I introduced this chapter in 2011. Until then I had avoided listing retailers, but some of them are pervasive and I've now decided to add them to the information available to avoid confusion. I am just curious about some of the others. I really didn't write this chapter, it wrote itself!
Retailers stocked and sold both English and imported instruments, very often pianos, not just reed organs. In many cases they put on their own shop labels, and may even have disguised or removed the original makers' names adding to the confusion. Crane and Sons and Dale, Forty and Co. did this, and sold many instruments of all kinds over a long period of time. The Malcolm and Murdoch labels are also still not fully understood.
The musical instrument business centered on a small number of cities. As an example, Liverpool has a long musical history, both serious and popular. As well as several manufacturers of organs, violins, pianos, etc. it bosted the following outlets:
A wholesale musical instrument business listed in 1888 at 31 Aldermanbury, London E.C. Various ads listed them as importers or makers. There are several suction reed organs with the shop label and title ``The Bee Organ'' either style 96 (7 stops) or style 97 (11 stops). It is believed that they may have been made in Canada, but by whom?
Details for this maker (or dealer) not known, but see e-Bay *3685 which shows a small French style harmonium.
Blackmans of Brixton Road, London sold harmoniums and pianos among other musical instruments.
Burdens were probably dealers of pianofortes, American organs and harmoniums of Leicester as stated on their name plate found on a small 1 rank harmonium of plain oak construction.
Carr's Department Store in London advertised a variety of Superior English Harmoniums, see Ord-Hume  Figure 15, p42.
Chappell and Company were established in London in 1811 by Samuel Chappell (-d.1834), Johann Chappell, Francis Tatton Latour and John Baptist Cramer. They were already partners in a music publishing business and started retailing pianos in their music store. In the 1840s the company started building their own pianos. During the late 19th Century, Chappell imported and sold reed organs by the American manufacturer Clough and Warren, such as the one supplied to St. Mary's Church, Framsden, 2/10/1886.
Chappell and Co. exhibited harmoniums with and without pedals at the London International Exhibition in 1862. The are principally known as manufacturers of pianos of 50 New Bond Street and 14-15 Poultry, London. They had works at 19 Ferdinand Street, Chalk Farm.
A note dated 11/9/1867 in the Northamptonshire Record Office Ref:Holt234 notes that one Rev.C. Holthouse purchased a 14 stop oak exhibition model harmonium from Chappell and Co.
After Samuel's death, his widow Emily took over the company with her three sons, William, Thomas and Arthur. Thomas worked for Chappell's and became a full partner in 1840. Each son eventually did their part in running the company. William Boosey succeeded as MD when Thomas died. William had worked with Thomas for many years, having joined the company in 1894. In 1901 Chappell Piano Co. Ltd. was incorporated as a separate company from the music publishing side and in 1922 production for grand and upright pianos reached one hundred a week.
During the 1920-30s, Chappell purchased several other illustrious English piano manufacturing firms including Allison and Co., Collard and Collard, and John Strohmenger and Sons. The Kemble Piano Company of London produced Chappell pianos until the year 2000.
It is now known from the research of Michel Dieterlen  that Chappells were one of the biggest customers of the French manufacturer Alexandre Père et Fils. Unfortunately all Chappell's own records, including dates of acquisitions of other firms, were lost in the devastating fire of 1964. The above name plate is from Ian Thompson's unusual harmonium which is actually cased and voiced to resemble a later suction instrument. He told me that its an F compass Alexandre Organ with 8', 8' and 4' reeds throughout, divided at B/mid C, with a 13 note Sub Bass and a 16' Celeste labelled Vox Humana in the treble. It is not known if these were built specifically for the British market.
Period advertisements also show that Chappell and Co. were selling Clough and Warren's ``Improved American Organs''.
Cornish & Co. of Washington, New Jersey, USA had a large warehouse and showrooms in London selling American organs and pianos. This was at no.15 [???].
Many of the large American manufacturers must have had similar outlets or used British franchises.
Crane and Sons Ltd. were large music dealers who imported reed organs from the USA for re-sale under their own name. They also commissioned others from English manufacturers.
It is believed that Crane and Sons were successors to The London and Liverpool Pianoforte Co., 30-32 Granby Road, Liverpool. Some labels actually say this. It is not known when Cranes took over. Actually some pianos still carry the L&L name and also the C&S stock numbers. Bill Kibby notes that it seems the name was used from 1886 until after WWII.
