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 and my Edeophone English Concertina

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

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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.

Smith's Weekly. circa 1910

 

Nineteen and early 20th century Australian cartoonists had a way with drawings that required no caption Here a larrikin brandishes his concertina . (Above) from Perth Daily News 1904.

 

Drawing the dance. Australians loved to dance – sets, polkas and hornpipes

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This red-nosed character was the father in a postcard cartoon ‘Saturday Night at the Cottar’s’

 

This image from the Sydney Illsutrated News shows the bushman dancing a solo dance, possibly a hornpipe, to the strains of the concertina.

 

above. A bushman dances a step dance to the accompaniment of what looks like an English (rather than anglo) concertina. Sydney Illustrated News 1889

 

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(Left) A beautiful drawing of a dance accompanied by a concertina.

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

 

He hid the concertina in the horse's nosebag!

He hid the concertina in the horse’s nosebag!

 

 

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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

Courier Mail 12 April 1945Ade Adv 1945108,297PD

Left, Salvation army officer playing concertina and soldier plays musical saw.

 

 

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!

bluey and curley 1942

 

 

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.

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Ill Syd 1885

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Australiasian 1908

 

 

This lone concertina player, city slicker perhaps? strikes a nice stand.

 

 

 

 

Newspaper stories.

Photograph and story about the ‘last concCairns Post 1949ertina tuner’ employed by Wheatstone. Apparently she couldn’t play!

 

(Left) Cairn’s Post 1949

concertina 10Dooley C. Canberra Times 1988

 

Above (man and girl) 1950 The Argus.

 Left: Dooley Chapman, Canberra Times 1988

Dooley was a wonderful traditional player. His collected tunes are in the National Library Collection of Chris Sullivan.

 

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The concertina often appeared in children’s columns in newspapers. These (below) are typical.

concer fishingsailor tina

(These three) Newcastle Herald , NSW. 1949

 

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This cartoon series (below) Adelaide Mail, 1938

 

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Below: Adelaide Advertiser, 1941.Bib & Bub, the ‘gumnut children’ were drawn by May Gibbs – in my youth every child grew up with this pair. I often wondered why they never wore clothes. At least the concertina player, a kangaroo, has the decency. From

1941 ade adv

Left – Larrikin player The Australiasian, 1908.

 

The Arrown Syd. Dec 1901

Above> The Arrow, Sydney. 1901

World's News 1908

Left. cartoon 1908 World’s News Sydney

Caption:

Old Ned: “So yer goin’ to Sydney for a trip at last, Bill?

Bill Outback:  “Yes, Ned, going’ down to have a look at the races”

Old Ned: “What ‘ave you got in the handkerchief, Bill?”

Bill Outback: “The concertina: there sure to be a dance after th’ races”

Qld Figaro, 1886

Promptly Settled!

If you don’t pay my bill I will sit down here and play the concertina all night and I only know ‘See-Saw’

The bill was paid!

Above Queensland Figaro 1886

 

"Ladies and gents, we will now play a selection from 'Vermicelli' by Figibernans. Now then, Bill, let her go one-two-three... splash... and Jim's eye copped the pasta sauce.

“Ladies and gents, we will now play a selection from ‘Vermicelli’ by Figibernans. Now then, Bill, let her go one-two-three… splash… and Jim’s eye copped the pasta sauce.

 

 

 

Left: Queensland Figaro 1883.

Do you speak French? No, but my brother plays the German Concertina.

Caption: (She) Do you speak French? (He) No, but my brother plays the German Concertina.

Above: Queensland Figaro 1887

sun mail qld 192

Caption:

Husband: “I ask you, Ethel, who’s been making a concertina of my hat?”

Wife: “Yes, dear. You came home playing it last night!”

(Left) Queensland Sunday Mail 1929

Cartoon strip with exploding concertina.

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Professionals. Over the years many professional players toured Australia and New Zealand. Some billed themselves as ‘Professor of the Concertina’ and others ‘Doctor’.

Table Talk Meb 1913

Sun Times Syd 12 Jan 1913.prince

1942

left – professional concertina player Alexander Prince  in ‘Table Talk’. 1912

Alexander Prince (left 1913) Sunday Times

Left: Miss Hawkes image from the World’s News Sydney 1908. Mr Prince 1942

world's news Syd 11jan 1908

1942

Praise the Lord and Squeeze the concertina.

The concertina received wide circulation after the Salvation Army adopted it in the late 19th century. Apparently the Sallies were keen to have an instrument the bush workers would feel comfortable with.

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Kalgoolie Argus 1903

blind

Left: Kalgoorlie Argus 1900

Above: WA Orchestra of the Blind     West Australian Times. circa 1940s

sallies

Below: Don Woodhouse, Salvational Army player. Photo: Warren Fahey. Don’s story and playing is in my NLA collection.

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 above: SMH 1942w.w.

(left) This evangelical preacher was a fixture of Queen street, Brisbane, Queensland, for decades. Praise the Lord (and pass the ammunition). Sunday Mail, Brisbane. 1970s

whoop whoop school band n'cle sun feb1923

Above: The Woop Woop School Band and star concertina player. Newcastle Sun. Feb 23, 1923

Bits and pieces.

B40091 IM4E7B~1 qld Fig 1886

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1930 Emerad Bridgeblackface+minstrels+1875University+of+Texas+at+Austin.-1

The traveling black face minstrels of the 1850s goldrush era introduced and popularized the concertina, typically the  anglo-german variety. For a full history of the Australian goldrush and music of that period, check out my book The World Turned Upside Down (in the site’s shop or iTunes)