There is evidently a strong connection between British and Canadian reed organ builders. In this chapter I will begin to explore the relationships. This chapter is a collaboration between myself and Rodney Jantzi, who is building the full history of Canadian companies together with a collection of their instruments. Please contribute if you have more information.

There is a list of manufacturers here: This was compiled by Rod Fudge from the Canadian Encyclopedia, based on original work by Tim Classey before 1970. Rodney has updated this list which is what we are now using.

A total of 57 manufacturers have been identified. The ones considered in further detail below because they are known to have strong British connections are marked with ``*''.

Acadia Organ Co., Bridgetown, NS, fl.1878-82
C.W. & F.M. Andrus (Andrews?), Picton, Ontario, fl.1857
Andrus Bros, London, Ontaroi, c.1859-74
Annapolis Organs, Annapolis, NS, fl.1880
John Bagnall & Co., Victoria, BC, 1863-85 (harmoniums by 1882)
* Bell Organ and Piano Co. (name changes), Guelph, Ontario, 1864-1928
Daniel Bell Organ Co., Toronto, 1881-6
Berlin Organ Co., Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario, fl.1880
G. Blatchford Organ Co., Galt, Ontario, fl.1895; Elora, Ontario, fl.1896
Abner Brown, Montreal, fl.1848-74
Canada Organ Co., London, Ontario, c.1865-?
Canada Organ Co., Toronto, 1875
Chute, Hall & Co., Yarmouth, NS, 1883-94
* Clarabella Organ Co., Toronto, Ontario, c.1898-1900
Compensating Pipe Organ Co., Toronto, fl.1900-10
Cornwall, Huntingdon, Quebec, before 1889-95 (see Pratte)
Cowley (or Conley?) Church Organ Co., Madoc, Ontario, fl.1890
Dales & Dalton, Newmarket, Ontario, fl.1870
R.H. Dalton, Toronto, 1869-82?
Darley and Robinson (see Dominion Organ and Piano Co.)
* W. Doherty & Co., Clinton, Ontario, 1875-1920 (later owned by Sherlock-Manning Co.)
* Dominion Organ and Piano Co , Bowmanville, Ontario, 1873-c.1936
Eben-Ezer Organ Co., Clifford, Ontario, 1935
Gates Organ and Piano Co., c.1872-82 Malvern Square, NS; 1882-after 1885 Truro, NS
Goderich Organ Co., Goderich, Ontario, fl.1890-1910 A.S. Hardy & Co., Guelph, Ontario, fl.1874
John Jackson and Co., Guelph, Ontario, fl.1872-3, 1880-3?
* D.W. Karn Co., Woodstock, Ontario, c.1867-1924
J. & R. Kilgour, Hamilton, Ontario, c.1872-88 as dealers, 1888-99 as piano and organ company
* Mason and Risch, Toronto, c.1871-1900
McLeod, Wood & Co., Guelph, Ontario, fl.1869-72; later R. McLeod & Co., London, Ontario, fl.1874-5
Malhoit & Co., Simcoe, Ontario, fl.1875
Charles Mee, Kingston, Ontario, fl.1870
* John M. Miller (later Miller & Karn and D.W. Karn), Woodstock, Ontario, fl.1867 Mudge & Yarwood Manufacturing Co., Whitby, Ontario, 1873-?
New Dominion Organ Co., Saint John, NB, fl.1875
William Norris, North York, Ontario, fl.1867
Ontario Organ Co., Toronto, 1884
Oshawa Organ and Melodeon Manufacturing Co., 1871-3 (see Dominion Organ and Piano Co)
Pratte, Montreal, 1889-1926 (harmoniums built c.1912)
Rappe & Co., Kingston, Ontario, c.1871-c.1887
J. Reyner, Kingston, Ontario, c.1871-c.1885
Sherlock-Manning Organ Co., London, Ontario, later Clinton, Ontario, 1902-78 (reed organs built 1902-1950s)
J. Slown, Owen Sound, Ontario, fl.1871-89
David W. & Cornelius D. Smith, Brome, Quebec, 1875-?
Smith & Scribner, Chatham, Ontario, fl.1864-5
Frank Stevenson, North York, Ontario, fl.1867
* Edward G. Thomas Organ Co., Woodstock, Ontario, 1875-c1940
James Thornton & Co., Hamilton, Ontario, fl.1871-89
Toronto Organ Co., Toronto, 1880
William Townsend, Toronto, fl.late 1840s, Hamilton 1853-5
Uxbridge Organ Co , Uxbridge, Ontario, fl.1872-1909
* S.R. Warren and Sons, Toronto, fl.1878-c.1910
Elijah West, West Farnham, Quebec, fl.1860-75
Thomas W. White & Co., Hamilton, Ontario, 1863-after 1869
R.S. Williams & Sons, Toronto, c.1878-c.1910
Wilson & Co., Sherbrooke, Quebec
Wood, Powell & Co., Guelph, Ontario, fl.1883-4
* Woodstock Organ Factory, Woodstock, Ontario, fl.1876 (see D.W. Karn)

J.B. Hartman includes a chapter on reed organs in his book The Organ in Manitoba: a History of the Instruments, the Builders and the Players [91].

