French Cylinder Organ
in the collection of
Thomas County Museum of History
Thomasville, Georgia 31792, USA
by Melissa Sanford - Thomas County Historical Society, 14 Dec 2007

Photographs

front3a.jpg (41 kb)
Fig. 1. Front view with panels removed.  The cabinet is
52" high, 36" wide, 24" deep (132 x 91 x 61 cm).

The Thomas County Historical Society and Museum of History in Thomasville, Georgia has in the collections a cylinder organ of circa 1855.  The organ was brought to Thomas County after the family who owned it moved from a plantation near Lake Miccosukee, Florida, to Thomas County, Georgia.  We understand that it was built with the intention of being an instrument for the home.

The organ is indicative of the kind of wealth that the cotton plantations in our area could produce and it has a local history, so we are quite interested in learning more about it and would love to have it in playable condition.

Our cylinder organ is missing the handle and several pipes.  We have not taken it all apart, but the bellows are still in the bottom of the cabinet.  It seems to be remarkably intact.

It has percussion.  You can easily see the tambourine and saucer bells played with two separate hammers.  We can operate the keys for the percussion and that usually gets quite a reaction from the school children who visit us.

With the organ are four pinned cylinders in two original boxes.  There is writing in what appears to be India ink: "Cylindre No. 1" etc.  Number 4 has some intriguing marks which appear to be sharps, flats and letter names of notes all along the length of the barrel in a line.  I could not find any names on the surface.

The pinned cylinders are 27-1/4" long and about 6" in diameter (it's hard to be precise when measuring over the pins).  There are 33 wooden keys which operate the pipes plus 2 metal keys which operate the percussion.

Two large L-shaped pipes of wood are in the rear of the case, 17 metal pipes in the back row (all stoppered); 20 metal pipes in the next row (8 of these are open); 7 stoppered, 14 open, 1 stoppered on the next row.  In the front are 10 trumpets (but one is missing, there should be a total of 11), paired with open pipes (3 of these are missing).

A list of songs, framed and attached to the inside of the top, indicate that there were 2-3 selections of dance music per cylinder.  As the organ was sold in France, the list is in French.

A label is affixed to the back of the organ.  I have not found any reference to the firm on-line.

We consider the cylinder organ to be an important piece and important to the interpretation of the antebellum plantation era in Thomas County, Georgia.  We would really appreciate any information about the instrument, its maker and sources for repairs or replacement parts.

Thank you!

Melissa Sanford, Thomas County Historical Society
14 December 2007

Photographs


18 December 2007