The firm was often known as Crane and Sons of Liverpool and London. In 1899 Cranes set up in London at 149 Oxford Circus as concertina makers, although it is believed that the instruments were actually made by the Lachenal Co. At that time they held an agency for Doherty organs. In 1902 they advertised as the sole agency for Christophe and Etienne harmoniums from 10 to 300 guineas.
Crane and Sons Ltd., the largest piano and organ firm in the World. Scotland Road, Liverpool. In 1910 Crane and Sons had shops at the following locations.
|London, 149 Oxford St.||Cardiff, 8 City Rd.|
|Liverpool, 2 Church St.||Wrexham, 40 Regent St.|
|Manchester, 202-4 Deansgate||Bangor, 156-8 High St.|
|Birmingham, Old Square||Swansea, 241 Oxford St.|
|Sheffield, Lady's Bridge|
|Bolton, 156 Deansgate||Scotland:|
|Seacombe, 48 Brighton St.||Glasgow, 82-4 New City Rd.|
|St. Helens, 7 Church St.|
|Preston, 114 Lancaster Rd.||Ireland:|
|Leeds, 19 Guildford St.||Dublin, 40 Upper Sackville St.|
|Newcastle, 272 Westgate Rd.||Belfast, Donegall Sq.|
|Hanley, Piccadilly||Cork, 37 South Mall|
At other times there were:
Birmingham, 35-36 Colmore Circus, Queensway B46 6BN
Liverpool, Crane Building, Hanover Street L1 3DZ
Liverpool, Scotland Road
The premises in Hanover Street, Liverpool, was built for the Crane Brothers to accommodate their music shop and offices in a five storey stone and brick building. It had six bays with a canted wall to Hanover Street, and five bays to School Lane, plus mezzanine and attic. The mezzanine floor had small paned casement windows between flat pilasters and entablature and the three upper storeys had flat pilasters with some carving.
A concert hall was located above the music shop. This hall was designed by W. Aubrey Thomas, and opened in 1915. It was used for instrumental recitals, but later became a theatre, known as The Crane Hall until 1938. The Liverpool Corporation took a lease on the building in 1968 and it was then re-named as The Neptune Theatre.
There are a number of organ Company Catalogues in the Winterthur Museum Library collection, see http://library.winterthur.org:8000/.
Among them, there is a catalogue issued by Crane & Sons in 1910. We present some details from this catalogue below. See http://www.archive.org/details/cranespianosorga00cran.
American Organ Models
``Cambridge'': possible Malcolm Organ
Walnut case with carving and webbed feet, 1 row of 8' reeds, 61 notes, no stops.
9Gns at 5s per month or £8-3s net.
``Daphne'': possible Malcolm Organ
Webbed feet with mirrors each side of music desk, walnut case with curvy ends.
7 stops (not in order) Diapason, Dulciana, Melodia, Echo, Treble Coupler, Bass Coupler, Vox Humana large bellows, single knee swell.
13Gns at 13s pcm or £11-14s net.
``Stella'': by Doherty
Dark walnut case, square feet, fretwork with mirror over, curvy ends, ``Crane Organ'' cast on treadles.
Style 1: 3 rows, 9 stops, 2 knee swells, 16Gns at 6s pcm or £ 14-8s net
Style 2: 3 rows, 11 stops including couplers, 2 swells, £15-6s
Style 3: 4 sets, 13 stops, 2 couplers, £16-3s
``Monarch'': by Doherty
Walnut case, style as above with mirror over, curvy ends, ``Crane Organ'' on treadles.
Style 4: 3 rows, 11 stops, 2 swells. £17-9s
Style 5: 4 rows, 13 stops, 2 swells. £19-15s
Style 6: 5 sets, 14 stops, 2 swells. £21-10s
``Chapel'': by Doherty
Chapel style, no mirrors, walnut or oak rail top carved swing music desk etc., curvy ends, ``Crane Organ'' on treadles.
Style 7: 4 sets, 13 stops £20-14s
Style 8: 5 sets, 14 stops, £22-10s
Style 9: 5 sets and sub-bass, 15 stops; £24-6s
Style 10, 8 sets and sub-bass, 20 stops, £29-13s
Polished walnut case with detailed fretwork and high top with mirror ``Crane Organ'' on treadles.