Rodney Jantzi is one of the Reed Organ Society contacts in Canada, his Web site is here:

Rodney has a nice YouTube channel which explains to people how to play reed organs and illustrates some of the best Canadian makes (e.g. Karn). You can appreciate the quality and sound of these instruments.

We are not going to explore the history of all these makers, but for more information, why not consult the updated on-line ROS and R.F. Gellerman collections [217]?

Bell Piano and Organ Co. (1864-1928)

There are still many Bell organs in the UK, and the reason is explained here. See also Chapter 25.10. The following information is from Grace's Guide

William Bell was born in Dumfries on 5/9/1833. He learned his trade of carpentry in Scotland and later became a contractor. He moved with his parents William and Mary and brothers Joseph and Robert to Toronto, Canada in 1853. William married Isabella Christie in 1860 in Guelph, Ontario. They moved to Minnesota a year later as his carpentry trade fourished.

The Bell Organ Company of Guelph was founded in 1864 by brothers William and Robert plus a staff of three in the top story of a building on Upper Wyndham Street, producing one ``Diploma'' melodeon per week.

William and Isabella stayed in Guelph, now with son William J. Bell and daughter Edith L. Bell. William had sound sales and business knowledge that enabled the business to develop comprehensively. His carpentry expertise ensured that his workers would produce good quality items. William Bell had become a manager by 1865.

W. Bell and Co. moved to Carden Street in 1867 where they opened a new factory and were producing 80 instruments per year. The name W. Bell & Co. was used at least as early as 1871 when a new three story factory was opened on Market Square. There are advertisments in the Church Herald (Canada) from early 1874 noting that they had recently received a silver medal, three diplomas and 12 first prizes. They claimed to be sole proprietors and manufactureres of the ``Organette'' with Scribner's tubes. By 1881, they had nearly 200 employees and produced over 1,200 melodeons and reed organs annually. Some were exported as far as Australia.

It had been thought that Bell merged with McLeod, Wood & Co. in 1867 under the name of Bell, Wood & Co. however Rodney suggests this is probably not true, as there are independent advertisments from John Jackson & Co. in 1874 who claim to be the successors to McLeod, Wood & Co. and then manufacturing the ``Cremona'' and ``Vox Celeste'' organs.

By 1883 Bell had two factories. One occupied a down-town block and employed 400 men. A lumber yard with drying kilns and stables with 200 men was across the street on the other side of the railway tracks. A year later, the company claimed to have produced 26,000 instruments. Bell formed a partnership with his son W.J. Bell (1863-1925), Mrs. W.B. Kennedy and A.W. Alexander.

Known addresses in London are Hart Street (Bloomsbury Mansion) c.1885-6 and 58 Holborn Viaduct c.1887-91.

The younger Bell sold the firm in 1888 to an English syndicate, at which time [or 1898?] the name was changed to the Bell Organ and Piano Co. Ltd., and the manufacture of pianos began. The company's production reached 600 reed organs and 200 pianos per month.

The first grand pianos were built in 1901. Bell pianos were exported extensively, and some of the better models were sent to the palaces of Queen Victoria, Queen Frederica, the Kings of Italy and Spain, and a Turkish Sultan. The instruments also enjoyed success in trade exhibitions and competitions. Piano sales out stripped organ sales in 1907 and seemed likely to continue doing so, the company therefore changed its name to the Bell Piano and Organ Co Ltd. Agencies were established across Canada in addition to the UK.

William had retired from Bell in Oct'1897. When the organ and piano businesses were well established he turned to other ventures. Nothing else is heard of him until his un-timely and ill fated death, hit by a railway train on 26/9/1912 aged 79.

William J. Bell died suddenly in London on 13/11/1925.

The Bell Company in Guelph grew into one of the largest companies in the British Empire with additional locations in England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There are no figures of how big the company actually became, as employee records have been lost over time, but they are thought to have made over 170,000 organs and pianos. Organ production was dis-continued in 1928 and D.W. Karn took over this side of the business. The company was initially sold to John Dowling of Brantford, Ontario and then finally sold in 1934 to the Lesage Piano Co. The first factory ultimately burned down in 1945.

Known serial numbers of reed organs are as follows:

1883 - 22539, 1893 - 61997, 1899 - 83690
1884 - 26000, 1894 - 64200, 1900 - 89615 (Jan.)
1889 - 47982, 1895 - 75440, 1900 - 90602 (Mar.)
1890 - 52239, 1896 - 77107, 1902 - 96766
1892 - 60810 (Jan.), 1898 - 79932 (May), 1904 - 109092
1892 - 63416 (May), 1898 - 80717 (July), 1907 - 122817
1892 - 65557 (Nov.), 1898 - 82384 (Oct.), 1919 - 124490

Bellolian serial number 11 was made on 28/4/1903.

A 2-manual 16-stop reed organ with patent ``mouse proof'' pedals was installed in St. Alban's Anglican Church, Oak Lake, Manitoba around 1890, and was still in use in the 1990s. The interesting specification, which includes 2' stops and a 4' Pedal stop, is as follows.

