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MMD > Archives > January 1998 > 1998.01.09 > 01Prev  Next

Serinettes, Merlines and Perroquettes
By Philippe Rouillé

I gave yesterday in the Digest some precisions about Serinettes.  Let
me add the following, due to some questions asked to me by another
MMD member:

Serinettes rarely bear a date of fabrication or donation.  The oldest
one with a date is from around 1750 (I am not able to find the exact
reference at the moment).  But the first serinettes were probably built
at the beginning of the XVIIIth century.

Serinettes with interchangeable cylinders (sometimes found in their
original wooden boxes) with 2 or 3 ranks of pipes are not rare: they
are called Merlines or Perroquettes, supposed to make blackbirds
(Merle) or parrots sing.  Their sound is more powerful, and you may
choose the stops you want to play (one, two, or all together).  All
these instruments are designed to be put on a table.

When they are larger and have their own feet, they are named "Orgues
de Salon" (Chamber barrel organs, for the home), usually with 19 to 23
keys, and 3 to 5 stops.  Always cranked with a handle.  Sometimes there
is a small percussion added (usually in the XIXth century): a tambour-
ine, or one or two bells, or even a triangle.  Some of these organs
were designed for church use; they may be very large.

The main production center for all these was Mirecourt (east of
France), but a great number of chamber and church organs were made
in England too.

A very nice serinette, about 1800, by a very well-known maker
(Davrainville), which is in the museum in Les Gets (France) may be
seen on the web page :

You may see an "orgue de Salon", same web site, choose A-Z, and
"Barrel-Organ", or go to:

It is a rare organ by Gavioli from Paris (home barrel organ, and not a
fairground organ as one might think from the first appearance).

Best regards,

Philippe Rouille (Paris, France)

(Message sent Fri 9 Jan 1998, 22:18:36 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Merlines, Perroquettes, Serinettes

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