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MMD > Archives > March 2008 > 2008.03.30 > 04Prev  Next

"Aeriola" Push-up Player in Australia
By Julian Dyer

Easy to answer what the Aeriola was -- it was simply the Pianola
rebadged for sale in non-Aeolian dealers' shops!  There's an
interesting history behind this, though.

The original Aeriol player was invented by Theodore P Brown, and
was the first piano-player sold by Aeolian, around 1896.  (They
were retailers at that point, not manufacturers.)

The Aeriol system was not quite the familiar all-pneumatic design,
but used some electrical components in the roll-reading mechanism
(I don't know the details).  According to John McTammany the system
was introduced as an internal player in or around 1891 and offered
on the market at that point but it failed commercially.  McTammany
gives it credit as being the very first player-piano commercially
offered.  I wonder if any survive?

Aeolian rapidly switched from the Aeriol to the Pianola, invented
and initially manufactured by the Votey Organ Company, who were
bought-out by Aeolian almost immediately.  (I've heard it said that
only the first 200 or so Pianolas were made by Votey.)

However, Aeolian must have liked or even retained the rights to
the Aeriol name, because very early on they introduced a Pianola
variant called the Aeriola.  As far as I know the only difference
between the two was the decal.  The rolls for it were similarly
rebadged, being labelled "Aeriol Piano", while the Pianola ones
were simply labelled "Piano", but the one word on the label is the
only difference.  Any such instrument will clearly play any standard
65-note roll.

Aeolian in the UK were still marketing Aeriola pushups towards
1910 when the design had changed to the flat-top models that used
a normal 65-note internal player stack mounted in a separate case:
the Model K and L Pianolas.  All of these instruments would have
been made in America, presumably at the Garwood, New Jersey, factory.
The general practice of offering otherwise-identical rolls with
"house" and "generic" labels continued to the end of production.

Julian Dyer

(Message sent Sun 30 Mar 2008, 23:43:35 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aeriola, Australia, Player, Push-up

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