NC:3: Images featuring the Concertina - Summary
The Image Collections: There is also a vast archive of concertina-related images accessible here, which documents the many early original photographs of concertina bands, serious performers and music hall artistes, and of the concertina in the hands of soldiers, sailors, traditional musicians and the many ‘amateur’ enthusiasts who adopted the instrument in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The worldwide use of this iconic little instrument in advertising, humorous postcards and cartoons, and as a universally-used instrument with which to ‘pose’ in early photographic studies and on cartes de visite is represented by over 800 such images. The image archive also documents the later concertina revival from the late 1960s onwards, with images, recordings and archive items from the early years of the International Concertina Association, of the many older players that were recorded and interviewed by Neil Wayne, and from the Concertina Conventions that he organised during the 1960s and 1970s.
NC:3:1: Photographs - Summary
The many hundreds of photographic images all feature the use (and often the abuse!) of the concertina as an iconic instrument in the musical and social life of people for almost two hundred years. Sections feature its use as an item to "pose" with; as a serious solo and band instrument; as a vital instrument in the Salvation Army, and as an instrument whose revival of popularity spread throughout the 1960s folk revival (when it appeared on T-shirts and shoulder bags!) and beyond. Items are classified into Daguerreotype, Tintype, Carte de Visite, Larger Plate Images and Stereo-Graph sections.
NC:3:1:1: Posed (Concertina as 'prop') - Summary
The compact and visually-appealing shape and look of the concertina, and its increasing availability to the wider population as it fell from favour as the upper-classes' instrument of choice and fell in price, led to its widespread use at a 'prop' in photographic studios. As the use of such studios for family images, "cartes-de-visite" and portraits became widespread, the concertina was added to the roster of "props" available to the poser in most studios, joining the Aspidistra, Stereoscope, violin, books and other props from which the proud subject could choose to hold!
3:1:2: Performers/Musicians - Summary
By the early 1850s, the use of the concertina was spreading from the "amateur" upper & middle class Victorian enthusiasts to professional performers who gave concerts, built a roster of paying students, and to performers on other instruments (Regondi's inclusion, of the concertina to his guitar recitals is an example) who incorporated the use of the concertina in their performances. Commensurate with this was these musicians' use of formal photographic portraits as promotional material for their acts and services. When concertina-using acts spread to the music halls and the concert halls, many acts included a range of concertinas in their images, and treated the instrument more and more as a "comic" item.
3:1:3: Bands with Concertinas - Summary
By the late 1880s, the social migration of the concertina in Britain had spread to the mill-working communities of the north of England, and as more concertina makers and instrument dealers sprung up, an wide range of cheap instruments were available to these communities. There were already a large number of brass bands in the area, based in dedicated social clubs or in the mills wherein the players worked, and soon a parallel body of concertina bands arose, playing the same formal repertoire of music, but using concertinas. The early instrumentation of such bands was based on the widely-available Anglo and treble English system concertinas, but bands soon requested a wider range of concertinas that would mimic the range and compass of brass band instruments: the London manufacturers Lachenal and Wheatstone were only too glad to oblige, and thus appeared Tenor, Baritone, bass and contrabass concertinas, which in compass and even in tone mimicked the Cornet, tenor horn, Euphonium and other Brass Band instruments. Most of the images in this section (and those in "Postcards of Bands" Section NC.184.108.40.206 are of the more formal, uniformed northern concertina bands, often sponsored by Lachenal or Wheatstone, with several examples of more relaxed and casual groups of 'the lads' posing with mainly Anglo concertinas. Section NC.220.127.116.11 contains the archives of Alfred and Herbert Worsley of Ashton-u-Lyne Concertina Band, and of Edward Douglas (blind Concertina Player of Gateshead) and his teacher J Stead. Section Section NC.18.104.22.168 contains a fine group of five images of the "Black-Face" Manningham Concertina Band.
3:1:4: Salvation Army Concertina Images and Articles - Summary
The Salvation Army has always had the canny ability to adopt musical styles of the days when conducting its "warfare" in the streets, reaching out with music, song and preaching to the poor and lost with its Christian message. Like the workers in the mill-towns of Britain, they too had many Brass Bands in cities and towns all over the UK, but in late Victorian times, cognisant of the of the concertina's popularity with the working classes (and its relative cheapness when compared to brass instruments), began to set up Concertina Bands to play and march the streets. This Section includes a range of CdVs, postcards and photographs of both single players and SA Concertina Bands.
