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MMD > Archives > June 1997 > 1997.06.20 > 07Prev  Next

Aeolian American Corp. 1940 - 1957 ?
By Dave Kerr

Hello to All,

    The AMICA 97 Convention drew to a splendid close this Sunday past for
another year and a great time was available to all. MBSI'ers are in for a
treat in August - and pack your favorite insect repellent.

    Along with the memories, 26 W&W Angelus 58n Symphony rolls accompanied
me back to Ontario to court and spark with my 1901 Orchestral push-up; I had
despaired of finding such things so conveniently. 65n rags are safe from my
trimmer knife.

    The restored 1950 Aeolian Pianola keytop player on a Kawai digital
keyboard that I took down caused somewhat of a minor revelatory sensation,
particularly when the shell was removed for workshop day. Which leads to my
earnest request for assistance.

    Combining my four years of research with the revealing archives and
original prototype in the care of Ken Volk, the full story of this
heretofore underappreciated machine will be revealed in a not-too-distant

    In aid of filling in some blanks and to flesh out the article, can any
of you fine folks direct me to a book or provide an oral history of the
Aeolian American Corporation of Rochester NY for the years spanning ~1940,
throughout the war (was the plant involved in supporting the military effort
and what did they manufacture?), up to the introduction of the plastic
unit-valved Hardman-Peck Duo in 1957 and it's sister, the 1960 64n spinet,
also going by the name Pianola?

    I would also like the names of the 1950 era Shop Foreman/Supervisor, the
Treasurer, the Secretary, the Vice-President and the President as they all
figure significantly in the story.

    I am given to understand that the Aeolian 'papers' have not yet surfaced
since the breakup of the Corporation in the 1980s; also that the Rochester
facility was active in the 1960s servicing the occasional Ampico and
Duo-Art. Thank you, Bruce Clark.

    For contrast I would also like to include a little bit about the 1960s
pneumatic keytop units, the Electone and the Dynavoice, with which I have
only a glancing acquaintance.

    You will be amply rewarded when you read of the strange and curious road
that led to the development, manufacture, misleading introductory media
blitz and apparent overnight withdrawall of this miraculous keytop
great-granddaughter of the original circa 1902 88n Pianola 'vorsetzer'.

    History thanks you and I thank you for any tidbits you can toss my way.
From tiny ripples to Tesumi.

    cross-fingered in Canada,
    Dave Kerr.

(Message sent Fri 20 Jun 1997, 22:02:03 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  1940, 1957, Aeolian, American, Corp

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