Style 11: 4 sets, 13 stops, £24-6s
Style 12: 5 sets, 14 stops, £26-2s
Style 13: 5 sets and sub bass, 15 stops, £26-19s
Style 15: 9 sets and sub bass, 20 stops, £34-2s
Walnut case, high top with 3 mirrors, ``Crane Organ'' on treadles
Style 19: 4 sets, 13 stops, £26-2s
Style 20: 5 sets, 14 stops, £26-19s
Style 21: 5 sets and sub bass, 15 stops, £29-13s
Style 23: 9 sets and sub bass, 20 stops, £34-2s
``Victorian 2M'': by Doherty
Walnut or oak, music desk, high top and curved stop jambs
Style 24: 15 sets and sub-bass, 20 stops, etc. 2 treadles and 2 swells. £52 net.
``Students 2MP'': possibly by Bell (Guelph, Ontario)
30 concave straight pedals, walnut case
Style 25: 10 sets plus 1 on pedal, 18 stops, grand organ, swell pedal, treadles and lever. £52 net.
``Cathedral'': by Doherty
Black walnut or oak, pipe top, criss cross pattern under manuals.
Style 100: 18 sets on manuals plus 2 on pedals, 26 stops. 2MP, flat pedals, pipe top, £80-17s
No stops, £5-12s
Walnut case, £8-3s
Forte, Sourdine, Cor Anglais, Expression, Flute, Tremolo, Forte
``Christophe Harmonium'': Built by Christophe and Etienne and
available in several specifications:
1) 2-1/2 sets, 10 stops:
Expression, Cor Anglais, Bourdon, Forte, Sourdine, Flute, Clarinette, Voix Celete. Forte, Tremolo, Grand Organ
2) 6-1/2 sets, 20 stops:
Expression, Cor Anglais, Bourdon, Clairon, Basson, Contre-Basse, Dolce, Sourd, Tremulant, Fort, Flute, Clarinette, Fifre, Hautbois, Voix Celeste, Baryton, Harpe Eolienne, Musette, Tremulant, Forte
3) 4 sets 13 stops
Expression, Cor Anglais, Bourdon, Clairon, Basson, Sourdine, Forte, Flute, Clarinette, Fifre, Hautbois, Tremulant, Forte, Grand Organ
4) 8 sets, 23 stops, 2MP:
Bottom: Cor Anglais, Bourdon, Contre-Basse, Sourdine, Flute, Clarinette, Voix Celeste, Tremulant
Top: Clairon, Basson, Harp Eolienne, Dulciana, Saxophone, Copula, Forte, Fifre, Hautbois, Harpe Eolienne, Dulciana, Cromorne, Copula, Forte
Pedals: Contre-Basson, Bourdon
3x knee levers
Cranes later sold the University Organ in 2MP and 3MP forms, which we believe were built by Spencers in Manchester, see Chapters 18.1 and 18.2.
Dale, Forty and Co. Pianoforte Dealers and Importers, Cheltenham, Birmingham and London.
From the last quarter of the 19th century until the late 1950s, Dale-Forty were a well known piano dealers on Cheltenham's promenade. They also produced parts for and assembled reed organs.
The original owner, a Mr. Henry Dale, was responsible for riots in Leckhampton after he purchased a part of Leckhampton Hill and blocked a public footpath by buiding Tramway Cottage.
Dale-Forty also dealt in imported and second hand instruments. Many surviving ones still have their receipt with stamp showing that tax had been payed. Here is an example:
William Duck, a native of Bath who was formerly a hairdresser, founded the Duck, Son & Pinker store at Bridge Street, Bath, in 1848.
His first piano shop was at no.2 Pulteney Bridge. They moved to 9-12 Pulteney Bridge where they later stocked a large range of musical instruments including guitars, drums and keyboards. There was also an extensive sheet music section and a range of CDs and DVDs covering all tastes.
Earlier Duck, Son & Pinker were primarily a pianoforte emporium selling some top quality instruments and a few reed organs including those from makers like Cramer [?], Mason and Hamlin. They offered a repair facility for all musical instruments.
The firm closed in April 2011. The Web site http://ducksonandpinker.co.uk and rights to the name were taken over by Dean Organs.
