [by 1888]
- 159 Kingsland Road
Thomas Nickolds does not appear in any further listings, but is recorded
in the 1881 census as a concertina maker, widowed and lodging in Newington.
The Horniman has a few instruments,those up to No.8310 are 'Nickolds Brothers',
whereas No.8335 is 'F.C.Nickolds'.
In his article on Lachenal noted above, Stephen Chambers notes that one
characteristic of Nickolds instruments is that the screw holes of the plate that
fastens the reed to the shoe are open ended. He also notes a single sided 'hook
Later listings for Nickolds Bros. as musical instrument sellers in the 1920s
in Enfield, Middlesex are a strange echo. They were descendants of the same family.
Rock and Edward
Rock Chidley produced the often featured ivory ended instrument for Wheatstone
in 1848, left Wheatstone sometime around 1850, and according to Jones, set up
near Oxford Street. The address found on instruments,'135 High Holborn, London',
near New Oxford St., was in fact the family address. He was definitely
manufacturing by 1851 and exhibited at the Great Exhibition of that year
ROCK CHIDLEY begs to call the attention of the Nobility and the public
visiting the Great Exhibition to the very great improvements he has discovered
in the manufacture of his CONCERTINAS, amongst which are his newly invented
Glass Studs, working on a double fulcrum action, and a variety of other
improvements, which are very obvious to the admirers of this instrument.
The Wheatstone sales ledgers show a 'Baritone Chidley' being sold on
12th July 1852. However the market for concertinas was competitive, and in 1856
he advertised his prices as being 'further reduced by 25% from last years
The British Library lists two tutors published by Rock Chidley, one ascribed
to Edwin Chidley, presumably a mistake for his brother Edward. One of these
tutors, published in 1858, says that the firm then had two factories,
'Hollingworth Street North, & Wellington Street, St. James's Road, Holloway',
which were also listed in his 1856 advertisement. It seems probable that the
company closed sometime around 1867, when it disappears from listings. It may
not be co-incidence that Wheatstone seem to acquire a capability for their
own mass production under Edward Chidley at the same time.
Although working together initially, Edward seems to have made some
concertinas in his own name, and is independently listed from 1861 to 1870 at
28 Store St, Bedford Sq. By 1870 Edward is listed as an Importer and Maker of
Harmoniums and Concertinas at Wheatstone's address.
The highest Chidley serial number in the Horniman is 5204.
Oakley Street, London SW
Thomas Shakespeare appears in listings from 1884 to 1892 at various numbers
in Oakley Street, Lambeth. A first hand report from ICA member Will Gardham
described watching a Mr Shakespeare, then aged 50 or 60, making concertinas in
1908 at Camberwell Road. This age accords with an 1881 census record for
Winstanley Rd, Battersea of Thomas Shakespeare, concertina maker, aged 35.
There is also a listing in 1921 for J Shakespeare as a maker of
English, Anglo, & duet concertinas at 211 Camberwell rd SE 5, which is
corroborated by a J.J.Vickers price list c.1923 (in Chris Algar's collection)
which advertises new Shakespeare instruments, so given that Thomas would have
been in his mid seventies by then, it seems possible that two Shakespeares,
perhaps father and son, were makers.
The Horniman has a few instruments by this maker, and also a
'Simpson and Weipper' instrument. This latter instrument must
date to about 1870, as Simpson and Wieppert formed a short lived
partnership about 1869-1872. A tutor, 'Easy Method of Learning
the Concertina, by John Simpson, Teacher of the Flageolet' was
published in 1855. His addresses were:
- 1826-30:260 Regent St.
- ca. 1830-69: 266 Regent St.
- 1869-72:266 Regent St. (as Simpson and Weippert)
- 1874-75:14 Argyle St.
- 1876-79:32 Argyle St.
Simpson appears many times in the earliest Wheatstone records. It seems
that he stopped buying from Wheatstone sometime between Spring 1848 and
January 1851, so it may be possible to narrow the date of instruments that
contain Wheatstone or non Wheatstone features.
Alfred B. Sedgewick published a tutor for the English in 1854. The Wheatstone
records show a Sedgwick concertina, No.169, being sold in 1852. Sedgwick was a
member of the Blagrove-Case-Regondi-Sedgwick concertina quartet, founded in
1844. He emigrated to New York about 1851, and further details of his American
concertina exploits (often with his son Charles) in the Brooklyn area, may be found
in the archive for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle at
Cramer & Co.
A Cramer has been recently seen for sale in the Netherlands,
bearing the imprint J. B. Cramer & Co., 201 Regent St. This
company was not formed until 1872, so this instrument must be
from this date or after. It has another label 'Selected by
Richard Blagrove' which ties in well with the fact that Blagrove
(1827?-1895), who was a major figure among classical concertina
performers and arrangers, became very popular, especially after a
concertina recital in 1868 at Windsor Castle at the invitation of
Another instrument by this maker is in the Horniman.
