Welcome to Le Beau Paon Victorien! I'm so glad you stopped by!

Here you will find a variety of things that might interest you: food, books, house decor, crafty things, random thoughts, dishes, gardening and more!

Spend some time with us and happy reading!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Show & Tell Friday: A Found Harmonium

The harmonium, also known as a pump organ, parlor organ or a reed organ, is an organ that generates it's sounds using free metal reeds. Smaller, cheaper and more portable than pipe organs, parlor organs were popular and widely used in small churches and in private homes throughout the 19th century. Reed organs are operated with either pressure or suction bellows. In North America and the U.K. a reed organ that uses pressure bellows is often called a harmonium, where as in Europe, all reed organs are called a harmonium, regardless of whether they used a pressure or suction bellows. Many different types and styles were made throughout the late 19th century until advances in technology made pianos more affordable in the 1900s, at which time the reed organ fell out of favor.

Our harmonium is beautifully decorated and in excellent shape. It even has a fairly ornate back, which was common for pump organs, especially if it's use was intended for a small church. The back of the pump organ typically faced the congregation, which was the reasoning for it to be elaborately decorated on the backside as well as the front. Pump organs were not solely for use in churches however, and many were ordered and purchased for use in a private home.

Our harmonium was made by the A.B. Chase Company which was located in Norwalk, OH. The company was started in 1875 by Capt. Alvin B. Chase. The factory was located in the old Norwalk Barrell Company buildings on Newton Street. After Alvin Chase's death in the late 1870s, the company was owned and operated by Calvin Whitney until 1909. A.B. Chase made both reed organs and pianos and won the grand prize at the 1893 World's Fair for their quality,scale, tone, action and pedal systems. I'm not sure why "New York" is also written on this pump organ; possibly they also manufactured them in New York as well as Ohio.

The pump pedals to operate the bellows still have their original carpet-work in place. We do not know the exact date our pump organ was made, but it does have markings related to the 1893 World's Fair, which was also known as the World's Columbian Exposition, which commemorated Christopher Columbus' 400th anniversary of his arrival in America. This World's Fair, which took place in Chicago, was where A.B. Chase Co.received it's grand prize for quality and workmanship. It is likely this model was manufactured the same year as the World's Fair, either before or after they received their award, because of the stamp. Typically there are serial numbers which can  give the exact date of manufacture. The serial numbers are often located inside the harmonium and we have not yet been brave enough to attempt to remove the back panel to do this.

It even still has the key that locks the cover which closes over the top of the organ keys!

We have since found some contemporary music books for parlor organs. This one was published in 1886.

This one has pages devoted to the care of a pump organ and also an explanation of the stops and how to use them!

This song book, "The Song Herald" was published in 1876, but the date written on the cover leaf shows that it was purchased or acquired by it's owner in 1891.

The owner of "The Song Herald" apparently was Elmer J. Walker. What beautiful penmanship! The most popular penmanship style of the 19th century was called "Spencerian". I learned calligraphy in an advanced art class I took in high school and later, self-taught myself  Spencerian. I am by no means able to do Spencerian in a professional quality, but I can do it well enough that I was able to address all my wedding invitations in Spencerian and it looked very beautiful.

We have been keeping our eyes open to find a suitable bench or stool for it, as it did not come with one. We acquired this gorgeous harmonium in 2008; it still plays beautifully and sounds really good although it might be slightly out of tune. I would guess that after 117 years it might need a tune-up, but all in all has held up extraordinarily well. A friend of Erik's was the generous giver of this pump organ; it had once belonged to his grandmother, who had gotten it from his great-grandmother and so forth, so it had been in his family for many years, but nobody was particularly interested in it. It had been sitting under an old quilt on the enclosed porch of the house which had formerly been his grandmother's, which was now a rental property. He knew of our interest in antiques and generously gave it to us, knowing that we would cherish it and care for it as it ought to be!

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to visit all the other blogs for Show and Tell Friday at Cindy's My Romantic Home!


vignette design said...

Your harmonium is gorgeous. I love the old sheet music too. Thanks for sharing. --Delores

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Beautiful! Free is good! :) Glad he gave it to someone who would take care of it properly. Thanks for sharing.

Holly said...

What a beautiful piece...you are so lucky to have it!

Lori Kees said...

What a generous gift. You are lucky to have a friend like that. Enjoyed your background music.

I almost chose this blog background for my blog at one point. Just changed for Valentines.'' Lori