NC:3:1:5: Concertina Revival: 1945 to present - Section NC.22.214.171.124
The First World war's cruel toll of the lives of young men
robbed Britain of many potential concertina players, and together with the
rising process of the instrument, began a steady decline in the popularity of
the concertina. The importing and aggressive marketing of cheap accordions -
and even cheaper German made Anglo concertinas - competed with the quality
Wheatstone & Lachenal instruments, and concertina bands declined. In the
pre-WW2 years, many remaining makers closed, many older players passed away,
and it was not until the
combined influence of the launch of the
International Concertina Association in May 1953 mid 1952 by members including
Alf Edwards, Herbert Greene,
Peter Honri and many others: The museum has
the an original photograph of
this a May 1953 (?)
gathering. It was during the start of the folk revival in the late 1950s that
the instrument started to appear in British social music in greater numbers. In
the late 1960s, Neil Wayne's collecting and visits to older ICA members led him
to start "The Concertina Newsletter", which became, after 10 issues "Free Reed
Magazine"; by its 24th Issue it had 3,500 subscribers and thousands more
readers around the world. This section brings together images, press reports,
magazines and all manner of items generated during the Concertina Revival,
including the Reuben Shaw archive and the papers of the ICA.
NC:3: Images featuring the Concertina - Summary [Index]
3:2: Postcards - Summary
As in the photographic Images section (NC.3.1), some of the hundreds of concertina-related postcards in this Section feature 'performers' with the concertina who are clearly posing with the instrument to give their photograph a little extra charm! However, there are extensive ranges of cards featuring genuine soloists & duos, and of many bands, both northern English concertina bands, and of informal groups playing one or more concertinas. As well as photographic cards, much of this section is of cartoon-style and humorous post cards, exploiting the "cute" aspects of holding the instrument, or using its iconic image as part of humorous messages within: Birthday, New Year, Valentine, Seaside Holiday and Christmas cards!
3:3: Paintings - Summary
Whereas most postcards, press engravings and other printed images of the concertina tend to present the instrument in a more comic or light-hearted setting, the few oil paintings in the Collection are serious representations of the concertina being used as a natural element and accessory of everyday life in the scenes represented.
3:4: Advertising with Concertinas as Icon - Summary
The ongoing use of the concertina as an image, as a mere shape, or even just as a word in advertising throughout the 20th century is documented in this section, with a wealth of mainly USA-oriented adverts for beer, food, insect screens, flooring tiles, whisky, gin - and the famed >Maidenform Concertina Bra and Girdle!
3:5: Scrapbook Scraps - Summary
The scrapbook, and the printed sets of colourfully printed and embossed scraps produced to fill them, were a popular Victorian pastime, and many subjects were covered using the image of the concertina or related subjects. A popular series was the "HS-AG" collection of scraps about the life and inventions of Sir Charles Wheatstone, of which there are several sets in this section. A less-serious selection of scraps are those featuring comic representations of the concertina, in the hands of negro minstrels, Salvationists, clowns, minstrels and dainty children.
3:6: Hallowe'en Items - Summary
The American tradition of hanging scraps and decorations at Hallowe'en is represented by the scraps produced by the H E Luhrs Company, USA, a printer of Hallowe'en fancy items. Luhrs was one of the Trade Marks of the Beistle Company.
3:7: Cigarette Cards - Summary
Most cigarette companies of the late 19th and early 20th century included such cards in their cancer-stick packs: when the series was based on popular artistes, scientists, musical instruments etc, it was very common for the image of a concertina, or Mr Wheatstone, or of a music hall concertinist (Dutch Daly, Percy Honri are here) to be included, and several such cards are within this section.
3:8: Cartoons - Summary
A series of 19th century mainly political cartoons in which the concertina is mainly used to establish the 'class' of the character holding it
3:9: Comic Books based on Concertina - Summary
Here are a selection of mainly children's comic books in which the main character is based, either by shape or name, on the iconic image and shape of concertina-like items. Some are even in octagonal shape, and none appear to have actual images or correct representations of actual instruments, however. Two rather more adult books are included, one using the name 'Concertina' for a S/M Dominatrix, the other, George Melly's tale of life in the navy ("Rum, Bum and Concertina").
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Created August 2009 by Neil Wayne
Modified February 2012 by Wes Williams
This page created Monday 20 February 2012.