Great:                       Swell:
Bombardon 16'                Cremona 16'
Bourdon Treble 16'           Euphone 16'
Violone 8'                   Fagotte 8'
Melodia 8'                   Aeolian 8'
Celeste 8'                   Saxhorn 8'
Flute 4'                     Violetta 2;
Piccolo 2'                   Forte
Octave Coupler               (missing)
(missing)                    Swell to Great
Great to Pedal               Sewll to Pedal

Bourdon Bass 16'
Pipe Melodia 8'
Viola 4'

2x manuals
electric blower added 1952

Some other Bell reed organs are shown by Ivan Furlanis

bell_crane1.jpg bell_crane2.jpg bell_crane3.jpg

Here's another 2MP I noted in 1973. Stops from left to right are: Bourdon Bass 16', Violetta 2', Diapason 8', Fagotto 8', Viola 4', Sax Horn 4', Dolce 4', Forte, Bourdon 16', Vox Humana, Swell to Great, Octave Coupler, Cremona 16', Great to Pedal, Euphone 16', Flute 4', Aeoline 8', Melodia 8', Piccolo 2', Bourdon Treble 16'.

Fitted with a BOB blower and has to mouse proof treadles, two knee swells, two Grand Jeu pedals and two latch-down swell pedals. The following photo shows an identical organ.


A smaller 1M/3:3 in Rigsby church 1976 was as follows: Viola 4', Diapason 8', Dulcet 8', Bourdon Bass 16, Bass Coupler, Vox Humana, Forte, Treble Coupler, Cremona 16', Euphone 16', Dulciana 8', Melodia 8', Vox Angelica 4', Flute 4'.

Others similar (but smaller) was seen for sale at Mr. Crook's second hand shop in 1976 no.122494 and 1977 which was no.94767. And others in Holy Trinity, Bilsby and for sale in Egham Hill and at Methodist church, Swinscoe.

Clarabella Organ Co. (c.1898-1900)

Clarabella organs were made in Toronto, Canada. Perhaps most of them were sold in UK through various retailers. However, not much is known (nothing?) about the manufacturing company. Can anyone shed light on this?

Clarbella organs were also made by F.C. Carter, see Chapter 25.22.


A typical Canadian single manual instrument with 11 stops would have: Diapason, Sub Bass, Bass Coupler, Forte, Bassoon, Vox Humana, Aeoline, Delicato, Treble Coupler, Vox Celeste and Clarabella plus two knee swells. This has only two sets of reeds including 13 for the Sub Bass.

W. Doherty & Co. (1868-)

Doherty, of Clinton, Ontario, started as Doherty & Menzies in 1868, at that time a furniture and music retailer. They made a few organs in 1875 and the next year built a small work shop employing eight men. In 1879 a second building was constructed and production reached 100 organs per month. This original factory complex was located in the block bounded by Princess, Raglan and Rattenbury Streets. In 1898 the entire plant burned down, but within three months a new one consisting of two buildings at the corner of East and Irwin Streets was built with a capacity for four hundred organs per month. These buildings are still in existence.

Piano production began about 1905 and the firm was re-named Doherty Piano & Organ Co. in 1908, Doherty Piano Co. in 1913 and Doherty Pianos Ltd. in 1917. Fires in 1901 and 1905 however caused serious set-backs. The company was acquired by Sherlock-Manning Piano and Organ Co. in 1920 when William Doherty retired, but continued to operate under the Doherty name.

Doherty made folding organs used by missionaries and also by the military in World War II and the Korean War. Capacity in 1906 was 6,000 organs per year. Organ production declined after about 1910 and came to an end during World War II.

Some serial numbers include:
1887 - 5678;
1889 - 11429;
1901 - 36239;
1902 - 39023;
1904 - 46279;
1904 - 46667;
1908 - 55848.

Doherty instruments are included in the sales catalogue of Crane and Co. 32.8.1. It is believed that the construction of Spencer organs later sold by Cranes was similar to Doherty and may have used some of their patents.

Doherty built a number of large instruments, many were two manuals only, such as the ``Victorian'' model with around 7 ranks sometimes seen in the UK. Here is a nice series of photos showing a restoration by Rodney Jantzi:

The were also 2MP such as the following which is registered as ROS-5766. This is one of their finest, and is located in Saskatewan and is a ``Cathedral Style 81'' and manufactured 12/8/1908 with serial no. 55848.

