When the master mystery writer Wilkie Collins placed the concertina in the hands of the aristocratic Count Fosco and the aspiring young lawyer Mr Pedgift, jun., in The Woman in White (1860) and Armadale (1866), respectively, he was portraying the instrument’s social status at the time with pinpoint accuracy. 2 To be sure, such upper-crust company does not square with present-day images of the concertina, which tend to connect the instrument with the likes of morris dancing, street musicians, whaling ships and music halls, yet these associations came to predominate only in the final quarter or so of the nineteenth century. 3 Prior to that time, the story of the concertina – especially the ‘English’ concertina 4 – was quite different. Indeed, beginning in the late 1820s, when it was developed by 56the physicist Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802–75), 5 through its first great success on the concert stage at the 1837 Birmingham Festival, to the Collins novels of the 1860s, the concertina was most comfortably at home in England’s leading concert halls and upper-class drawing-rooms, where its repertory included music by such respected composers as John Barnett, Julius Benedict, George Alexander Macfarren and Bernhard Molique, as well as by a number of concertina virtuosos. In fact, one estimate has it that, during its first four decades of production – from the 1830s into the 1860s – Wheatstone and Co., the most prestigious manufacturer of the concertina, sold approximately 80 per cent of its instruments to men and women of social privilege: titled aristocrats, ‘professionals’, the well-to-do among those ‘in trade’, high-ranking military officers and members of the clergy. 6