Matthew Caulfield's post yesterday [120327 MMDigest] reminded me
of a question I had wanted to pose. He brought up Murray Clark, who
built the collection exhibited at Clark's Trading Post, his family's
summer attraction in New Hampshire. This collection was instrumental
(pardon the pun) in developing my interest in mechanical music and,
due to its size and breadth as well as its public location, I imagine
it must have helped attract at least a few others.
Murray Clark passed away in January 2010 after protracted illness.
I had noticed, sadly, that the condition of the instruments in the
collection seemed to be deteriorating over the years of his illness.
Many instruments ceased to play to their full potential, and others
ceased to play at all.
My last visit to Clark's was during summer 2010. I chose to spend my
tourism dollars elsewhere due to the condition of the collection, as
well as the attitude of some of the employees there. Some employees,
including Murray Clark himself, were welcoming, pleasant, and glad to
see my interest in the instruments. Others, however, were rude and
condescending, found the instruments to be a nuisance to which they
did not want to listen, and made that abundantly clear to me.
I got the impression over the years that mechanical music was pretty
much exclusively Murray Clark's pursuit and that the rest of the
Clark family does not share his interest. After his passing I rather
expected that the instruments from his collection would be sold off,
and I am somewhat surprised I have not seen them on the market. Has
anyone visited Clark's since summer 2010? I would be very interested
to hear a report on the condition of the collection.
If Clark's is going to continue to display the instruments Murray Clark
collected, I hope the family will put more effort into maintaining the
collection. I would be happy to put in time there in that regard, if
only I knew what to do, since I think a collection of that size in
public is a great tool to inform more people about mechanical music.
If they are going to divest themselves of the collection, however, I'd
like to be first in line for some of those beautiful instruments that
helped form my interest!
TJ Fisher - Washington & Lee University '15