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Dead medium: The Organetta
From: (Paul Di Filippo)
Source(s): Source: Peterson's Magazine, May 1883, page 435. Advertisements.


"A Marvelous Musical Instrument THAT PLAYS ANY TUNE.

"The Organette has gained such a world-wide reputation, that a lengthy description of it is not necessary. It will be sufficient to say that it is a PERFECT ORGAN that plays *mechanically* all the latest popular music, songs, dances, waltzes, jigs, etc. etc., as well as the best sacred airs. It consists of three strong bellows and a set of reeds with EXPRESSION box and SWELL. A strip of perforated paper represents the tune, and it is only necessary to place the paper tune in the instrument, as shown in the picture, and turn the handle, which both operates the bellows and propels the paper tune.

"The perforations in the paper allow the right reeds to sound and a perfect tune is the result, *perfect in time, execution, and effect,* without the least knowledge of music being required of the performer; even a little child can operate it as is shown in the picture, a little girl is playing a waltz, and her little friends are dancing; they are better pleased than if Strauss himself were playing for them, and older people enjoy it equally as well. It is also tuned in the key best suited for the human voice to sing by.

"The Organetta is perfectly represented by the picture. It is made of *solid black walnut,* decorated in gilt, and is both handsome and ornamental. The price of similar instruments has hitherto been $8, and the demand has been constantly increased until now there are over 75,000 in use. We are encouraged to place the Organetta on the market at this greatly reduced price, believing that the sales will warrant the reduction. The Organetta though similar in construction is an *improvement* upon our well-known Organette, which sells for $8 and $10. It contains the same number of reeds and plays the same tunes. Our offer is this: on receipt of $8 we will send the Organetta by express to any address, and include FREE $4.25 worth of music, or on receipt of $6 we will send with in $2 worth of music FREE, or for $4 we will send it with a small selection of music FREE. The price includes boxing and packing. *These are agent's prices,* and we will appoint the first purchaser from any town our agent, if he so desires. Address, THE MASSACHUSETTS ORGAN CO., 57 Washington St., Boston, Mass."

(((bruces remarks: The crude half-page woodcut of waltzing 1880s children has a pronounced Edward Gorey atmosphere. The Organetta itself stands on four sturdy mass-produced legs and appears to be about two feet long, a foot wide and a few inches high. It resembles a small wooden trouser press. A hand-turned crank at the rear of the device entrains a long foolscap sheet of perforated music, drawing it entirely through the body of the Organetta, while a locomotive-like connecting-rod off the crank's driving wheel puffs a hinged bellows up and down at the instrument's base. The bellows apparently blows air directly *through* the punched holes in the sheet music, and up through a tuned rack of harmonica reeds. The "expression box" and "swell" seem to be two bladderlike boxes on the top of the Organetta. Pressing on them may have affected the quality of the sound.)))

Paul Di Filippo (