Barrel Piano by Henri Basile of Brussels
by Björn Isebaert (030423 MMDigest)

henri_Basile.jpg (81 kb)
Fabrique de Piano-orchestrions automatiques
La maison BASILE a créé un nouveau modèle de piano
cordes croisés grand format 88 notes dernier système
Orchestrions et pianos électriques de tous genres et de toutes marques
Factory of automatic piano-orchestrions
The BASILE house has created a new model of
overstrung 88-note grand piano, final system
Orchestrions and electric pianos of all kinds and brands

[A barrel piano by Henri Basile of Brussels, fitted with a wooden cylinder pinned by noteur Dominique de Mascio, was described in 030422 MMDigest.]

I looked up the names Basile and De Mascio in the book

- 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
According to his information, Henri Basile was active during the period 1924-1940.  In 1924 his workshop was located at the Rue de la Poste 230 in Brussels.  An advertisement of the same year mentions that the Maison Basile created a new type of piano, with crossed strings, large size, 88 notes; they also sold orchestrions and 'electrical pianos'.

In 1925, Basile moved to the Rue de Brabant 116 in Brussels, so the barrel piano must date from before that time. In the same year, he took a patent on an electric drive for Italian and French barrel pianos.

Several members of the De Mascio family were active in the mechanical music business, but I couldn't find the name Dominique, nor the address 20 Rue des plantes. Seeing, however, that both Antoine and Ernest De Mascio were active in the business of automatic pianos (ca.1913-1926), and they both lived in the region of Brussels, I think it's possible that Dominique was perhaps a brother of them.

The advert of Henri Basile, pictured above, is taken from the book by Stephane Godfroid with permission from the author.

Hope this helps !

Best wishes,

Björn Isebaert
Zottegem, Belgium
23 Apr 2003 13:17:57 +0200

23 April 2003