Edwards Organs of Southsea, Wrexham, advertised 1 to 3 manual reed organs with internal blowers c.1954. I don't know who made them, but it is quite likely to be Spencer.
Dealers in reed organs and harmoniums at Harpur Street and Midland Road, Bedford.
London Gazette 18/7/1884: Notice is hereby given, that the Parthership heretofore subsisting betwen us the undersigned, William Hands and Thomas Hands, carrying on business at no.68 Midland-road in the town of Bedford, as Piano, Harmonium and Musical Instrument Dealers, under the style of W. Hands and Co., has been this day dissolved by mutual consent. Dated this 14th day of July, 1884. William Hands. Thomas Hands.
Charles F. Hocking of Devonport. There is at least one Arthur Allison piano with Hocking's name on it as a dealer. It is not known if Hocking built his own instruments.
J&J Hopkinson sole importer 1 Cropthorne Court, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 1QP
There are patents by John Hopkinson. J.&J. Hopkinson seem to have been retailers who claimed to be sole importers for Trayser harmoniums. Several with their label are known to still exist. In addition to the Birmingham address they had premises at 235 Regent Street, London.
Edgar Horne of Market Place, Derby was possibly a piano maker, but also produced other instruments such as - believe it or not - Cornets and Horns! Their advertisements from 1883 mention ``Violins, Flutes, Cornets, Clarionetes [sic], assortment. Edgar Horne, Market Place, Derby. American Organs from 10 to 105 guineas''.
They were also known as ``Edgar Horne and Co. Piano and Organ Merchants''. They sold both 1M and 2MP instruments. However some Edgar Horne reed organs have the Clough and Warren paper label internally. Others have the ``patented 1887 mouse proof pedals'' which were typical of Canadian firm Bell Piano and Organ Co.
By 1895 it seems that they had retail premises in a number of other locations such as Burton-on-Trent, Chesterfield, Newcastle (Staffs) and Eastwood. In 1924 they had a show room on The Strand, Derby. These premises may have become Foulds music shop which I knew well much later.
They probably also imported instruments made by Doherty, e.g. the one in Calke Abbey, see 27.
I received this message from Don Swett (ROS Registrar) via the RO e-mail list I am working on an Edgar Horne (English using vacuum) organ with a very similar arrangement [to the bellows]. [It has] one manual with one set of reeds. Instead of of the coil springs pushing up on the feeders, my coil springs were inside the feeders pulling up. I'll save the old springs and pictures for anyone who wants to do a faithful reconstruction. Instead I'm adding some extra support and using a spare pair of leaf springs. The end result is almost identical to the photo Fritz has on his site.
Some time later, Sep'2007, this one turned up for sale on e-Bay for sale in Maidstone. Dimensions: 56''H, x18''D.
Some instruments were advertised with no maker's name. For instance William Lea's Music Warehouse at 50-52 Church Street, Liverpool, in 1884 advertised the best English made harmoniums as follows. A considerable reduction on the so called manufacturer's price was offered and the net sale price is given below; instruments were also taken in part exchange. This was the result of a successful wholesale business.
1 - New model, 1 row, 5 octaves, bracket columns, 2'6''h x1'2''w
2 - Cottage model, 1 row, 5 octaves, walnut, £5-5s
5 - 1 row, 7 stops Forte, Sourdine, Cor Anglais, Expression, Flute, Tremolo, Forte, walnut, 2'8''h x1'3''w x3'6''l, £7 net
5a - 1 row, 7 stops as above, walnut, superior finish, £7-7s
6 - 1:2 rows, 8 stops Forte, Sourdine, Cor Anglais, Expression, Flute, Voix Celeste, Tremolo, Forte, walnut, £9-9s
7 - 2 rows, 10 stops Forte, Sourdine, Bourdon, Cor Anglais, Grand Jeu, Expression, Flute, Clarinette, Tremolo, Forte, walnut, £11 net
9 - 2:3 rows, 11 stops Forte, Sourdine, Bourdon, Cor Anglais, Grand Jeu, Expression, Flute, Voix Celeste, Clarinette, Tremolo, Forte, walnut, £14-10s
Leas also advertised a large number of pianos and harmoniums by known makers, some also at reduced prices.
Reed organs by Hillier & Co. were sold by Leas and were known as the New Model Early English Organ.
