Bacigalupi/Parker Wurlitzer mystery (and a question, if you read so long)
MMD subscriber Bill Black recently acquired some original style 165 band
organ rolls, among which are two not known in any other collection today.
But there is also another one which is interesting for what its label
suggests. The roll itself is not unique: it has already been recut from
another copy and is known to collectors of 165 rolls as the "Bacigalupi
Special", because a note on that copy said that "it was done by P[eter]
Bacigalupi who did band organ repair and music arranging in Los Angeles,
CA, up through the 1950's."
While 4 of the tunes on the Bacigalupi roll also appeared on Wurlitzer-
made rolls, the arrangements are different in each case, and it is
certain for that reason and for several other reasons that Wurlitzer did
not make the roll. Probably Bacigalupi did, as its label claimed.
Because of the unique hole spacing of Wurlitzer rolls, there has been no
evidence -- nor any suspicion -- up to now that any company other than
Wurlitzer produced style 165 rolls up to 1946, when Wurlitzer sold off
its roll business. I had assumed that the "Bacigalupi Special" was made
some time after World War II to fill a need. The fact that the tunes on
the roll were, with the exception of the "Poet and Peasant Overture,"
from the 1914-1918 period did not persuade me otherwise. Wurlitzer had
no known competition, period!
Now along comes Bill Black's copy of the roll, bearing a label which
states "Made at the Parker Factory, Leavenworth, Kansas. Roll #3 Style
165 (10 Tune Length)." The Parker label's list of 7 tunes renames the
one march on the roll -- which is actually Harry J. Lincoln's "Old
Reliable" and is so identified on the "Bacigalupi Special" label --
as the "C. W. Parker March."
Anyone familiar with Parker knows that he claimed to be the maker of
whatever he sold and that he was a real self-promoter; so it isn't
surprising that Parker adopted Lincoln's march as his own. (If Parker
had sold the Mona Lisa he would have claimed to have painted it himself
and said that the woman in the picture was Mrs. C. W. Parker, probably
re-titling the picture as the "Mona Parker")
So a grain of salt is needed here.
The one certain fact is that the "Bacigalupi Special" roll is identical
with Parker's Roll #3. Which means that it must have been arranged and
manufactured in the 1920's. Parker went out of business in 1932. That
raises two question Bill Black and I would like to get answered:
1. Who had the capacity in the 1920's to perforate style 165 rolls
2. How many rolls were made besides this "Roll #3"?
One might ask an incidental third question: Why would anyone bother to
compete with Wurlitzer, when potential sales wouldn't justify costs?
Suddenly Bacigalupi becomes more than an interesting name. We are now
trying to pull together information about the Bacigalupi family of band
organ men in the California area. MMD seems like a good place to start.
Do you have any Bacigalupi information or leads to Bacigalupi history?
[ Could the California family be related to the famous Bacigalupo clan
[ of Berlin, who dominated the small crank-organ industry? -- Robbie