Hello MMD readers, In the 981205 issue of the MMD, I submitted
the following text, with the incorrect spelling of the famous
> The narrow pianos were designed for the yachting trade, and one of
> these instruments is on Eagle Island today, in Casco Bay, Maine --
> the property of Adm. Perry, who went to the polar regions.
I figured this incorrect spelling for the famous "narrow" Aeolian
player upright owner would be corrected if the posting were published.
It wasn't, so I'm adding the following material from the Encyclopaedia
> Peary, Robert Edwin
> b. May 6, 1856, Cresson, Pa., U.S. -- d. Feb. 20, 1920, Washington,
> D.C.), U.S. Arctic explorer usually credited with leading the first
> expedition to reach the North Pole (1909).
and this also, from the Britannica text about the explorer:
> On the last stage of the trek he was accompanied by Henson and
> four Eskimos. Peary and his companions purportedly reached the
> North Pole on April 6, 1909. Peary returned to civilization only
> to discover that his former colleague, Cook, was claiming to have
> reached the North Pole independently in April 1908. Cook's claim,
> though subsequently discredited, marred Peary's enjoyment of his
> triumph. In 1911 Peary retired from the navy with the rank of rear
> admiral. His published works include Northward over the "Great Ice"
> (1898), The North Pole (1910), and Secrets of Polar Travel (1917).
> Peary's claim to have reached the North Pole was almost universally
> accepted, but in the 1980s the examination of his 1908-09 expedition
> diary and other newly released documents cast doubt on whether he had
> actually reached the pole. Through a combination of navigational
> mistakes and record-keeping errors, Peary may actually have advanced
> only to a point 30-60 miles (50-100 km) short of the pole. The truth
> remains uncertain.
Relatives of the Peary (pronounced "Peery" in Maine, by the way!)
have visited our mechanical music museum, The Musical Wonder House,
on several occasions in the early 'Seventies, discussing the possible
restoration of the special 65-Note keyboard Aeolian player upright at
the family residence on Eagle Island, Maine. While nothing came of
these discussions, the Peary summer home has since become an historic
site and is open at certain times for visitors. Access to the island,
however, is by boat, so anyone wishing to view the "ship style" of
Pianola Piano should check with the hours and ferry schedules, possibly
beginning with Casco Bay Lines in Portland.
I have read some of Peary's published books, and they make references
to playing "Faust Transcriptions" as his boats plowed the Arctic
waters. He also brought a Columbia Graphophone with him, given to the
Eskimos with wax cylinder recordings of his voice, according to some
of these books and articles.
The Aeolian upright was supposedly "made for" Peary, according to some
of the old articles I've read, but since that time I've seen references
to this kind of instrument in Aeolian advertisements, which suspect
that it was a special order product, much like the folding keyboard
Orchestrelles built by the same company.
Sorry about the "Perry" typo!
Regards from Maine,
Douglas Henderson, Artcraft Music Rolls
[ I'm ashamed that I overlooked the error, Douglas. Thanks for
[ sending the interesting history. -- Robbie