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Dead medium: the Organetta, Organette, Aurephone, Cecilla, Organina Cabineto, Tournaphone, Cabinetto, Melodia, Musical Casket, Gately Automatic Organ, Tanzbar, Seraphone, and Celestina
From: billb@savvy.com (Bill Burns)
sej@aol.com(Stefan Jones)

Source(s): Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by David Q. Bowers Vestal Press Ltd 1997
ISBN: 0911572082

In Working Note 28.0 ("the Organetta") Bruce Sterling wrote:

"The bellows apparently blows air directly *through* the punched holes in the sheet music, and up through a tuned rack of harmonica reeds."

On almost all of the organette-type instruments the bellows *sucks* air through the punched holes and down through the reeds; a few did use pressure rather than vacuum, but these were the exception.

The Massachusetts Organ Company was the leader of a thriving mail-order business in the 1880's == Bowers' Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments calls them "a master of ballyhoo." All of the companies used the same sales techniques - if you became an "agent," you qualified for the lower price. Of course, every customer was considered an "agent." If you bought sufficient quantity, they'd even private-label them for you.

Bill Burns (billb@savvy.com)

From: SeJ@aol.com (Stefan Jones)
Source(s): eyewitness report I got to examine and listen to what is apparently a cheaper, later, table-top version of the Organetta. (Collection of Bill Burns, who I believe referred to it as an "organette.") It was outwardly a simple box, and accepted rolls of paper. The sound was a bit deeper and more resonant than a harmonica. The tunes were charming little ditties, "compressed" in range to fit in the limited number of notes available to the device.

Cool thing: the cuts in the roll paper are large and the encoding obvious, so repairing old rolls and making new rolls is very easy. So with a little work with a ruler and a xacto knife, and you could have the organette playing "Louie, Louie" or "Tom's Diner" or something.

For your files:

http://world.std.com/~pschmidt/smr/smrmain.htm

An organette collector's home page.

They apparently came in a bunch of models and formats, with 14-28 notes. He sells cranks, spools, and rolls. Some model names: Aurephone, Cecilla, Organina Cabineto, Tournaphone, Cabinetto, Melodia, Musical Casket, Gately Automatic Organ, Tanzbar, Seraphone, and Celestina.

+--------------------------------------------+ Stefan Jones ~ 1-650-506-1032 Testing & Integration, Oracle Video Server Personal email to: SeJ@aol.com http://www.io.com/~stefanj/www/ +--------------------------------------------+