Barrel pianos by Charles Romano & Theodorus Bruylandt
by Björn Isebaert (010810 MMDigest)
data and photos from books by Stéphane Godfroid

bruylandt_barrel1.jpg (37 kb)

I just took a look at John A. Tuttle's pictures of the Romano coin-operated barrel orchestrion at the MMD Pictures gallery ["Coin-Operated Barrel Orchestrion by Romano"].  I think in Belgium we'd rather call the instrument a "tingel-tangel"!

Since I couldn't find the names Romano or Bruylandt in Bowers' Encyclopedia, I thought it might be useful to provide some more information.  Please note: most of this information comes from two books by Stéphane Godfroid that are now out of print:

- S.Godfroid, Muziekinstrumentenbouw te Geraardsbergen van de 15de eeuw tot heden
[Music instrument building at Geraardsbergen from the 15th century to present day],
Geraardsbergen, 1986, copyright by Stéphane Godfroid & Hugo De Ceuleneer, published by
Stedelijke Culturele Raad Geraardsbergen [Municipal Cultural Council of Geraardsbergen],
Geraardsbergen, Belgium

- S.Godfroid, Bouwers van automatofonen in Vlaanderen.  Proeve van catalogus
(In: Volksmuziekatelier, Jaarboek V, Provinciaal Trefcentrum Baljuwhuis)
[Builders of automatic musical instruments in Flanders; preliminary catalogue,
(In: Folk music workshop, Yearbook V, Provincial Meeting Centre "Baljuwhuis")],
Galmaarden, 1987, copyright by Stéphane Godfroid, published by Provinciaal Trefcentrum
"Baljuwhuis" Galmaarden [Provincial Meeting Centre "Baljuwhuis"], Galmaarden, Belgium

First something about Romano.  We are dealing here with Charles Romano, whose business was quite successful between 1901 and 1914.  The man worked in the region of Brussels as a builder of a variety of mechanical music instruments, but only some mechanical pianos and barrel orchestrions have been preserved.

Note: this Charles Romano is not to be confused with Salvator Romano, who is the Romano in "Romano-Belotti", a more well-known builder of mechanical music instruments.

The barrel pianos of Charles Romano aren't very rare, but his orchestrions are not to be found that often.

About Theodorus Bruylandt, we know more.  He lived from 1874 till 1937 at Geraardsbergen (Grammont).  He married a member of the Hooghuys family in 1897 and first worked as a furniture manufacturer.  Theodorus Bruylandt worked for some time at the Hooghuys factory, and the Bruylandt family even lived for some time at the house of Hooghuys.

Until recently this was doubtful, but in the Hooghuys organ of Bill Nunn (LH620) there is a signature by Th. Bruylandt (well, it is not really a signature, rather a reaction against the First World War).  It says (in Dutch, translated):

  18th August 1914 war of Europe
  Th. Bruylandt Grammont
  Belgium France England against Prussia
  The German barbarians will be beaten
  Hurray for Belgium

In 1920, Bruylandt again works as furniture manufacturer, but in 1930, he works at the Adamstraat 30, where he works as an organ builder.  But as for today, no traces of mechanical instruments built by Bruylandt himself have been found.  Probably, he only sold mechanical music instruments from other manufacturers such as Romano.  (In a private collection in Geraarsbergen there is also a mechanical piano built by Charles Romano with a barrel by Bruylandt,)  Bruylandt also arranged barrels, although also other arrangers as Edgard Hooghuys and Joseph Tullio worked for him.

Now, for the name on the barrel of Mr. Anzano's "tingel-tangel":  I guess it reads "Th. Bruylandt en zonen" (probably not Bruylandi), which means "Th. Bruylandt and sons".

It happens that Theodorus also had two sons, Emile (1902-1940) and Edouard Joseph (1906-1979), who worked with their father until his death in 1937.  After Theorodus' death, Emile continued to work in the mechanical music industry (although neither he or Edouard Joseph probably ever built any instruments themselves), but Edouard Joseph went into other businesses.  A card of Emile Bruylandt from 1938 tells us that he also manufactured 'powdering machines' used for cigars and cigarillos.  Emile started producing these because the mechanical music industry in Belgium was having hard times.  (The sons of Emile also worked in the music industry for some time, although one of them started a shop for picture and painting frames.)

So, I hope this was a bit useful !

Musically yours,

Björn Isebaert
Hofstraat 56, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Date: 10 Aug 2001 09:41:47 +0200

bruylandt_Em_card1.jpg (32 kb)

More photo images:

Theodorus Bruylandt (1874-1937) (25 kb)
Emile Bruylandt (1902-1940) (14 kb)
Edouard Joseph Bruylandt (1906-1979) (35 kb)

13 August 2001, 10 September 2001, 12 September 2001