Leas published c.1888 a 52 page booklet with 50 illustrartions : HOW TO BUY A PIANOFORTE HARMONIUM OR AMERICAN ORGAN. With Useful & Valuable Information. WILLIAM LEA, Music Warehouse, 50 & 52 Church Street, LIVERPOOL. William Lea, whose shop the booklet features, tells us in the text that he started in business in his front room at 56 Melville Place, Liverpool in 1871 with one harmonium, which he sold for four and a half guineas. He was obviously a clever business man and by the mid-1880s claimed to have sold 22,000 pianos. The catalogue has engravings of the outside and inside of his vast ware house with hundreds of instruments lined up. There are details with engravings and prices of the instruments listed. Pianos include Bord, Monington & Weston, Haake, Lange, Hollings & Spanberg, Sachberg, Neumeyer, Brinsmead, etc. Three styles of pipe organs, harmoniums by Caesarini, Gilbert Bauer, Christophe & Etienne, Trayser, etc. American organs by Hillier, Peloubet, Mason & Hamlin, Bell, etc.
At one time (c.1905?) trading as Cramer and William Lea Ltd., 59 Bold Street.
William Lea was an early adopter of the motor car. Born in Cheshire in 1845, he moved to Liverpool in his early twenties and over his 77 years, had eleven children to three wives. Making his money through the sale of musical instruments with his Pianoforte and Organ Warehouse in Liverpool centre his focus was always on satisfying the customer.
This continued as his interest in the motor car grew. By June 1901, Lea is mentioned in the Autocar as a ``pioneer of the motor car'' importing engines from Benz. Records state him being a ``cycle and car dealer'' with premises in Birkenhead and when more space was necessary, four more areas of Liverpool were developed.
The William Lea Motor Co. Ltd. Chas. R. Clark, Managing Director Berry St., Liverpool Any make of Motor Car supplied on a 3, 5, 10 year's purchase Scheme. Send for full particulars.
Lister, the West London Piano and Organ Co. of 246 Harrow Road, were established in 1875, but do not appear in London lists until 1911. The firm remained at that address until at least 1938. Lister and Sons were dealers and their pianos (probably organs too) would have been supplied by one of several wholesalers.
Joshua Marshall and Co. Ltd. had premises at 44-46 New Street and 22-24 Imperial Arcade, Huddersfield. These were showrooms and known as ``The Yorkshire Emporium of Music''. In 1898, there were other premises at 19-21 Bank Street, Bradford; Bradford Road Wakefield and an agent, G.W. Beardsell in Holmfirth. Other information was sent to me by Joshua's great-great-great niece, Janette Hamilton.
Wood & Marshall and Joshua Marshall & Co, were two separate businesses. Marshall was bought out of the partnership in 1884-85 but Woods retained the right to continue using the name Wood & Marshall, and did so for many years afterwards. Thus, J. Wood & Sons previously traded as Wood & Marshall and before that J. Wood. Woods finally ceased trading less than 10 years ago.
Joe Wood, founder of the firm of J. Wood, took Joshua on as an apprentice, and eventually business partner. Joshua married Joe's sister. J. Marshall set up his new firm in 1886 and became Ltd. in 1899-1900. He had branches in 8 or 9 towns during the firm's existence but all in the West Riding of Yorkshire, apart from one shop in Barnsley c.1920. Joshua died in 1909 but the business was still trading in some areas of Yorkshire until 1936.
Marshalls did not make their own stock, it was all bought in. At least some of the reed organs were made by Storey and Clark as is noted on adverts from c.1900. There is a note from Marshall to Spencers on 21/8/1906 requesting information or a sample. This is signed J. Marshall and Geo.H. Barnes. They also sold pianos ``selected'' from other manufacturers. They won medallions at Bradford exhibitions and later name labels illustrated these.
Metzler and Co. of 37 and 42 Great Marlborough Street, London possibly built or commissioned both harmoniums and reed organs and a number of seraphines in the early days, see Chapter 3. They were also piano manufacturers until at least 1903. Finally they became the main UK dealers for Alexandre, and Mason and Hamlin instruments. There is a catalogue of their Mason and Hamlin models from 1888 which has been re-printed by Robert Pacey . They sold the model 45 labelled as ``Metzler & Co. American Organ''.
