Mascotte

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The Mascotte organette was made by Gately Mfg. It plays a 2.5″ roll, making it one of the smallest organettes ever produced. It has 14 notes.

Symphonia

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The Symphonia organette was produce by the Wilcox & White Organ Co. of Meriden, CT circa 1894. It is a 20 note reed organ.

Polly Portable

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The Polly Portable Phonograph was manufactured by the Polly Portable Phonograph Company of New York around 1925.

The unusual aspect of the Polly is that it does not have reproducer nor a horn. They are replaced by 16” diameter piece of stiff paper with an approximately 45-degree wedge cut out of it. It becomes a horn by bringing the edges of the wedge together and fitting a rivet on one edge into a notch on the other. The result looks something like a small satellite dish. When not in use, the horn folds into thirds and conveniently  stores inside the lid.

The paper cone produces a nice tone and has adequate volume.

 

Single Violano

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This is a Mills Single Violano-Virtuoso. The Mills Novelty Company produced from 4,000 to 5,000 Violanos between 1914 and 1930.

Unlike most automatic instruments, Violanos operate on electricity rather than air. Holes in a scrolling paper roll cause electrical contacts, which energize solenoids to trigger piano hammers, press metal fingers on the violin neck, and lower bow wheels onto the violin strings. The violin can play 64 notes, up to four at a time; the piano has 44 notes.

Columbia Majestic

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The Columbia Majestic, also known as the “BD”, came out in 1905. It featured an elegant rounded-corner case and a nickel-plated paneled horn. The model sold for $100.

Le Charmeur

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This pretty French phonograph from the early 1900s plays two-minute cylinder recordings. It came in a velvet lined, faux leather case.

Ad from the Petit Parisien newspaper of October 1902.

Mikiphone

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The Mikiphone was manufactured by the Swiss company Maison Paillard. They produced between 150,000 and 200,000 of them in the mid 1920’s. At 4″ in diameter and under two pounds it is the smallest portable phonograph. Though it is pictured with a small record it is capable of playing full-size ones. In place of a horn, it uses a Bakelite resonator box which breaks into two parts for packing. A diagram in the lid shows how to just barely fit all the parts inside.

Phonograph Lamp

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This is a combination phonograph and lamp manufactured by Burns & Pollock in the 1920s. The turntable is driven by an electric motor, but there is no electrical amplification. The base of the lamp doubles as the horn, directing the sound down and out. There are two lightbulbs below the phonograph and a small bulb next to the turntable.

HMV Lumiere

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This is a model 460 HMV Lumiere in an oak case. HMV (His Master’s Voice) was a brand of the Gramophone Company Ltd. of London. The Lumiere gramophone replaced the usual reproducer, tone arm and horn with a pleated paper diaphragm. The center of the diaphragm is directly connected to the needle via a thin metal lever. The Lumiere was not a commercial success and was only manufactured for two years (1924-1925).

Pedestal Style Gem

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Gem roller organs were made by the Autophone Co. of Ithaca, NY from the mid-1800s to the 1900s. This is a very early model; later ones have an enclosed bellows. It is also known as a cob organ because the music is provided on a  cob-sized wooden cylinder with inserted steel pins. As the cylinder rotates, the pins press the valve covers to open them.

One of the least expensive organettes, it was advertised in the Sears catalog for $3.25. It has 20 notes.

(photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations)

Manopan

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The Manopan was made by Berliner Musikinstrumenten (Charles F Pietschmann & Sohne) in Berlin, Germany circa 1887. This model has 24 notes. It plays both continuous loop and cardboard book music.

(photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations) 

Organina

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The Organina was one of dozens of organette brands made by the Massachusetts Organ Company. This is the Mignonette model, which has 16 notes.

Ads for the Organina stressed the fact that the paper roll was not the valve for the reeds. Instead, the paper holes triggered mechanical tracker arms that operated the valves. It’s also one of the few organettes that offered external roll spools.

(photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations)

Phoenix

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Phoenix organettes were made by Schmidt & Co., Phonix Musikwerke of Leipzig, Germany from 1870 – 1905. This 34B model has 24 notes. The media is a zinc ring-shaped disc. There were different diameter discs made to accommodate different length tunes.

(photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations)

Herophon

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The Herophon was manufactured by Euphonika of Leipzig, Germany circa 1905. This model has 24 notes. It’s unusual operation rotates the entire player mechanism while the punched cardboard disc remains  stationary, This design was meant to get around a patent held by competitor Ariston – a strategy that didn’t hold up in court. (photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations)

Clariophon

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Clariophon

The Clariophone was manufactured by William Spathe of Germany.  It has 24 notes. The media is most unusual: a lead sheet with raised dimples to activate the notes. The interchangeable sheets are wrapped around a wooden barrel to play.

(photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations)

Autophone

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22-note autophone

This 22-note Autophone model was the first table-top organette produced in America. It was manufactured in 1878 by the Autophone Co. of Ithaca, NY.

It is operated by squeezing and releasing a bellows. That both forced air through the reeds and advance the paper roll one note. An interesting feature is that one hole position on the roll could double the duration of a note, effectively reducing the required roll length.

(photo provided by Harold Draper of Roller Organ Restorations)

Chickering Ampico A Grand

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Chickering Ampico A grand

This is a 1926 Chickering grand piano with an Ampico Model A player mechanism. It is a 5’6″ grand with a walnut art case. This is an example of a reproducing piano, which differs from an standard player piano in its ability to vary the note dynamics (volume) as it plays.

The roll mechanism and volume and tempo controls are located in a pullout drawer under the keyboard.

Everything is controlled pneumatically with the exception of the electric motor that drives the vacuum pump. The pneumatics are located under the main body of the piano.

Wurlitzer Style 150 Military Band Organ

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c. 1928

Manufactured by Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of North Tonawanda, NY.

Contains brass trumpets, several ranks of pipes, and traps.

This organ was voiced very loud and was intended for use on amusement park midways to play over the noise of the crowd. According to Wurlitzer’s advertising, “The cost of five musicians for evening sessions only will pay for this organ in a few weeks.”

Wurlitzer Style LX

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c. 1921

Manufactured by Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of North Tonawanda, NY.

Contains a piano with mandolin feature, 38 violin and 38 flute pipes.

This was the last of the Wurlitzer keyboard orchestrion series. The “wonder light” at the top revolves as the machine plays.

Wurlitzer Style CX with Roll Changer

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c. 1917

Manufactured by Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of North Tonawanda, NY.

The automatic roll changer was a hugely popular feature for Wurlitzer. It plays six five-tune rolls instead of one ten-tune roll. This model has a popular CX style case.

Wurlitzer Style 125 Band Organ

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c. 1929

Manufactured by Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of Tonawanda, NY.

The visible instruments included 13 brass trumpets, 11 brass piccolos, 13 wooden flageolets, 2 drums, and cymbal.

Wurlitzer advertised this organ as “especially designed for small to medium rinks”.  It was the workhorse of the Wurlitzer organs, found in many amusements parks.

Wurlitzer Mandolin PianOrchestra model 12

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c. 1915

Manufactured by Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. in North Tonawanda, NY.

Contains 37 violin and violincello pipes, piano, mandolin, bass and snare drum, and cymbal.

Wurlitzer produced the cases; the interior mechanisms were manufactured by Phillips of Germany. The model features a carved peacock with a “wonder light” tail. A total of 61 of this model were produced.

Welte Style 2 Cottage

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c. 1893

Manufactured by M. Welte & Sons of Freiburg, Germany.

Contains 152 pipes, snare and base drums, triangle, and cymbal.

This model is considered to be an outstanding example of orchestrion building. Its “starburst” pipework is voiced exceptionally well and plays classical as well as modern songs of the era.

Weber Otero

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c. 1927

Manufactured by Gebruder Weber of Waldkirch, Germany.

Contains a Feurich piano, ranks of pipes, mandolin, and full traps.

The large Webers of the late 1920’s represent the zenith of sophisticated orchestrion building and music arranging. This model features side cabinets for roll storage, brass trim, and elaborate beveled mirrors.

Seth Thomas with Regina Music Box

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Manufactured by Seth Thomas Clock Company of Thomaston, CT.

This rare model has Regina changer built into the base. It has the option of playing either a traditional chime or a tune at the top of the hour.

Seeburg Style H

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c. 1922

Manufactured by J. P. Seeburg Company in Chicago, IL.

Contains violin and flute pipes, xylophone, snare and base drum, and traps.

The Style H is considered to be the most ornate American orchestrion ever made. It has two statues (named Strength & Beauty), four art glass panels, three hanging lamps, and side “clown” glass. Most were made with quartered oak.

Popper Welt Style X

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c. 1922

Manufactured by Popper & Company in Leipzig, Germany.

Contains two ranks of pipes, xylophone, wood block, drums, and cymbal.

The large Welt machines feature back lighted, animated scenes, usually including fountains or waterfalls. This example is one of three Style X’s know to exist.

