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MMD > Archives > January 2008 > 2008.01.05 > 01Prev  Next

Original Wurlitzer Shipping Dock Records
By Matthew Caulfield

Jon Fortunato wrote in 080104 MMDigest:

> I'm trying to obtain the serial number of a Wurlitzer 153 band
> organ that was last seen at Boulder Amusement Park in Indian Falls,
> New York, from 1949 to 1970.  It was purchased in 1919 or 1920 by
> either Theophilus Morrot or Emily Bourgard.  If anyone has access
> to the original Wurlitzer records, I'd love to hear from them [sic].

The original and famous Wurlitzer Shipping Dock Records, from
which Q. David Bowers extracted the data shown on p. 932-933 of his
"Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments," presenting in tabular
form an estimate of the number of band organs of various styles made
by Wurlitzer during the period covered by those records (1916-1939),
are now owned by David Reidy, of Santa Ana, Calif.

Those records have passed through many hands (Wurlitzer, Ralph Tussing,
Doyle Lane, Don Rand, David Reidy, I believe) and it stands to reason
that copies would have been made before they were passed on.  But nobody
will admit to having a copy.  Mr. Reidy says the records are becoming
fragile and faded, which makes them a candidate for preservation

The organs listed in the records are in serial-number order, but since
the serial numbers are said to have been assigned chronologically at
the time the organs were shipped, knowing the approximate date an organ
was shipped should allow you to find your instrument even though you
don't know its serial number.  (The belief that serial numbers were
assigned on the Wurlitzer shipping dock is somewhat beclouded by the
placement of the serial number, stamped -- often in more than one place
-- on the wood of an organ.  In a few cases the serial number is found
stamped in a location that would be difficult to get at, if the organ
were completely assembled.  But that is a small point.)

There are two other Wurlitzer documents that might be of interest in
your search, and they are both preserved today in the Richard J. Howe
archives at the University of Maryland, College Park, as part of the
IPAM collection (IPAM being the International Piano Archives at

One document is listed thus in the university's index to the Howe

  "Wurlitzer Manufacturing Records for Band Organs: Serial No.
2847-4375, March 7, 1914-August 14, 1935."  61 p., 8     1/2x11 (1-C)

The other is listed as:

  "Wurlitzer Repair Records for Band Organs, April 5, 1918-June 2,
1939." 32  p., 8 1/2x11 (1-C)

I don't know what the "1-C" means, but this is exactly how the two
entries read in the index to the thousands of items in the Howe

Now, a question.  What is Jon going to do with the serial number when
he finds it?

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Sat 5 Jan 2008, 17:00:51 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Dock, Original, Records, Shipping, Wurlitzer

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