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MMD > Archives > February 1999 > 1999.02.05 > 11Prev  Next

Aeolian Aeriol and Aeriola Piano Player Devices
By Julian Dyer

I think the history of the Aeriol is that the Aeolian company, led
by the Tremaines, developed it as their own piano player mechanism,
but purchased Votey's Pianola when they had the opportunity to do so.
(The Pianola was not actually invented by Aeolian Company, but by
Votey, who sold out to Aeolian and joined their board.  The Votey
Organ Company is listed as an Aeolian subsidiary in books like Alfred
Dolge's.  Perhaps Rex Lawson's forthcoming history of early Aeolian
will inform us of the finer points in all this.)

At this point the original Aeriol design was dropped and the name
Aeriola applied instead to Pianola instruments, as Dan Wilson said,
presumably to widen the market.  Michael Broadway's push-up player
is a standard flat-top 65-note Aeolian Themodist Pianola in everything
but name.  (I'm guessing that the name switched from Aeriol to Aeriola
at that point; everything had to have an '-ola' by then!)

I have a number of early Aeolian 65-note piano rolls.  Most of these
are named 'Piano', but some instead say 'Aeriol Piano' or even just
'Aeriol' -- identical in every other respect (numbering, label type-
face, physical roll) to the 'Piano' series.  From Aeolian's address
given on the label of these rolls, you can tell some are 1902 or
slightly earlier.  At least Aeolian made no effort to hide the fact
that Aeriol was one of their brand names.

So, some questions remain:  When did Aeolian finally drop the Aeriol
name?  Are any original Aeriol instruments known?  It would be fun to
have one!

Julian Dyer

(Message sent Fri 5 Feb 1999, 13:01:17 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aeolian, Aeriol, Aeriola, Devices, Piano, Player

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