Concertina Photography & Cartoon Gallery
Over the years I have collected quite a lot of fascinating images related to the concertina. Many came from snapshots taken from digitized newspapers and magazines. I’ve been playing for many years and, thankfully, now have a relaxed relationship with the instrument and that’s the most important thing about music. Go with the flow.
That’s me against the green wall and I am playing my favourite English concertina, a Lachenal Edeophone manufactured around 1905. It has an easy action, beautiful fretwork and nickel buttons. These are expensive beasts. I bought this on Ebay several years ago, probably ten, and it cost US $4000 plus another $850 to bring it up to scratch. A mate of mine bought a brand new Wakker English, top-of-the-range, in 2014 and paid around $10,000. This figure might surprise some but it is on level with many other musical instruments. Maybe folks think concertinas are more like toys – how wrong they are. He still says it was a good purchase and expects it to appreciate over time. Such an instrument is a good investment for a serious player. There are a couple of concertina makers in Australia, Chris Ghent makes beautiful anglo concertinas and Richard Evans makes an anglo under his Kooka Concertina brand. Both are expensive because they are hand-crafted in every respect. I have other concertinas – a beautiful Lachenal rosewood and nickel from the 1890s, a baritone Wheatstone with deep and dark sounds ideal for accompanying some songs. It is unbelievably heavy and I can’t believe anyone could carry this around and play. I have a Wheatstone tenor but it has a tone that doesn’t please me so it doesn’t get played too often. Lastly, I have a Crane Duet, a system I have not mastered because playing a concertina is a mind and body game – your fingers need to be very familiar with patterns. At this stage I will stick to my 48 key English. I have often thought I should sell all my instruments and invest in a newly made one, probably Wakker, but, even then, there’s a waiting list. In the meantime there is something nice about the look, smell, feel and sound of the old instruments. Squeeze on. I hope you enjoy this gallery of cartoons and photographs.
Little Boy Blue
There were many coloured postcards and images similar to this ‘blue boy with concertina’. Dressing boys (and sometimes girls) as ‘little sailor boys’ was popular throughout the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
Larrikins were late 19th and early 20th century street gangs. Their girls were called ‘donnish’ and, apparently, the larrikins and donnish liked nothing better than dancing to the music of the concertina. Most dances were couples dances like the polka or waltz.
Kalgoorlie Western Argus.
The Concertina at war. Being portable and light, the concertina, both Anglo-German and English, found itself on the front lines of WW1 and WW2. It had already been to war in the Boer War and Boxer Rebellion . Its music entertained the troops on endless nights
Four images of the concertina at war. Above right ‘in the trenches’, below, a cartoon using the bellows of the concertina (Brisbane Courier Mail. 1945). Below, a soldier and his instrument. Top left. Major Blake, a Salvation Army chaplain in WW2. Adelaide News. 1942
Below. Bluey and Curley were a cartoonist’s impression of the typical Aussie soldier. They were much-loved so it’s good to know they had a concertina with them in the trenches!
In the bush of Australia. The portable concertina was ideal for the itinerant bushman. The three following drawings each take a different slice of history. The first, top left, shows a concertina player ‘agitator’ with a chained worker ‘labour’ as they dance to free the working class during the 1890s shearing strike. Top right shows a dark night scene where a player squeezes as another reads in a dimly lit tent. The third, lower left, comments on Australia’s first one hundred years with the trooper playing the fife whilst the convict dances, and, later a squeezebox accompanies the dancing bushman. Caption: The same old tune, and a bad one at that.
This lone concertina player, city slicker perhaps? strikes a nice stand.