R. Stather (1870-1908)

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Robert Stather of London was registered as a reed organ maker in 243 Caledonian Road, London (1878), 202 Liverpool Road (1882) and 187 Seven Sisters' Road, Finsbury Park (in 1886). He established his business in 1870 as a harmonium and piano maker and trade supplier. By 1914 he was listed as an organ repairman and piano maker in London N4, in 1921 as a reed organ make and repairer at 181 [7?] Seven Sisters Road, and in 1932 at age 90 still as a piano dealer.

It is quite possible that Stather was mostly a dealer, at least later on, in fact we have evidence of both Estey, D.W. Karn and Hillier reed organs with the Stather shop label. Bill Kibby notes that pianos with the Stather label were probably bought in.

There are a few harmoniums carrying the Stather label, but they were believed to be of French manufacture, probably by Alexandre. However this one, for sale on e-Bay Feb'2010, definately looks English. It is identical to the earlier Stevens instruments, so quite possibly was made by Stevens.


Another, slightly larger, was sold at auction in Mar'2011 and had previously been in a Methodist church in Wicken.


1M, e-Bay *9816

However this next one does have the Stather manufacturer's label and pre-dates the ones with the ``royal letters patent'' designation.

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Stops are Sourdine, Cor Anglais, Expression, Diapason, Tremolo. Keys are ivory.

The London Gazette of 27/11/1908 carried the following notice. Notice is hereby given that the partnership hertofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Alfred James Stather and Richard John Guy, carrying on business as Manufacturers and Importers of Pianos, Organs and Harmoniums at 187 Seven Sisters-road, Finsbury Park, London N., under the style or firm of ``ROBERT STATHER'' has been dissolved by mutual consent as and from the 24th day of November 1908. All debts due to and owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said Alfred James Stather. Dated 24th day of November, 1908. Alf. J. Stather, Richard J. Guy.

Maybe this is when all manufacturing ceased, but Stathers were however still advertising second hand instruments in 1910.

Robert Stather (b.1842-d.1933) was the son of James Stather (b.1806) and Elizabeth Blanshard (b.1811) both of North Cave, near Hull where Robert was born. They had 4 other children. Robert moved to London and married Emma Jane Long (b.5/2/1850-d.1954) from St.Pancras in 1874. They had 9 children including Ethel Ruth and Robert W. Stather. Emma lived to the age of 104.

The London Gazette of 21/4/1933 contains the following notice: ALFRED JAMES STATHER, Deceased. Pursuant to the Trustee Act, 1925. All persons having claims aginst the estate of Alfred James Stather, late of ``Fairview'', Tolmers Road, Cuffley, Herts. and of 187 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, London N4, musical instrument manufacturer, who died on 10th day of February 1933, and whose will was proved on the 4th day of April 1933, in the principal probate registry by Mrs. Elisa Ellen Stather and Herbert Holmes Stather (executors), are required to send written particulars thereof to the under-signed by the 3rd day of July next, after which date the executors will distribute the deceased's estate, having regard only to valid claims then notified. The executors will continue to carry on the business carried on by the deceased at 187 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park N4, under the trading name of ``Robert Stather''. Dated this 21st day of April, 1933. H.B. Wedlake Saint and Co., Cloudesley House. Finsbury Park N4, solicitors for the executors.

So this was A.J. Stather, we need to find out more about the family and business...

Olive Ethel Ashley (b.16/9/1906-d.26/5/2016) at the age of 109 was Dunstable's oldest resident. Olive was born in in Tottenham, N.London. She was the oldest of seven surviving children of Ethel Ruth Stather (b.4/12/1884-d.1967) born in Islington and William Thomas Ashley (b.1874-d.1957). William and Ethel had married in 1903 and had 9 children. Music played a big part in the family. Ethel's father Robert Stather was the organ and piano manufacturer. Two pianos remain within the family and an organ is said to be in Milton Keynes museum. The most important part of Olive's life was her faith. She cared for her mother for ten years after her father died. In 1979, she moved from London to Dunstable where she joined the Salvation Army, who welcomed her warmly.


The following picture shows a small reed organ by Stather. According to Ian Thompson this would be the same specification as the Oetzmann reed organ, see Chapter 26.2.


Another one is shown in these photos which was for sale on e-Bay May 2005 in Dorset. This is bigger and has a nicely made oak case.

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It probably has the same specification as the one noted below.

ROS DB entry 1322

ROS DB entry 1322 is a small parlour organ with FFF-f'' range and stops: Bass Coupler, Diapason 8', Dulciana 8', Vox Humana, Melodia 8', Oboe 8' and Treble Coupler. It is said to have been built in 1890.

e-Bay *7141 1M/4:5

A small reed organ by Stather appeared for sale in Nov'2006, in Lincolnshire. This looks very nice and the seller sent me the specification: Bass Coupler, Sub Bass 16', Bourdon 16', Gamba 8', Principal 4', Viola 4', Diapason Bass 8', Vox Humana, Dulciana 8', Diapason Treble 8', Voix Celeste 8', Oboe 8', Flute 4', Clarionet 16', and Treble Coupler. It needed a few repairs, but I hope it went to a good home.

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e-Bay *2640

Advertised in Mar'2012, looks more like a conventional American organ with 10 stops. Others are known with similar fretwork.

Elliott Collection

There is said to be a Stather instrument with 30 stops and a ``superb sound'' in the collection of Mike and Joan Elliott.

Private Collection 1M/1:1

Ivan Furlanis reports an instrument in a private collection, see https://sites.google.com/site/ivanfurlanis/home/harmonium/stather-reed-organs. It carries the Finsbury, N.London address.

The top list is Bass Coupler, Diapason Bass 8', Dulcet Bass 8', Vox Humana, Dulcet Treble 8', Diapason Treble 8', Treble Coupler

1M eBay *7908

This instrument appeared for sale in March 2017 from a knowledgable vendor in Holbeach, near Spalding. Lillian had bought the instrument from a Lincolnshire church c.1995 and believed it to have been made c.1905. There is even a video which indicates a good sound and potential for restoration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDOp_Y3YN4I.

The specification is Forte Bass, Sub Bass 16', Dulcet 8', Principle 4', Diapason 8', Bass Coupler, Vox Humana, Treble Coupler, Echo 8', Melodia 8', Forte 4', Cello 16', Dulciana 8', Celeste 8', Forte Treble.

The nice arts and crafts style English oak case has a music compartment and shelves at each side of the keyboard (presumably for candles).



We have photographs of a number of other reed organs carrying the Stather label. These include a 3 octave baby instrument (*a254), a 1M instrument with mirror top and 10 stops (*w5442), and an oak cased 1M with 16 stops (*e7908) noting Piano & Organ Maker and with specification Forte Bass, Sub Bass 16', Dulcet 8', Principle 4', Diapason 8', Bass Coupler, Vox Humana, Treble Coupler, Echo 8', Melodia 8', Forte 4', Cello 16', Dulciana 8', Celeste 8', and Forte Treble.

More pictures.

Rob Allan