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MMD > Archives > October 2005 > 2005.10.29 > 01Prev  Next

B.A.B. Organ Company History & Master Rolls
By Matthew Caulfield

I have written, for the January issue of the COAA's "Carousel Organ," 
a history of the B.A.B. Organ Company, bringing together information
supplied by Ed Radonic, grandson of Dominick Brugnolotti, Andrea
Devlin, granddaughter of Andrew Antoniazzi, Art Reblitz, Tom Wurdeman,
and others over the years.

The 05.10.25 MMD raised the subject of the B.A.B. band organ rolls and
their masters, part of which are now in Virginia City, Montana, under
state ownership, the other masters being in Rumney, New Hampshire,
under ownership of Ed Openshaw.

When writing my article and reading George Karpel's description of the
masters in the 05.10.27 MMD, I realized something about B.A.B. masters
that I had never realized before.  Being so familiar with Wurlitzer
masters -- punched using a mallet on heavy cardboard stock and being
made on a 3-to-1 scale (i.e. each note hole in the master is three
times the length that hole will be in the rolls it produces) -- I had
been assuming that B.A.B. masters were of the same construction.

But George's description, plus reading recently that B.A.B. rolls
were made on an Acme perforator, plus the fact that all ten masters for
a given roll could be, and were, stored in one cloth bag, shows that
B.A.B. masters must be rather like the finished rolls.

The question was definitely settled when Ron Bopp sent me a copy of
his article on Ozzie Wurdeman which appeared in issue #5 (Oct. 2000)
of the "Carousel Organ," in which there is a photograph of some B.A.B.
masters in storage at Virginia City.  They are indeed only a fraction
of the diameter of Wurlitzer masters.  A single Wurlitzer master could
range from 6 inches to 12 inches in diameter, whereas a single B.A.B.
master is much smaller.  Some appear in the Bopp picture to be rolled
on 2-inch cores, making them about 4 inches in diameter; others appear
to be tightly wound, without cores, and of comparatively smaller

What difference does this make?  For one thing, the size and weight of
Wurlitzer masters presented a huge storage problem and was probably the
reason that most were not kept past the time when the popularity of the
tunes on them peaked.  B.A.B. masters, on the other hand, seem to have
been preserved in toto.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Sat 29 Oct 2005, 19:53:03 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  B.A.B, Company, History, Master, Organ, Rolls

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