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MMD > Archives > December 2003 > 2003.12.05 > 02Prev  Next

Book "The Organ-Builder" by Charles Ferguson
By Craig Smith

Hi,  Some time ago, I had a phone conversation with a very nice
fellow about the music on a serinette he has.  He kept referring to
the Dom Bedos organ book and telling me that the organette he had
was just like the box described in that book.  He finally gave me
the ISBN for the book so I could see for myself.

I searched looked in the library and several book stores with no
luck at all.  Then I checked B&N used books and found a copy for $800
(two volumes).  I took the other route and sent in an inter-library
request for this title (25 cents).  No problem, a set of very large
books (20 pounds easy) arrived in a couple weeks from William and
Mary College in Virginia.  I had also ordered a booklet (32 pages,
value $12) about John Harrison the clockmaker and it arrived at the
same time.

The clerk was happy to loan me the Dom Bedos books for three weeks
and renew them for another three.  Oh, I had to surrender my car keys
while I looked at the $12 Harrison booklet on a table near the main
desk (go figure!).

Well, wasn't I surprised to discover that the book was translated by
Charles Ferguson, the very same fellow who had called me about the bird
organ.  No wonder he kept referring me to the pictures in this book.
Also, inside the front of the book was a list of the 600 or so patrons
who sponsored the translation.  This included the Eastman School of
Music right here in Rochester.  I called then and they still have their
copy for me to look at whenever I want.

This set has two volumes, one contains the whole text of the book
and the other has the illustrations.  There are dozens of engravings
of every step in the process of making an organ, including scales of
many ranks of pipes and even a section on small hand organs like the

Turns out that I, too,  have an organ just like the one in the book.
In fact, inside my organ is an old label with the name "Fr. Dom
Francois Bedos de Celles" and the date 1764.

The engravings are a marvel in themselves.  Everything from pictures
of the table where they poured the metal for the pipes to a double
fold-out of an entire organ facade and everything in between.  It must
have taken years for the engravers to make the illustrations.  I poured
over them for hours, and I discussed them at length with Jeff Vincent
and Bob Cole looking for comparisons to organs we had worked on or
built over the years.

The bad news, in a way, is that you (Joe) already have most of the
pictures.  The various modern books that refer to antique organs and
organ builders have included pictures that they have either copied or
modified from the Dom Bedos volume.  The ones that you (Joe) already
sent me while we were discussing his project include several.  If any
of the other MMD readers have suggestions for Joe, please offer a hand.
This will be quite a project and the more information he has the

Craig Smith
near Rochester New York

P.S.: By the way, I just looked again at that paper in the
serinette and I think I have read it wrong.  It appears to say,
"From Don Franko, Best Wishes 1964"  Sorry!

(Message sent Fri 5 Dec 2003, 14:11:21 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Book, Charles, Ferguson, Organ-Builder

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