2x 61 now manuals, split scale at B-c

Great Bass:                  Great Treble:
Euphone 16'                  Principal 4'        
Diapason 8'                  Diapason 8'         
Principal 4'                 Bourdon 16'         
Sackbut 4'                   Diapason Forte      
Vox Jubilante 4'             Great to Octave     
                             Swell to Great      

Swell Bass:                  Swell Treble:
Bassoon 16'                  Vox Celeste 16'   
Stopped Diapason 8'          Angelica 2'       
Flute 4'                     Flute 4'          
Oboe 2'                      Delicato 8'       
Magic Flute 2'               Cello 16'         
Harp Aeoline 2'              Vox Humana        

Bourdon 16'
Violoncello 16'
Great to Pedal


And another video and story of the ``Cathedral'' model:

One of these instruments is now in the Bradford Museums and Galleries collection. It was originally sold by Cranes of Liverpool and acquired by the museum in 1987 accession no. H685/81. The instrument was previously for the Sacred Heart Church in Bingley. See

Calke Abbey 2MP

Calke Abbey in Derbyshire is in the care of the National Trust. They have a very nice Web site showing organs at NT properties:

This one was sold by Edgar Horne, see 32.15. It is a 2MP instrument by Doherty. The description is as follows: Maker's name erased. ``W D & Co'' worked into treadle covers; maker's name and location in gold to L and R of stop array respectively; polished out but ``Clinton Ontario'' just visible. A dealer's label on the batten below the stop knobs: EDGAR HORNE / DERBY, BUXTON, CHESTERFIELD, NOTTINGHAM. In pencil on Great keyframe: Mar 8/97 Numbers: 22109; 124/22109; 2087.

American walnut casework. Variously carved (?), stamped and fretted ornamentation, with carrying handles and lamp stands at either end. Two 61-note manual keyboards, C compass. Detachable flat pedal board with 30 parallel wooden keys (C-F). Sixteen drawstops controlling: 1 set pedal reeds (16' pitch); 2 sets Swell reeds (8', 4' bass; 8', 8' (sharp) treble); 3 sets Great reeds (16', 8', 4' treble and bass); Swell-Great, Great-Pedal and Great Octave couplers; Swell and Great Fortes. Two hitch down toe pedals; one for Full Organ, one for Swell and Great Forte, duplicating the drawstop action.


Dominion Organ Co.


The Dominion Organ Co. were established in 1870 by A.M. Darley and Wm. Robinson in Oshawa, Ontario as Darley & Robinson, later Darley & Hoskin, then Oshawa Organ & Melodeon Mfg. Co. Jesse H. Farwell of Detroit was shown as president and principal owner in 1872 - he was also a partner in Simmons & Clough.

The factory moved to Bowmanville, Ontario in 1873 under the management of Darley and O'Hara. It was re-named the Dominion Organ Co. in 1875 with Messrs. Piggot, Russell and Wesley as management. They were awarded a bronze medal in Paris in 1878. Capacity in 1880 was 100 to 125 organs per month. In 1879 the town council of Bowmanville granted the company a bonus of $5,000 to erect a piano factory, and in 1880 the name was changed to Dominion Organ & Piano Co., then Dominion Organ & Piano Co. Ltd. in 1886. On the death of Mr. Piggott in 1890, Mr. Farwell again resumed control until 1895 when the company was purchased by Messrs. Alexander, Kydd and McConnel. Alexander became sole proprietor in 1901. Officers in 1906 were: J.W. Alexander, president and general manager; C.J. Rowe, secretary-treasurer; J.B. Mitchell, vice-president and super-intendent.

Dominion manufactured organs with the Scribner patent qualifying tubes under an agreement, presumably due to Jesse Farwell, with Clough & Warren, owners of the patent. Production ceased about 1930, the firm was declared bankrupt in 1936 and closed in 1937.

Dominion built quite a few large instruments with 2M or 2MP and interesting specifications. They built a 19 stop reed organ with 12 sets of reeds which won an international medal in 1876. They also built 2-manual instruments for church use in the 1880s and published an instruction manual for players. One 2MP with a pipe top was shown at the World's Columbia Exposition in 1893.

Serial numbers include: 1889 - 11664; 1908 - 48441.

Rodney has several YouTube videos of a 2M Dominion Orchestral organ, e.g. Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minoe here:

The specification of a large 2MP instrument ``Orchestral'' model, ROS-3460 which was possibly built c.1900 is as follows (I'm not sure this specification is complete).

2x 61-note manuals C-c, split scale
30 note concate pedals
electric blower

Swell Bass:              Swell Treble:
Fagotte 8'               Cremona 16'
Saraphone 4'             Cello 16' (der)               
Flugel Horn 2'           Aeoline 8'
Vox Humana               Piccolo 2'
Forte to Swell           

Great Bass:              Great Treble:
Bourdon 16'              Bourdon 16'       
Diapason 8'              Melodia 8'        
Viola 4'                 Flute d'Amour 8'       
Dulcet 4' (der)          Voix Celeste 8'   
Octave Coupler           Principal 4'
Forte to Great
Swell to Great

Bombardon 16'
Euphone  16'
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

There is an ``Orchestral Organ'' example in the Beamish Museum, but not in full working order. There are several pictures on Rodney's Web site, and others can be seen and heard on YouTube. One originally sold by Albert Wagstaff, Manchester, was for sale via e-Bay *3489 in Alderley Edge, Feb'2016. The specification is as follows:

2x manuals F-f
2x knee swells

Upper Manual:                 Lower Manual:
Melophone 8'                  Diapason 8'           
Flugle Horn 2'                Viola 4'              
Sub Bass 16'                  Dulcet 4'             
Vox Humana                    Octave Coupler        
Cremona 16'                   Manual Coupler        
Cello 16'                     Principal 4'          
Aeoline 8'                    Flute D'Amour 8'      
Piccolo 2'                    Vox Celeste 8'        
                              Melodia 8'


D.W. Karn

I have a personal connection with Karn & Co. as their's were the first suction organs that I played as a teenager. There seemed to be quite a lot of them around at that time, and there are still many across the UK.

