FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND MISCELLANEOUS
First, read the discussion on value on the ROS website:
You can also watch the sales on eBay to get an idea of real values.
Do not be misled by high asking prices, as some people have
over-optimistic ideas of what the instruments are worth; just pay
attention to completed sales in which the final bid is higher than
the starting bid. The following is a quote from a report on a July
"I believe the highest priced instrument, a very nice
top sold for about $300. One man who owns a music store in
Appleton purchased five instruments for $175 each. I had the
bid on a very nice Model K Bilhorn for $150. (if this would
auctioned off later in the day I'm sure I could have been the
bid at $100! Larry purchased a very nice restored chapel
$100.00! There were about 15 - 20 organs left with no bids.
garage contained three or four two manual/pedal Esteys, most
pieces. I left the auction early afternoon; don't know if
From April through August 2004, reed organs selling on eBay averaged
$236. Professional restorers sell them at considerably higher
prices, reflecting the extensive work required to bring the
instruments to top condition. I don't give opinions on the value of
instruments. If you need an appraisal, tell me where you are located
and I'll send one or more names of appraisers.
Check with your insurance agent to see if the instrument is covered
by your homeowner's policy. Most reed organs are probably not worth
paying an additional premium to insure -- see the comments above on
value and appraisers.
These days eBay is often the marketplace of choice -- go to www.ebay.com
and search for "pump organ", "reed organ" or
"harmonium". Another good site is the "American Reed
Organ and Harmonium Marketplace, www.reedorgans.co.uk. (I have no
connection with that site). You can also advertise in the ROS
Quarterly; contact the Advertising Manager Carl Shannon, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otherwise the classified section of your local newspaper would be a
If you are not sure of the name of the maker or the model of
your instrument, look at the Database on the ROS
website to see if you find a similar one. There are literally
thousands of different case styles, and only a few hundred are
shown. The database on this website contains thousands of pictures
as well as historical information on the manufacturers. Click on
"Database" and follow the instructions.
Lists of dated serial numbers for some manufacturers are
available in "Gellerman's International Reed Organ Atlas".
Copies may also be available at your local library or through an
inter-library loan, or you could buy a copy of the book. Click on
"Atlas" for details. The serial numbers are usually found
inside the back of the organ, locations vary. Sometimes workers
wrote dates inside the instruments -- the back part of the keys at
the bass end was a favorite location. Some manufacturers did not use
serial numbers and others used separate serial numbers for the
action and the case. If you are recording a serial number please
specify where on the instrument you found it.
If you want to do it yourself, my book "The American Reed
Organ and the Harmonium" has extensive instructions on repairs,
Click on "Book" for a detailed description. Advice is also
available on the ROS website, www.reedsoc.org and at
www.reedorganman.com/maude/intro.htm. A CD is available at that site
with detailed instructions on repair.
The archives of the Mechanical Music Digest contain a wealth of
information on repairing musical instruments. It is oriented toward
mechanically-played instruments, but much of it is applicable to
reed organs. Their website is www.mmd.foxtail.com. If you need help
there are a number of professional repairmen. Tell me where you are
located and I will put you in contact with one or more nearby.
Reed organs hold their pitch very well and thus do not require
frequent tuning as pianos do. Frequent use over many years may
cause metal fatique of some reeds causing their pitch to vary, and
the accumulation of dirt on the reeds will also cause them to go off
tune. If the pitch of some notes has gone off, cleaning the reeds
may bring them back. If not, they can be retuned, but it is not a
simple task. Detailed instructions will be found in my book,
"The American Reed Organ and the Harmonium".
Materials for restoration such as bellows
cloth are available from a number of sources such as Player
Piano Co. To obtain a free catalog, call them at 316-263-3241;
or write them at: PPCo, 704 East Douglas, Wichita, KS, 67202.
Another good source is http://www.stevespianoservice.com/reedpart.htm.
As most reed organs are 100 or more years old replacement
parts are usually not available and have to be fabricated. Used
stop faces and some other parts are available from Nelson Pease,
Harris Organs in Whittier, CA, phone 562-693-4534 can reproduce
any style of print and engrave new stop faces.
