54 Key Band Organ (perhaps Bruder or Marenghi)
Manufacture date: Circa 1895-1905
The exact origins of this machine remain a mystery but the experts at Virginia City have done their best to uncover its secrets.
They believe that this machine façade made circa 1915- 1920, either made by Molinari of Brooklyn NY (per Charles Bovey's notes) or by Gebriider Bruder, Waldkirch, Germany. It was obtained from the B.A.B. Organ Co., it is featured on the c. 1964 record, (as a Marenghi) but has been out of order since 1972 because the special cardboard roll wore out.
The beautiful hand-carved facade of this organ was never painted, probably because it was waiting to be purchased and painted to the specification of the owner.
The organ is perhaps of German origin; it appears to have originated as a barrel organ with an open front, but it has been fitted with a keyless frame for playing cardboard music, and a somewhat later carved façade.
This type of remodeling was standard practice in the 1915-1930 era to provide early barrel-operated organs with a much larger musical repertoire; when done in the factory, it enhances the value today. Hundreds of organs of this size were made by various German firms, and at least several dozen exist worldwide, This example plays 54-keyless cardboard music of unknown scale; preservation of remaining fragments of music is exceptionally important, at least until copies are made or if it is determined that it plays the music of a standardized German scale.
The music of this organ is an outstanding example of the "German fairground organ sound," very different from the other organs in the collection, playing music in an unusually bright, powerful, and cheery style.