D.W. Karn of 532 Dundas Street, Woodstock, Ontario were established in 1867 when Dennis Karn joined John Miller, forming Miller & Karn, also known as the Woodstock Organ Factory. Karn bought out Miller in 1870 but retained the Miller & Karn name for several years before changing it to D.W. Karn Co. They exhibited in Barcelona in 1888.

They acquired the S.R. Warren & Son organ factory of Toronto in 1896 and in 1909 became the Karn-Morris Piano & Organ Co. Officers in 1906 were D.W. Karn, President and T. Drew Smith, Secretary-Treasurer.

D.W. Karn established an outlet in 3 Newman Street, Oxford Street, London in 1886. In 1914 they were listed as manufacturers of pipe organs, reed organs with grand auxiliary pipes and qualifying tubes, pianos and player-pianos known as the ``Pianauto''. They had 400 employees.

In the early 1920s the company went through several changes of ownership ending in bankruptcy. The assets were acquired by Sherlock-Manning in 1924.

Serial numbers of reed organs:
1886 - 15887
1890 - 24098
1890 - 25367
1891 - 28025
1900 - 46154.

Karn and Co. built a number of large and interesting 1M and 2M instruments. Some had Scribner tubes, e.g.

This is the specification of no.38321 build on 23/1/1909 and registered as ROS-4198.

2x 61-note manuals C-c
radiating concave pedals
electric blower
pitch A=452~Hz

Swell:                      Great:
Fagotto 16'                 Dulciana 8'
Viol da Gamba 8'            Flute 4'
Melodia 8'                  Diapason 8'
Cremona 16'                 Harp Aeoline 2'
Pipe Diapason 8'            Viola 4'
Tremolo                     Piccolo 2'
                            Treble Coupler
                            Swell to Great

Sub Bass 16'
Bourdon 16'
Great to Pedal

This is a photo of a fairly typical but nice example of a 14-stop 1M Karn organ advertised in Dec'2018 *e9005.


1M/3:3 no.48681

I don't have photos of the one Pete and I owned back in the 1970s, but here's the stop list. It carried the number 48681 so must have been built in the early 20th century. Bass Coupler, Vila 4', Viol d'Amour 4', Diapason 8', Piano 8', Contra Bass 16', Forte, Vox Jubilante, Cremona 16', Viloncello 16', Dolce 8', Principal 8', Flute 4', Treble Coupler.

It had treadles and two knee swells. I noted at the time that it had a nice tonal build-up but that the keys bounce, which is quite often a problem on suction reed organs.

St. Andrew's Beesby 1M/5:4

Here's a slightly larger one that I saw in 1976. It carried labels as follows.

Karn Woodstock, Canada;
London, England; Hamburg, Germany.

D'Almaine and Co. 
91 Finsbury Pavement.
Estd. London 1785.

Stops are: Bass Coupler, Viola 4', Viol d'Amour 4', Diapason 8', Piano 8', Cornetino 8', Harp Aeoliene 2', Sub Bass 16' Diapason Forte, Vox Jubilante, Viola Forte, Cremona 16', Grand Solo 4+16', Violoncello 16', Vox Angelica 8', Dolce 8', Principal 8', Flute 4', Treble Coupler

I also saw no.53918 in 1971 which was a 1M/2:2 in Marlpool parish church, Alstonfield church 1973 (imported by Spence and Co., Manchester) and Morley Methodist church 1973 plus some others I noted as small but good.

Mason & Risch (1871-c.1900)

Mason & Risch were established in 1871 at 32 King Street, Toronto.

From 1887 until 1890, Morris Wright and the New York Church Organ Company had streamlined Vocalion production and put a renewed focus on advertising and promotion in the USA, see 7. The Mason & Risch Organ Company purchased the New York Church Organ Company in 1890 along with the patents and manufacturing rights to the Vocalion.

Production of the Vocalion continued at the 5-15 Summer Street, Worcester MA, USA factory and Morris Wright once again assumed his role as factory superintendent and the primary person responsible for ongoing development of the Vocalion. A.J. Mason was the general business manager. Between 1890 and 1900, many Vocalions of all sizes and styles were manufactured and sold bearing the Mason & Risch stencil on their name boards.

3MP/18 Style 21 from 1888 Catalogue

Jonathan Ross sent a note to Brian Styles' mailing list in September 2005 about a 3MP/18 instrument, saying I was wondering if anyone had ever come across a 3-manual Vocalion. I was lent a catalogue of the ``New York Church Organ Company'' from 1888 (before Mason and Risch manufactured Vocalions, IIRC) advertising several different makes and models of Vocalions including a 3-manual and pedal instrument identified as ``Style 21''. So I thought I'd ask and see if anyone has actually seen such a monster.

