The Wayne Collection represents an overview of concertina making in Britain, from the 1830s through to the instrument’s late 20th century revival.
The Horniman Museum purchased the collection in 1996, with the assistance of a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It consists of more than six hundred concertinas and related free reed instruments. It has a substantial archive, including the surviving 19th century ledgers of the Wheatstone concertina factory. The focus of the collection is on the work of the physicist Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875), who patented what became known as the English concertina in 1844. The collection includes a number of his prototypes and experimental models. There are also a wide range of concertinas and aeolas produced by the family firm, C. Wheatstone & Co., among them duet models and instruments made for concertina bands that were regularly played in competitions from the 1860s until the Second World War.
In the 1850s, the English concertina became a fashionable instrument, reaching the peak of production. Many of the Wheatstones’ employees established their own businesses, among them Louis Lachenal, Joseph Scates and George Jones. The Wayne Collection represents their work - and that of many other makers based in Britain and Ireland. The collection also includes French, Italian, German and Dutch accordions.
The ledgers of the Wheatstone factory chronicle the fortunes of the firm from May 1834 to December 1891. They provide a wealth of information about the concertinas sold by the firm, including serial numbers, dates of sale, and often the names of their purchasers. They also list some of the specific tasks of the workers.