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Barrel organ

Barrel organ

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1795 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pistor, John (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Solid mahogany case, with satinwood stringing, gilded dummy pipes

  • Museum number:

    W.62-1929

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

John Pistor was a leading London-based builder of keyboard- and barrel organs from about 1780 until 1800. The barrel organ took its name from the wooden cylinders (or 'barrels'), studded with pins, which the player slotted inside the organ and turned with a crank-handle. The rotating barrel and its pins activated bellows and a series of sophisticated mechanisms which controlled the supply of air to each organ pipe inside the case, playing a sequence of different tunes. The pipes on the outside are purely decorative. This elegant instrument would have been suitable for the drawing rooms and parlours of quite prosperous houses, and provided entertainment with popular tunes.

Physical description

'Mahogany case with satinwood stringing, surmounted by an inlaid pediment and a gilt vase. The front has three compartments of gilt, dummy pipes.' - Raymond Russell: Victoria and Albert Museum: Catalogue of Musical Instruments Volume I Keyboard Instruments (London, 1969) , pp. 69 - 70.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

ca. 1795 (made)

Artist/maker

Pistor, John (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Solid mahogany case, with satinwood stringing, gilded dummy pipes

Marks and inscriptions

John Pistor Fecit / 21 Swan Street, Minories, London.
John Pistor Made [this] / 21 Swan Street ...
Painted on Nameboard

Dimensions

Height: 162.5 cm, Depth: 54.5 cm, Width: 61 cm

Descriptive line

English barrel organ, solid mahogany case with satinwood stringing, John Pistor, about 1795.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Raymond Russell: Victoria and Albert Museum: Catalogue of Musical Instruments Volume I Keyboard Instruments (London, 1969) , pp. 69 - 70.

Materials

Mahogany; Satinwood; Gold leaf

Techniques

Gilding; Stringing

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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