Manual compass: 58 notes (CC-a3)
Pedal compass: 30 notes (CC-f1) - flat pedalboard
All stops are full-compass except where noted

Trumpet 8', Diapason 8', Melodia 8', Flute Harmonique 4', Bourdon 16'

Dolce 8' (very soft), Oboe 8', Cremona 8' (highest 39 notes), Flute d'Amour 4',
Fagotto 16' ( lowest 19 notes), Voix Celeste 8'

Dulciana 8', Clarinet 8', Clarabella 8', Gamba 8', Principal 4'

Bourdon 16' (soft), Violoncello 8', Ophicleide 16' (powerful)

Mechanical Stops:
Great to Swell, Great to Solo, Swell to Solo, Swell to Pedal, Solo to
Pedal, Tremulant [? see below]

Combination Pedals:
Forte - Great Full
Piano - Great Melodia alone
Great to Pedal (reversible)
Balanced  Swell Pedal

A very interesting stop list to say the least, especially for 1888. I think the most notable things are the lack of a 2' stop on any manual (a pipe organ of this size would have several, and the later 17-rank Vocalions were noted for their Swell 2' Piccolos), the strange Fagotto/ Cremona in the Swell, the Ophicleide in the Pedal (a rarely found reed stop in pipe organs, and odd to have rather than a 16' Open Diapason) and the conservative nature of the so-called ``Solo'' manual (this is essentially a very conservative Choir scheme rather than a true Solo as was beginning to be found on three manual organs at the time). The listing of inter-manual couplers is quite odd, but here I am betting that the copy is incorrect and instead of Great to Swell they mean Swell to Great and Solo to Great - this would give the common inter-manual couplers found on most three manuals of the time (Swell-to-Choir to Solo; Swell-to-Great; Choir to Solo-to-Great) - but perhaps the copy is correct and it had some strange couplers.

The number of couplers also makes me wonder if a pneumatic assist was included. Coupling everything together without the main coupling manual (either Great or Solo depending on whether you choose to believe the copy as is or think it is a misprint) having an assist of sorts would make the action extremely heavy. Not un-playable (I've played an 1850's three manual E&GG Hook with un-assisted couplers with all going at once - Swell to Choir 16, Choir to Great, Swell to Great - so it can be done, but I wouldn't recomend it for long pieces!) but very un-weildy.

Later Vocalions and the Aeolian Orchestrelle had this Barker lever type assisted action as designed by Morris S. Wright [118]. Drawings of the action design are shown by Williams and Faust [202,61]. Other drawings of the pneumatic action, this time from an Aeolian Model W built in England in 1912 are shown on the Mechanical Music Digest Web site which details the restoration of this instrument by the late Richard Vance. Barker action in the Cavallé-Coll 2MP instrument is illustrated in Willem van Buuren's article [21].

3MP/24 Chiesa Valdesa, Pisa, no. 3114, 1898

What must be the largest Vocalion was built by Mason and Risch in 1898, with whom the association continued for 5 years. This serial number 3114 has 24 ranks of reeds. It has survived and has been in Chiesa Valdesa (Waldesian Church), Pisa, Italy since 1984 when it was donated by the family of Pier Enrico Jahler (see Fritz Gellerman's datase entry 742) and was restored in 2003 by Gastoner Mezzaroba. Information and photos of the restoration can be seen here: We note that it carries a label proclaiming ``Wright Patent, March 27, 1888''. Waring [186] notes The Wright Patent is a hybrid pipe organ, American organ, and harmonium consisting of a tracker pipe organ chassis, action, chest, and pallets, with pressure wind bellows, speaking through reeds of American organ construction, with timbres modulated by harmonium inspired tuned resonating chambers. Wright's windchest design perfected the earlier concepts of Baillie Hamilton and aestablished the specifications for the windchest assembly and tone qualifying chambers that were used in all subsequent Vocalions.

Number 3114 must have been something to rival many a pipe organ. It is a really impressive instrument which is why I am listing this specification.


I was sent more photos of this ``monster'' by Paul Carey, from which I note the specification as follows. Much more information about Vocalions is given on his Vocalion Group Web site

Manual compass: 58 notes (CC-a3)
Pedal compass: 30 notes (CC-f1) -- flat pedalboard
All stops are full-compass except where noted

Lieblich Gedacht 8',
Clarinet 8', Clarabella 8', Flute d'Amour 4', Eolian Harp 4' II

Melodia 8', Viol d'Gamba 8', Harmonic Flute 4',
Open Diapason 16', Open Diapason 8', Trumpet 8'

Voix Celeste 8', Flautina 2' (derived),
Piccolo 2', Concert Flute 4', Dolce Flute 4' (derived), Salicional 8', Oboe 8',
Violin Diapason 8', Bourdon 16', Stopped Diapason 8'

Violoncello Dolce 8' (derived), Bourdon Dolce 16' (derived),
Tuba Mirabilis 32', Violoncello 8', Double Open Diapason 16', Bourdon 16'

