MEXON - A newly Discovered Missing Link?
This previously unknown organette found it's way into my hands recently
having been bought by well-known dealer Brian Chesters from another
dealer in Belgium. No previous history is known.
It is quite exciting to find an instrument not mentioned in David Bowers'
Encyclopedia or any other magazines or literature in my own or the
Archives possession, even if there is a large tear in the feeders and
therefore hardly any pressure!
This is a rather large instrument being 13" high, 18-1/2" wide and
16-1/2" deep. The case has a few lines of shallow incising which may
have been 'gold' originally to match the name transfer. There is also
a star shape on each of the four turned corner legs.
The only possible clue as to who made it is that the turned corner legs
are EXACTLY the same as on a 24 note Manopan organette as pictured in a
book from a German Museum. This may mean they were made by the same
company or simply that the same wood turner made the corner legs. On
the other hand one could have copied a successful design from the other.
It takes 60 turns of the long handle to play one disc.
At first, before I had seen it, I thought it might be a member of the
Ariston 'family' but the construction is totally different. The hold-
down bar above the keyframe is ornately cast and has NINE teeth in it,
that is, 3 keys stick up between each 'tooth' on the hold down bar. On
an Ariston there are usually two keys between each tooth and sometimes
just one, but never three.
The most significant difference is in that the top lid does NOT form an
air tight seal as part of the main reservoir. The reservoir is in the
centre bottom of the instrument as can be seen in photo No. 1 and there
are four pressure feeders at the sides of the reservoir. The air is
pushed through two holes about 1" diameter into the reed chamber which
contains 48 Steel reeds which appear to be 24 notes tuned in Celeste.
There is a swell flap in the size of the instrument which is hinged at
the bottom and in prevented from hitting the table top by a piece of
pink ribbon. This might be a little like the Herophon or Manopan
(neither of which I have in my collection for comparison).
The central drive cog wheel is in brass and is of very thick and heavy
construction. I can find no dates or names inside the instrument and
the bottom boards have been renewed loosing the serial number of date
which may have been found there.
The is an enormous 'bedspring' underneath to give pressure to the
reservoir in the way you would expect with a German made instrument.
There are only 9 discs with the instrument, but it is interesting to
note that six of them say 'Anfang' to denote the start, two say
'Commencement' and one says 'Beginning'. I think this shows the
instrument was made in Germany to be sold also in France and England.
The discs are 24 note and all are made of zinc. The diameter is 12-3/4"
or about 323 mm. There is one central locating hole and four drive
holes which are further out from the centre of the disc than on an
Ariston of 24 notes. The centre of the drive holes is 42 mm from the
centre of the disc. The outer track of music on the disc is much nearer
the edge than on an Ariston, there being only about 2-1/2 mm between the
outside edge of the highest note hole and the edge of the disc. There
is no decoration of any kind on these discs which are all considerably
scored on the back by the pressure of the keys.
I would very much like to find.
1. Who made this machine?
2. What is the tuning scale?
3. Can I get any more discs from any where for it.
Mexon Tune List.
3 FaustWalzer / Gounod / Anfang
244 Gasparone Mazurka / Millocker / Anfang
2310 Tingelingeling Rheinlander / Anfgang
2341 Hulda Mazurka / Wolff / Anfgang
161 Rosina Walzer / Genee [unclear] / Anfgang
1550 Perlette Polka facile p. / Marin / Commencement
2436 Polka des Englisch's n' Christine / Beginning
2430 Valse Bleu. / Margis / Commencement
579 La Mascotte Polka. / not given / Anfang
98 Colonia Rheinlander v. / Arndt / Anfang
Any help would be appreciated.
Keith Reedman, Derbyshire, England
Stop Press! It has been noticed that this 'Mexon' looks exactly the
same as the 'Iris' organette pictured on page 747 of Bowers. Does
anyone reading this have an Iris organette or spare discs to fit one?
[ Could you send a photo to us, John? To <email@example.com>
[ -- Robbie