The founder of the firm was Valentin Metzler, a native of Bingen am Rhein who opened a shop in London for the sale of instruments in 1788. The name Metzler first appears in the London directories in 1812, and about four years later, when the publishing side of the business was apparently started, Metzler was joined by his son George Richard Metzler (1797–1867) to form the firm Metzler & Son. In 1833, presumably the year of the elder Metzler's death, the firm became G. Metzler & Co.; by 1838 they were dealing in early forms of reed organ. George Richard Metzler retired in 1866 in favour of his son George Thomas (1835–79), a well known writer of song lyrics. In 1867 a partnership was established with Frank Chappell, who remained with the company until his death in 1886 and who formed a connection with the firm of Mason & Hamlin of Boston, Massachusetts, through which they effectively introduced the American organ into Britain. Their publishing activities covered all fields; many of the songs of Sullivan and Goring Thomas were published by the firm, and keyboard music was especially prominent in its catalogue.
Although the Metzler label was found on harmoniums and reed organs for a long time, Louis Huivenaar suggests however that they never made them and that they became a big sales house. They exhibited a Harmonium in the 1853 Irish Exhibition  which was described as follows.An Harmonium exhibited by Metzler, of London, is worth of notice, as it presented large advantages to the performer, possessing a compass of five octaves, and having twelve stops. There is a machinery attached to it, which can be adjusted over the keys, that permits it to be played after the manner of a concertina; or, when removed, as an organ on the ordinary keys. It is one of the most comprehensive instruments of the class; and were it not that we believe the genuine organ effects can never be imitated by any other instrument, we would say that it would answer all the purposes of a small organ. They received a gold medal at the 1885 London Exhibition for exhibiting a Victor Mustel harmonium, catalogue no.3615.
A ``Book Harmonium'' by Metzler is included in the Saltaire collection said to be made in 1880. It has 41 notes and is serial number 31,348.
ROS DB entry 393
Serial number 31348 built in 1880. 41 keys FF-a'' and hand pumped. It is probably a small portable organ.
ROS DB entry ROS-1958
This is a harmonium with 6 stops plus Expression. It has one knee swell. Serial number 30,354.
It is now known from the research of Michel Dieterlen  that Metzler along with Chappell and Co. were one of the biggest customers of the French manufacturer Alexandre Père et Fils. The above instruments are therefore probably made by Alexandre. In fact their small tutor  clearly states Metzler and Co., wholesale importers and agents for Alexandre's harmoniums.
Morgan and Scott traded at 12 Paternoster Buildings, London EC4. They advertised a range of portable organs of British manufacture. They also published numerous religious books, woven and embroidered silks etc.
Fritz Gellerman noted that Robert Slater and Son between 1920 and 1929 made 484 of the portable organs for Morgan and Scott, then a supply house for the Congregational Church.
Note: it is thought that Marshall, Morgan and Scott Ltd. was a different company. Label says London and Edinburgh. We know that they also sold some folding organs.
John Gloag Murdoch (b.20/12/1830-d.22/7/1902) was a Scot from Perthshire and clearly a good businessman. His life history from his obituary is published on Colin Smythe's Web site here http://colinsmythe.co.uk/cslinks/johngmurdoch.htm. Colin is a descendant of John Murdoch and contacted me to pass on the information. John married Jane (Jeanie) Muir (b.16/4/1838-d.1909) at Busby, Mearns in Renfrewshire on 28/11/1856. They had a daughter, Jeanie Muir Murdoch (b.c.1868-d.), there was another daughter Beatrice (b.1870-d.1955) plus another sibling.
John's original trade and business was in printing and publishing. He had a long apprenticeship as a printed. His musical retail business started c.1863 with J.G.M. French music boxes in the form of a photograph album, and then other instruments followed customer demand .
Later, Murdoch and Co. Ltd. of 91-93 Farringdon Road, London, Melbourne and other branches were distributors. The original business was incorporated in 1883 becoming John G. Murdoch and Co. and dissolved shortly before 1916. It is believed that they did not actually manufacture instruments (althought there is currently a debate going on about this). Many of the pianos they sold were made by John Spencer of London. It is believed that their reed organs were made by Malcolm and Co. Both of these however appear to be wholly owned subsidiaries.
J.L. Murdoch noted: I am a Murdoch, relative of the Murdoch's of Murdoch Piano's. My great grandfather was John Graham Murdoch. I don't know a lot about the company, but I do know that my family also sold bibles, and owned the company which made Silvercross Prams. Evidently all was lost during the 2nd World War.
