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MMD > Archives > February 2002 > 2002.02.10 > 02Prev  Next

Wilcox & White Player Organ
By Matthew Caulfield

The "Encyclopedia Of Automatic Musical Instruments," by Q. David
Bowers, c1972, says on p. 781:

  "Wilcox & White Organ Company, Meriden, Connecticut.  Founded in
   1876 by Horace C. Wilcox, a Meriden silver-plate manufacturer, and
   Henry Kirk White, an organ builder from Brattleboro, Vermont, the
   firm manufactured many varieties of paper roll organettes and player
   reed organs. ... The Wilcox & White Organ Co., which changed its
   name to the Wilcox & White Co. in 1897, worked closely with the
   Aeolian Co. in several areas.  Wilcox & White introduced the
   Symphony player reed organ in 1888.  Many different case styles of
   the Symphony were made from 1888 through the first decade of the
   20th century.  Symphony organs have a vacuum action which sounds the
   reeds by means of a valve and pouch assembly. ... The Symphony was
   a distant second to the Aeolian organs in terms of its share of the
   American market for keyboard-style player reed organs.  An estimated
   several thousand Symphony instruments were produced."

Bowers credits the above information to the late Alan R. Pier, writing
in the Christmas, 1969, issue of the MBSI News Bulletin, and to the
Aeolian Co.  (Back issues of the MBSI New Bulletin are available from
Ted & Irene Leverett for $1.50 each; phone 704-786-3543).  There are
three pictures of Symphonies, plus a photograph of a W&W advertisement
on the same page of Bowers, plus additional photos of the richly-carved
Symphony in the home of Marion Roehl and the late Harvey Roehl.
Whether Marion still has that organ I don't know.

What is interesting to me about the organ described by Donna Sharp is
that the nameplate seems to be in French: Premiere / W&W / Qualite /
Meriden, Conn., USA.  "Premiere Qualite" seems an odd wording for an
American product.  Was that wording chosen for its snob appeal or was
the organ meant to be sold in a Quebec or other francophone market?

Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, N.Y.)  -- try pronouncing that!

(Message sent Sun 10 Feb 2002, 17:11:58 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Organ, Player, White, Wilcox

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