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MMD > Archives > May 2001 > 2001.05.22 > 01Prev  Next

The Heller Hoard of Fairground Organs
By Matthew Caulfield

The news that Jim Wells has died, and Philip Jamison's mention
in yesterdays MMD 010521 of Jim Well's horde of fairground organs,
makes me wonder how many people there are left, besides Bill Black,
with first-hand knowledge of the fabulous find that has become known
as the "Heller Hoard"?  Philip wrote:

> Jim bought a large horde of fairground organs in Ohio from a
> neglected storage building with a badly rotted roof.  Inside were
> were a damp trove of Bruders, Ruths, Fratis, Wurlitzers, etc.  Many
> of those rotted organs are today restored and playing in various
> collections.

Mike Kitner, who predeceased Jim Wells by only a few months, wrote a
couple of articles on his part in literally unearthing those forgotten
and neglected treasures of mechanical music.  See parts one and two of
a five-part series on his restoration of a Bruder organ at  and

I'm assuming that Heller was Erwin Heller, the Gooding Amusements man.
But aside from that, and the fact that he maintained the Myrtle Beach
Ruth up until his death, Mr. Heller is only a name to me.  And the
spelling of his forename seems to be in doubt: Mike Kitner spells it
"Irwin" but I have photocopies of two ads placed in 1959 by Harry Beach,
in the amusement industry journal, The Billboard, trying unsuccessfully
to sell the Myrtle Beach Bruder, in which he says of the organ,
"I had it converted to a Wurlitzer by Mr. Erwin Heller, who does F.E.
Gooding's organ work."

Someone should flesh out the details of this piece of musical history
before it joins so much else in oblivion.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Tue 22 May 2001, 15:29:56 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Fairground, Heller, Hoard, Organs

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