Mechanical Stops:
Swell Tremolo, Choir Tremolo, Bellows Signal, 
Choir-Great, Swell-Choir, Swell-Great, Choir-Pedal, Great-Pedal

Combination Pedals:
Piano Pedal, Forte Pedal, Piano Swell, Forte Swell
Great-Pedal reversible 
2x balanced swell pedals (Swell, Choir)
Piano Great, Forte Great, Piano Choir, Forte Choir
Full Organ

The disposition of the instrument, according to Paul Carey, is as follows: Swell (8 ranks) enclosed bottom chest; Great (6 ranks) in an un-enclosed middle chest; Choir (6 ranks) enclosed top chest; Pedal (4 ranks). We will see below that the disposition of the original Hill instruments was very similar.

A YouTube video of the 3M Vocalion in Pisa is recorded by Ivan Furlanis


A third 3MP Vocalion with 23 ranks is now listed on Paul Carey's Web site.

A smaller Vocalion having a similar case to ``The Italian Job'' can be seen at This is virtually identical to the Hill instruments except in detail.

Thomas Organ Co. (1875-c.1921)

J.H. Richards [20] gives the early history of the Thomas Organ Co. as follows. John Morgan Thomas (c.1805-1875) started a workshop in Montreal in 1832 to make organs and pianos. He built a new head quarters for the firm in Toronto in 1844. His son Edward G. Thomas (b.-d.1891) took over the firm after John Morgan's death.

Gellerman [76] notes that the Thomas Organ Co. of Woodstock, Ontario was founded in 1875. This was the same place as D.W. Karn's factory, and at one time there may have been up to 11 other small firms operating in Woodstock. The founder, Edward G. Thomas was a member of a large family of organ and piano builders. James Dunlop became a partner in 1891 and owner in 1895 when the name changed to the Thomas Organ and Piano Co. In 1900 they were making 150 reed organs per month and these were c.1920 marketed as the Thomas Orchestral or the Symphony reed organ. From 1915 they were advertising two manual and pedal instruments for church or home. One of their advertising slogans was ``Made by British labour in Britain's Premier Colony''.

3MP Canadian Organ

The 3MP instrument shown in Chapter 26.15 looks similar to some instruments by the Thomas Organ Co. Can you help with more information?

2MP Canadian Organ


It is known that Riley of Birmingham sold high quality Canadian instruments.

In Dec'2004 a 2MP organ with the Henry Riley label was listed on e-Bay. It did not attract any bids, probably because it was noted as having an electric blower included, but being in poor condition. Another one was offered in Aug'2006, also with electric blower; specification is not complete.

2x 61 note manuals
30 note pedal

Swell:                          Great:
Melodia 8'                      Bourdon 16'
Clarionet 8'                    Piano 8' (derived)
Principal 4'                    Diapason 8'
                                Flute 4'

Couplers:                       Pedal:
Great to Pedal                  Bourdon 16'
Swell to Great                  Pipe Melodia 8'
Forte to Great                  
Forte to Swell

2x combination pedals
2x balanced swell pedals
1x Grand Jeu pedal.

The 8' Pedal stop is a nice feature, and the organ probably has 7 or 8 ranks.

Surprisingly these instruments have a radiating and concave pedal board. The 2MP is also possibly a pressure instrument and its style is quite unusual.

riley_2mp_front.jpg riley_nameplate.jpg riley_pedals.jpg

There was an almost identical instrument by the Thomas Organ Co. c.1895 registred on the ROS DB no.1962.

Ian Thompson noted: Thomas did a lot of 2MP reed organs, which would certainly have interested Riley as an importer. I think he probably bought in from a number of makers and just cheekily stuck his name on them! But my [own] ``Riley'' is definitely a Dominion: action, spec (despite many un-original stop faces) and casework all point that way.

The ones by Dominion are indeed very similar and both have a radiating concave pedal board.

S.R and C.S. Warren

Samuel Russell Warren was born in Tiverton, Rhode Island, on 29/3/1809, and later worked as an organ builder for Thomas Appleton in Boston. He was the brother of Thomas D. Warren. By 1836 he was working in Montreéal, and in 1849 was listed as a manufacturer of ``Church and Parlour Organs, Piano Fortes, Aeolophones and Harmoniums'', with a shop at 10 St. Joseph Street. Following advertisement is from The Canada Directory Nov'1851.


In 1879 (finally aged 70) he formed a partnership with two sons: Samuel Prowse Warren and Charles Sumner Warren, as S.R. Warren & Sons. About 1878, the firm had re-located to Toronto. Samuel Russell died in Montreéal on 30/7/1882, but the firm was continued by his sons and in 1896, was sold to Dennis W. Karn and became the Karn-Warren Organ Co.

George Baillie Hamilton went to Canada to work with C.S. Warren for two years resulting in the ``Canadian Vocalion'', see 7. He afterwards had an agreement with Mason and Risch from around 1890 to handle sales of the instrument then referred to as the Canadian Vocalion manufactured by S.R. Warren and Son. Because S.R. Warren had trained as a pipe organ builder he was much more accustomed to individually constructed and voiced instruments than the regular reed organs of the time. Warren was also said to be responsible for introducing free reeds into Canadian pipe organs.

