Item Type: Concertina
Full Description: A prototype 24-key Open Pallet Wheatstone "English" concertina, having exposed pearl pallets, ebony levers within a complex wooden action system. The origin of this very early open pallet instrument was as a continuance of physicist and inventor Charles Wheatstone's research on controlling musical reeds via compact and logical arrangements of buttons or "keys". It is in part an acoustical experiment and demonstration apparatus, and in part a 'new' musical instrument prototype, whose later developments were destined for eventual sale via the family business, and this prototype was created during his days at the family's musical instrument and publishing shop at 20 Conduit Street, London. As with many of the Collection's items originating from the King's College attic storerooms which housed the remnants of the Wheatstone Laboratory collection, this item is in fragile condition.
Concertina Summary: A prototype 24-key Open-pallet Wheatstone "English" concertina, with provenance from the Wheatstone Museum, King's College, London.
Owner or Collection: Concertina Museum, Belper
Maker: C Wheatstone
Region of Manufacture: London
Main Maker's Label Wording: A semi-circular, solid silver applied plate, screwed to the central RH rosewood circular action cover, and engraved "By his Majesty's Letters Patent, C Wheatstone, Inventor, 20 Conduit St. Regent St. London".
Principal Serial Number: No serial number on this earliest prototype.
Source Catalogue No: The Concertina Museum Collection Ref:C-001.
Wheatstone & Co. were founded in 1824, and survived until 1974. In 1975 the company was refounded by Steve Dickinson.
C. Wheatstone & Co was established in London, England by Charles Wheatstone (uncle to Sir Charles and William Dolman Wheatstone) at the beginning of the 19th Century. They moved to 20 Conduit Street, London, England in 1824. After the death of William in 1862, the firm was taken over by Edward Chidley, a distant relation. Edward Chidley died in 1899, and the firm was then controlled by his sons Edward and Percy. In 1905 the firm moved to 15 West Street.
After the death of the younger Edward Chidley in 1943, part of the firm was sold to Besson & Co., who were taken over by Boosey & Hawkes in 1948. In 1958 they moved to Duncan Terrace, Islington, North London. In 1961 the Duncan Terrace property was sold, and the remains of Wheatstone & Co. were moved to the Boosey & Hawkes factory in Edgware, Middlesex. The company ceased trading on the death of its last employee in 1974.
The remains of the company were purchased by Steve Dickinson in 1975.
Please email comments or reports of errors to
Created August 2009 by Neil Wayne
Last Modified 07 February 2012 by Neil Wayne, Chris Flint, Wes Williams
This page created Tuesday 14 February 2012.