Popper Welt Style O

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c. 1925

Manufactured by Popper & Company in Leipzig, Germany.

Contains one rank of pipes, mandolin, xylophone, base and snare drums, and cymbal.

The Style O features a large animated scene. This was added to compete against the latest media: radio.

Popper Vindobona

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c. 1915

Manufactured by Popper & Company of Leipzig, Germany.

Contains pipes, snare, cymbal, base drum, full traps, and piano.

Phillips Paganini

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c. 1921

Manufactured by J. D. Phillips & Sons of Frankfort, Germany.

Contains a piano, several ranks of pipes, and full traps.

This Paganini, in a black lacquer case, is the only know example of a keyboardless orchestrion of its type. It has a double roll mechanism.

 

Peerless Style A

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c. 1912

Manufactured by Peerless Piano Player Co. of St. Johnsville, NY.

Contains a piano, one rank of pipes, and traps.

Only one Style A machine is known to exist.

Peerless Style 44

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c. 1898

Manufactured by Peerless Piano Player Co. of St. Johnsville, NY.

This was the first American-made coin-operated piano. Like the Link machines, it employs an endless roll.

Mortier 112 Key Cafe Organ

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c. 1942

Manufactured by Theofiel Mortier of Antwerp, Belgium.

Contains over 600 pipes, accordion, full percussion, xylophone, wood blocks, and other sound effects.

Due to lack of build materials during WWII, the pipes and façade are constructed almost entirely of wood.

Link Style 2E

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c. 1927

Manufactured by the Link Piano Co. of Binghamton, NY.

Contains a piano and repeating xylophone.

All link instruments play a multi-tune continuous roll that never needs rewinding. They are particularly popular for their snappy arrangements.

Limonaire 68 Key Fairground Organ

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c. 1906

Manufactured by Limonaire Freres in Waldkirch, Germany.

Contains ranks of pipes, xylophone, wood blocks, drums, and cymbal.

Large Limonaire organs were voiced for outdoor venues, and have a loud but sweet tone for fairs and amusement park rides. This organ was an incomplete Gavioli instrument when the sale of the Gavioli factory to Limonaire Freres took place.

 

Imhof & Mukle Badenia

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c. 1920

Manufactured by Imhof and Mukle of Waldkirch, Germany.

This impressive orchestrion has three moving scenes and a large original wonder light, in addition to a colorful oak art case. It plays special I & M rolls that resemble early cardboard book music.

Hupfeld Helios Style II/33

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c. 1918

Manufactured by Ludwig Hupfeld in Leipzig, Germany.

Contains many ranks of pipes, full traps, xylophone, mandolin, and Chinese Cymbal.

Originally made for a dance hall in Barcelona, Spain, it is the only Style II/33 known to exist. The cost was 28,000 DM ($83,024 in 2017 dollars). It is equipped with a dual roll system, allowing it to play continuously.

 

National Dog Race Piano

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c. 1915

Manufactured by the National Automatic Music Co. of Grand Rapids, MI.

Inserting a coin plays a tune and bets on the outcome of a mechanical dog race.

Wurlitzer Harp Model A

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c. 1905

Designed and built by J. W. Whitlock of Rising Sun, Indiana.

The harp has 60 strings.

Whitlock built the harps and sold them exclusively to the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company for $250. Wurlitzer retailed them for $750 at the peak of their popularity.

Pierre Eich Solophone

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c. 1920

Manufactured by Pierre Eich in Ghent, Belgium.

The Solophone model was available in several ornately carved oak case styles. It plays custom Pierre Eich rolls.

 

Dutch Street Organ

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c. 2008

Manufactured by NBC Organ of Holland.

The organ was custom built for the Mr. Arnold Chase. It has extensive carvings, statues, and paintings to represent the style of street organs of the 1920s. It is MIDI controlled.

Decap Robot Orchestra

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c. 1957

Manufactured by Gebroeders Decap (Decap Brothers) in Antwerp, Belgium.

Contains several ranks of pipes, a Hammond organ, and a custom synthesizer for trumpet and saxophone voices. One robot plays a Crucianelli piano accordion.

This is the larger of the two robot orchestras, featuring a 105 key organ (the smaller has 92 keys). It is estimated that 10 robot orchestras were built.

 

Cremona Style K

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c. 1912 – 1920

Manufactured by Marquette Piano Company in Chicago, IL.

Contains 79 pipes (30 violin, 30 open flutes, 19 piccolo), castanets, tambourine, triangle, and mandolin attachment.