We note that the exact chronology of this story is not easily confirmed and the best estimate of the order of events may be given by Ord-Hume []. I assume that Hills built the first ones, perhaps from 1875 until around 1886. Louis Huivenaar notes that the patents were sold to Morris Wright in 1888 and manufacture thereafter moved to North America and Canada. Hamilton was however registering US patents from 1884 until 1915 and we kow that his business in Worcester was set up in 1886 or slightly earlier.

It was noted above that D.W. Karn and Co. acquired the S.R. Warren & Son organ factory of Toronto in 1896.

The following specication is of an instrument by S.R. Warren & Son dating 1884 ROS-1831.

2x 58 note manuals
pedals straight concave
hand pumped

Swell:                     Great:
Diapson 8'                 Principal 4'
Oboe 8'                    Clarionet 8'
Flute 4'                   Clarabella 8'
Vox Humana                 Tuba 16'

Pedal:                     Couplers:
Pedal Forte                Swell to Great
Bourdon 16'                Great to Pedal
                           Swell to Pedal

S.R. Warren hybrid organ, 2MP/12

[Rodney noted: I'm also finding many other contradictory claims that have gone down in history, especially the reed organ claims by S.R. Warren. I will know more about him once I get the opportunity to dissect his instruments!]

This instrument is a very early and unusual hybrid of a pipe organ with free reeds. It is said to be by S.R. Warren from the 1850s and is in St. Paul's church in Abbotsford, Canada. We note that S.R. Warren and Son later went on to manufacture the Canadian Vocalion, see Chapter 7 so I have chosen to include it here.

The current specification is taken from the restaurer's Web site

Swell:                                  Great:                          
Clarion 4' (bass, free reed)            Op. Diapason 8' (treble)        
Flagalet 4' (treble, free reed)         Dulciana 8' (treble)            
Bassoon 8' (bass, free reed)            St. Diapason 8' (common bass)   
Clarinet 8 (treble, free reed)'         Rohr Flute 8' (treble)          
Violoncello 8' (bass, free reed)        Principal 4'                    
Viola 8' (treble, free reed)            Piccolo 2'                      
Serpent 16' (bass, free reed)           Flute 4'                        
Saxe Horn 16' (treble, free reed)       Cornopean 8' (bass, free reed)  
Tremulent                               Horn 8' (treble, free reed)     
Couplers:                               Pedal:                          
Swell to Great                          Tuba 16' (free reed)            
Great to Pedal                    
Swell to Pedal

The exact disposition of stops is not entirely clear, but here is a photo of the console and organ case.


A description from Dean [o'facteur] follows. This instrument is quite a hybrid, indeed. We think that originally it was a 1M pipe organ and constructed in the 1850s. The pipework is signed Warren, but the instrument could have been assembled from pre-existing pipework. It was later enlarged (perhaps in the 1860s) to include a set of free reeds on the lower manual, and four sets of reeds on the upper manual. Also the 16ft free reed was added in the Pedal. It appears that the Gt. reed was new construction as was the Pedal reed and chest. There are a few replacements. The pedal reeds are somewhat European (like a German reed plate) in their construction. A solid mahogany plate with aperatures cut into it. The reeds are screwed onto the plate, and there is a tuning wire for each reed. Very crude, but very prompt and effective. The upper manual appears to have been made with two existing American reed organ chests. There are two distinct types of reeds, both of which are early construction, perhaps 1860s. The strange thing is that the reeds were originally placed vertically in their cells, something I have never seen in an early instrument. When the two reed pans were cut apart and re-joined, the reeds were placed in the cells upside down, and so they function on pressure. This could well be a prototype for the vocallion instruments later to appear in production. I actually think the latter comment is not correct because the dates are wrong.

The next photo shows the 16' pedal reeds which are mounted in mahogany plates and are very unusual.


Dean later sent the following information. I have just started working on the early reed organ pipe organ hybrid that lives in a small country church in St. Paul d'Abbottsford, QC, Canada. It appears that the pipe organ was enlarged with a nice complement of free reeds in the 1870s or perhaps earlier. The reeds seem to be re-cycled from an instrument from the 1850s or 1860s. The instrument was documented by Bob Pelletier for the ROS. I am wondering who made the reeds for the instrument. They have a pierced oval to extract them, and the rivet is square on the underside of the reed. The particularity of the instrument is that the reeds have been turned upside down in their cells, so that they work with pressure. The instrument also seems to have been modified at least 3 times over its lifetime.

A reply from Frans van der Grijn said Mounting the reeds "sound" English to me. Is there any indication of the original builder linking to England?

Louis Huivenaar added further factual information. He noted that either Carpenter or Carhart were working at that time and may have made vertical cell blocks. Other builders mounted vertical sub bass chests. The larger reeds are made in a milling machine which was possible in the 1850s.

For more historical information and photos see

Rob Allan