This describes a small basket-case[*] 33-key book-playing organ of pos-
sibly Dutch ancestry that I picked up a couple years ago from another
collector with too many projects (now guess who has too many). I intend
to restore this organ and try to figure out its tortured provenance.
What I got includes:
1. An ornate facade white and gold about a meter/yard wide and almost as
high, with some bas-relief faces and figures and three color prints of
scenes, including the stone arch bridge in Oude Amsterdam (?). This
seems to be turn-of-century antique.
2. Attached to this is a case of more recent construction, much smaller
than the facade, about 2 feet wide or the size of a complete 20 or
31-note grind organ. The sides and bottom appear scrounged from
furniture or radio cabinets in the 1920-1950 eras (glossy mahogany).
Large wooden handles on either side appear to be from an American reed
3. A fairly old set of bellows, with dual French feeders linked by
*wooden* pitmans with wooden hitch pins to a metal crankshaft with
90-degree throws, giving 4 impulses per turn. A bolt in the crankshaft
is branded "Nedur", which sounds Dutch to me. Fabric is original and
stiff -- mostly cloth with leather corners.
4. Wooden, hand-whittled elbows and main flange to connect the bellows to
the chest and keyframe.
5. The 33-note keyframe, almost fully restored with new pallets and
guides, with original metal key fingers and rubber-coated roller
chain-driven from the crankshaft (chain included, and it matches). Each
note has a pair of double-acting pallets feeding large diameter lead
6. A stand for 19 front pipes, of "recent" mahogany. Two sets of 4 pipes
in the facade's side arches, plus pyramid of 11 in the raised center
stage opening. These pipes are blown directly from the keyframe pallets.
7. A valve chest and stand for 10 accompaniment Bourdons plus 4 nipples
conveyed to four bass Bourdons screwed under the raised case bottom.
Each valve pallet is pushed by a pillow pneumatic (small "ravioli" packet
of thin cloth) blown from its keyframe pallets. This chest includes a
wooden wind trunk elbow and appears as old as the other old parts, and
has had its share of hacks and repairs but is not hard to restore (anyone
know how to fold pillow pneumatics?)
10. Four books of music -- "Kirnis Mars" march, a waltz, two others, plus
3 short books for tuning. Two books have postcard scenes on the leader;
another has a maker's logo with an organ facade.
The books suggests a fully chromatic range of 2.3 octaves, from F above
middle C to Bb almost 3 octaves above, plus the 4 bass notes. Fully
chromatic seems too nice for a 33-note scale, but...
11. Pipes. Oh yes, the pipes -- I think the originals were at least
partly lost or damaged a few times, and these are a nearly completed
attempt at finding replacements. They don't quite match the books' scale
-- 3 low chromatic notes are missing, so the highest pipe is C# above the
The top 11 melody pipes (center pyramid) are open wood flutes with front
tuning slides, square and flat, heavily varnished, and old, giving strong
and clear piccolo tone. The books say the top three pipes don't belong.
The 8 side front pipes are narrow scale (but with flute-like tone), also
wood with front tuning slides, but nicely rounded on the front side, with
very weak tone. Possibly original.
The 10 accompaniment bourdons are a mix of very old pipes, some mitered
and probably original, others home made of odds and ends, mostly voiced
strong enough for the piccolos despite their narrow scale.
The 4 bass pipes are scrounges from other organs -- two have Vibratone
diaphragms and covered-up holes for Jazz Flute pouches.
12. Various screws, metal elbows, bits and pieces. And a set of photos
showing it partly assembled, with the pipes glued to their seats. They
were all loose when I got them -- probably a previous owner realized they
would have to be shifted to fit the books. Photo envelope is labeled for
a calliope rental shop in Ohio.
What we seem to have here is an organ built and rebuilt from odd parts
around the shop, plus hand-carved elbows and flanges from a "grinder"
with more time than money, plus a recent owner's attempt to fill out the
pipework. Getting this running will be quite a challenge, though each
task is within reason.
All comments and questions appreciated, especially leads to a good
bellows person or suggestions on material to use.
[ * Editor's note:
[ Not knowing for certain if the expression "basket case" is known
[ outside of the USA, I consulted my Oxford-Duden German translating
[ dictionary, which says: "Schwerbeschaedigter ohne Arme und Beine"
[ -- "heavily damaged without arms or legs" !