 

Cremona Style J

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c. 1912

Manufactured by the Marquette Piano Company in Chicago, IL.

The Style J is the largest orchestrion produced by Marquette. This one features a unique clown face design – available on special order.

Blesssing Burgford Castle

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c. 1912

Manufactured by Blessing Family in Unterkirnach, Germany.

Contains a piano and several ranks of pipes.

The Blessing Family, comprising several generations,  manufactured orchestrions from the mid-1800’s through the early 20th century. Only two of the elaborate Castles models still survive.

Arburo Dance Organ

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c. 1930

Manufactured by ARthur BURsens and Gustav ROehls (ARBURO) in Hoboken, Belgium.

The machine plays cardboard books. It features an accordion manufactured by Scandalli.

Ombro-Cinema (Shadow Theater)

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IMG_0258

The Ombro-Cinema is a toy that combines a small music box with an animated story. The story is illustrated on a long strip of paper that is rolled up on two wooden spindles. When the music box is wound and played, it turns one of the spindles causing the paper to scroll behind a window. The animation effect is caused by having two slightly different drawings of each scene cut into thin slices and interlaced. The window has a fence painted on it with bars that are the same width as the drawing slices. Thus, when the paper is scrolled behind the fence the viewer rapidly switches between the two drawing as they are alternately hidden behind the fence.

Ombro-Cinema (Shadow Theater) 1
Ombro-Cinema (Shadow Theater) 2

The toy was manufactured in France around 1910.

This was found at a Seattle toy show around 1998. It came in a well-made cardboard box with the same graphics as the toy. There were four story rolls included, two in black and white and two in color. The story in the photos and video is Puss In Boots.

Wurlitzer 105 Band Organ

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Wurlitzer 105 Band Organ
Wurlitzer 105 Band Organ

Model 105 Wurlitzer band organ, serial number 4069. Documents show a manufacture date of 5-24-1928 and it having been shipped to N. Tonawanda. The base and next layers of paint on this instrument were both stenciled “Allan Herschell Co”. Considering the shipping log, this organ most likely started out as carousel organ. It was restored to the original base layer paint. Plays 125 style rolls.

The audio you hear is of an original Wurlitzer Style 125 roll, Roll No. 3222. This is a march roll with only 6 tunes played at a 10-tune roll length, so each is rather lengthy. Tune #1 (Golden Plume March) was missing from the roll. The remaining 5 tunes are, in order, are:

2. With Flags Aloft (Spirit of West Point)
3. Paean Of Triumph
4. The Merrimac
5. The Marines’ Hymn
6. The Changing of the Guard

Gebrüder Bruder Airophon Model 107 Fairground Organ

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Gebrüder Bruder Airophon Model 107 Fairground Organ
Gebrüder Bruder Airophon Model 107 Fairground Organ

The Gebr. Bruder Model 107 Fairground organ is a 52 keyless instrument. It features 5 bass notes utilizing flutes and low trumpets; 10 accompaniment and 22 melody notes of flutes, violins, and principals; a countermelody produced by 14 trumpets. These sections are played individually, at either piano or forte level, all controlled automatically by the music roll, giving the instrument great dynamics. Also included are a number of percussive effects including: bass drum, cymbal, snare drum, crash cymbal, castanets, triangle, and xylophone. These, along with the 179 pipes, help produce some the happiest music on earth.
This Airophon was built around 1925, and was the first to use roll music, all previous used book. This is the deluxe version, which plays a drum roll cadence during rewind, using small pinned cylinder, a glockenspiel, and a crash cymbal. The latter two are played by the addition of two more holes in the music, holes #0 and #53. This allows it to play standard 52 hole music.

You can see and hear this instrument playing below:

An audio-only version of this same tune is available below

Walbaum Cabinet ca. 1620-25

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2 rank, 17 note organ Helmut Kowar
2 rank, 17 note organ
Helmut Kowar

The Walbaum Cabinet belongs to the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (art history museum) of Vienna. It takes its name from Matthaus Walbaum (1554-1632) to whom the bas reliefs and decorations of the cabinet are attributed.

The cabinet consists of three parts: the base houses the organ works, above it a pavillion like architecture opens its doors to a hall with a dancing lady in it, and on top a clock is placed. The organ works contains two 17 note ranks of wooden pipes, one rank of stopped flutes and one rank of open flutes. A wooden barrel contains two tunes which are manually selected by shifting the keyframe.

This instrument is featured in an article by Helmut Kowar appearing in the May/June 2013 issue of Mechanical Music.

The photo is courtesy of Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, all rights reserved.