Roylance was more of a dealer than manufacturer. He was however,
an accomplished concertinist and wrote many tutors. Randall
Merris extracted this interesting snippet from one of his
"The English Concertina was invented by Professor Charles
Wheatstone . . . and was introduced to Public notice in June
1838. The first instrument was sold to Capt. Gardner of the 2nd
Life Guards, it was then called the "Symponian" [sic] with
bellows, and not until December 27th of that year, was it named
The very same 'open pallet' concertina is in the possession of forum member
Stephen Chambers, and stamped 'T.Gardnor'.
Roylance's company was located at the following addresses:
- ca. 1865-78:38 Charlotte St.
- 1879-93:184 Tottenham Court Rd.
- 1893-98:220 Tottenham Court Rd
- 1899-1901:113 Hampstead Rd
- 1902-11:122a Drummond St
- 1912-38:88 Seymour St
Roylance is also recommended as a supplier for concertina parts in an early
1890s Victorian D-I-Y magazine, so he was still actively involved in concertinas
at this date.
Parker and Son
A single instrument in the Horniman bears this label. It may
possibly relate John William Parker, a music publisher, who was
located at 445 West Strand ca. 1832-63. The company became Parker
(J.W) & Son in 1851.
Ball Beavon was a dealer who established a wholesale musical instrument business
in the 1880s. In 1888 he is listed at 31 Aldermanbury, EC, an address listed from
1868 to 1884 as the concertina and musical instrument maker Ilkee & Horne,
and in in Maccann's guide in 1888 as Ihlee and Sankey, concertina dealers. By
1902 the firms address was 5 Skinner St., Bishopsgate St. EC, and by 1921 they
had been incorporated into Faudels Ltd of Newgate.
It appears that all types of instruments sold were rebadged with the firms own
label. Ball Beavon instruments appear to be Crabb in origin.
This company eventually became the 'Decca' record empire, from
their success after patenting the first portable gramophone in
It was founded in 1849, when Barnett Samuel moved from Sheffield
to found a musical instrument business in London.The following
dates show that the concertina seen recently with this label
dates from 1878 or later.
- 1849: 31 Houndsditch and 27a Duke Street.
- 1872: Barnett Samuel & Sons
- 1878: 32 Worship Street, London, E.C.
- 1901: Barnett Samuel & Sons Ltd
The four sided instruments made by Henry Harley are some of the most
distinctive in the Horniman collection. They use the same construction
techniques as German made instruments. The first listing for Harley appears in
1874 at 22 Brunswick Place, City Road, N. London and these listings continue at
the same address until 1888. An instrument bearing a Harley label has been
indentified by Dr. Maria Dunkel as being made by the German maker Bassler (of
Grünberg, Saxony). According to Stephen Chambers (2004):
Harley seems to have modified German concertinas to give them a more
"English" appearance. This "Anglicisation" (or should that be "Anglo-icisation"
?) usually involved cutting out the areas of the end that had a pattern of
holes drilled in them, German-style, and replacing them with fresh timber in
which fretwork was cut, English-style. The ends were then sanded down
(which tended to also obscure the numbers of the buttons stamped into them,
German-style) and ebonised (to hide what had been done). The German woodscrews
in the ends were replaced with endbolts, and they were given leather bellows.
He also added some extra notes, with smaller buttons, to them.
John Henry Ebblewhite styled himself 'real Maker and Importer' and
claimed to be able to supply any type of instrument at a low price, including
a 'Best English Concertina, "Double Action", in Rosewood Case for £3 10s"
. Founded about 1840, the firm was based at Aldgate.
There seem to be two E. Myers associated with concertinas. Edward Myers
was a concertina dealer,and in May 1856, having obtained an Interim Order of
Protection from Process, he appeared as an Insolvent Debtor at the Court House,
Portugal Street. At this time he operated from Mount Street, Whitechapel Road.
In the same year, Emanuel Myers is listed at 7A Crown Row,Walworth rd,
and in 1865 we have E. Myers of 1 Black Prince row, Walworth Rd listed as a
musical instrument manufacturer. Entries from 1869 to 1884 give Emanuel Myers at
27 Walworth rd SE, and instruments bearing this label are reported as being made
by George Jones.
As the name of J.J Vickers is found stamped inside many instruments, it is
worth briefly documenting the firm here. Vickers were established in 1887
according to their own labels, and became the largest concertina dealer in the
London area. They were located in Royal Hill, Greenwich, becoming J.J. Vickers
& Son about 1923. They were still operating in the late 1950s, and are
listed in the ICA handbook for 1957.
In a recent discussion at concertina.net, it has been stated that R.Carr was
an outworker for Jeffries, and some of his instruments became available when the
contents of his workshop were sold after his death. It therefore seems that he
was no longer working for Jeffries, so perhaps these instruments may date to the
early 1920s, when the Jeffries company broke up.
A few instruments, of both Lachenal and Jones origin, have been reported
bearing the label of J. Wallis, Euston Road. The firm was established in 1848 at
Providence Street, Walworth, and from 1858 was at 6 Union st. Borough SE,
moving to No 14 in 1865. The firm moved to 133 & 135 Euston Road in 1867,
where they remained until 1928. The firm became J Wallis & Son in 1887.