Replacement reeds are available from a number of sources, for
example Paul Toelken,
, PO Box 25017, Prescott Valley, AZ 86312-5017.
Decals can be obtained from
from Player Piano Co., or from Decals Unlimited, phone
651-429-4465. You can also make them yourself by using
a computer printer -- see
-- or by using gold transfer letters available from an art or
hobby supply store. You can learn more about decals at http://mmd.foxtail.com/Archives/KWIC/D/decals.html
Yes, reed organs can be electrified. Before you electrify
consider that reed organs have survived for 100 years or more with
foot pedals and therefore are very rugged. Pumping the organ is very
natural and is easily learned. Also keep in mind that they all make
a certain amount of noise when electrified, which can be annoying.
My recommendation is to stay with the foot pedals, forget
electrifying, your life will be much simpler. However if you insist,
be sure to get a unit made specifically for reed organs and NOT for
player pianos. The latter are too strong and can easily damage the
reeds. If you leave the bellows intact and connect the suction unit
through a check valve, you can use either the foot pedals or the
electric pump. Player Piano Co. part no. 387 is ideal for that job.
Proper reed organ suction units can be obtained as follows:
Silent Suction unit is sold by Arndt Organ Supply Company, PO
Box 129, 1018 Lorenz Drive, Ankeny IA 50021-3945, phone
Organ Suction Box Kit is available from Player Piano Co. See
Martins, "New Life for a Seybold 2MP Reed-Pipe Organ"
in the ROS Quarterly, Fall 2004 for an article on electrifying a
large reed organ.
Copies are available from the ROS Publications Secretary, Paul
Carey, Carey Organ Company, 108 Jefferson Street, Troy, New York
ORGANS, ELECTRONIC ORGANS
This website deals only with reed organs, harmoniums and similar
keyboard reed instruments, but not pianos, pipe organs, electronic
organs or accordions. We have no information on those instruments.
For piano information see the University of Maryland Performing Arts
Library, www.lib.umd.edu/PAL/HowePiano.html, and Pierce's Piano
Atlas, www.pianoatlas.com. Also see http://www.stevespianoservice.com/piano.htm
Information on player pianos and other mechanical musical
instruments will be found in the Mechanical Music Digest,
www.mmd.foxtail.com. For pipe or electronic organ information
I have written two books which are full of useful information:
"The American Reed Organ and the Harmonium" and "Gellerman's
International Reed Organ Atlas". Copies may be available at
your local library or through an inter-library loan. Or you could
buy a copy -- see the descriptions on this web site. Buy from the
author. Also refer to the University of Maryland Performing Arts
Library, www.lib.umd.edu/PAL/organ.html. Other references are listed
on the ROS website.
Original 19th century music books are frequently offered on eBay
-- search for "pump organ music" or "reed organ
music". My book, "Playing the American Reed Organ" is
a reprint of the best parts of several of those old books and
includes sheet music especially arranged for the reed organ. The
second edition has recently been published -- contact Nelson Pease,
email@example.com to purchase.
The Reed Organ Society maintains a website http://www.reedsoc.org/
with a database of pictures and information on many instruments. It
also publishes a quarterly bulletin with interesting articles on all
aspects of reed organs, it sponsors regular meetings where
enthusiasts can hear great music, attend presentations and
workshops, and socialize with fellow members.
Information on joining will be found on the website. The most recent
meetings were the "Esteyfest 2005", held in Brattleboro,
Vermont from October 13th through 17th, 2005 and on May 20-21, 2006
a meeting was held at the Opera House in Fayette, Ohio with various
events of interest, culminating in a concert by Michael Hendron.
The next meeting will be the 25th anniversary of the Society to be
held on Oct. 12-14, 2007 at the Conklin Museum in Hanover, Michigan.
Further information is available from the chairman, Terry Jankowski:
THE REED ORGAN MAILING LIST
Another excellent source of information and related discussions
on reed organs will be found on the free RO mailing list.
To subscribe, send an email to ro@cdmnet and include the word
"subscribe" in the subject line.