Bill Kibby noted: I have lots of bits and pieces of information on file about Murdoch's firms and pianos, but there is no great detail about the firm's history, other than the fact that they took over [John] Spencer's piano factory, and a great many retail shops around the country.
Murdoch's first business, the Murdoch Trading Co. of 1871, was amalgamated with that of John and Alexander Dow (an offspring, several years previous) in 1883 and registered as a private company, J.G. Murdoch was the chairman and John Dow, George Murdoch and Alexander Dow were other directors.
The Murdochs supplied a large number of pianos and organs, so many that they needed to be in full control of the production process. Over a few years they acquired a number of well known makers such as: Spencer and Co. (piano makers to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales); and Malcolm and Co., organ and Phoneon makers. J.G. Murdoch Snr. had the role of the senior partner and his sons, J.G. Murdoch Jnr. and James Murdoch, that of respective managing partners. Other companies followed such as Normelle pianos and Rottman pianos, plus violin, phoneon, mandoline, banjo, zither wood wind and brass wind instruments, concertinas, melodeons, symphonions, talking machines and gramophone makers. The large company ensured the quality and consistency of their instruments.
After the company moved to London, John Murdoch had an active social life and took on the politics of St. Pancras, being invited to stand for Parliament. In 1892 he had been Liberal candidate for his native East Renfrewshire.
The London Gazette of 13/3/1903 carries the following announcement: Re. John Gloag Murdoch deceased. Pursuant to the Act of Parliament
22nd and 23rd Victoria, cap.35 intituled ``An Act to further amend
the Law of Property, and to relieve Trustees.''
Notice is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims or demands against the estate of John Gloag Murdoch, late of Huntingtower, The Terrace, Camden Square, in the County of London, and of 91 and 93 Farringdon Road in the said county, Merchant (who died on the 22nd day of July 1902, and whose will was proved in the Principal Registry of the Probate Division of His Majestey's High Court of Justice, on the 24th day of February 1903 by Mrs. Jeanie Muir Murdoch, the Widow, and George Murdoch and John Down, the executors therein named), are hereby required to send the particulars, in writing, of their claims or demands to us, the undersigned, the Solicitors for the said executors, on or before the 16th day of April 1903, after which date the said executors will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased amongst the persons entitled thereto, having regard only to the claims and demands of which they shall then have had notice; and they will not be liable for the assets of the said deceased, or any part thereof, so distributed to any person or persons of whose claims or demands they shall not then have had notice. - Dated this 11th day of March, 1903. Guscotte and Fowler, 1 York Buildings, Adelphi, London, Solicitors for the said Executors.
Murdoch and Murdoch had show rooms at 461-3 Oxford Street, London. Many free reed instruments have appeared with the Murdoch label and refered to as ``Malcolm Organ'', including the self playing Phoneon, see Chapters 13 and 30. Murdoch also aquired the Maxfield company which built self playing organettes.
In addition to London, Murdoch and Murdoch had shops in the following locations as noted on their reed organ labels.
|Folkestone||Tunbridge Wells||Isle of Wight|
As retailers the company of John G. Mudroch & Co. survived until 1970.
It turns out that John Murdoch was an avid collector of British coins, and when sold in 1903 was one of the largest and most significant collections in the country. For more detailed information about this see https://www.britnumsoc.org/publications/Digital BNJ/pdfs/2003_BNJ_73_19.pdf.
Mustel was the most notable manufacturer of high class harmoniums with premises in Paris . We note here that Mustel also had a shop in London, at first 41 and later 80 Wigmore Street. They earlier used retailers like Ramsden, Metzler and Malkin.
They published the booklet written by Edwin Malkin explaining how to play Mustel and similar instruments . As well as being an agent for Mustel, Malkin may have manufactured his own reed organs, see Chapter 26.
Emmanuel Myers, 27, Walworth Road, London, Musical Instrument Warehouse. Myers ran the company between 1869 and 1884, with the majority of the organs said to be made by George Jones.
The Sunday School Union was founded in London in 1785, but really got going around 1803 in England and in 1832 in the USA and world wide. It was set up by members of the Church of England to promote education of the poor . The following advert is from 1898.
The address given for the Sunday School Union was 57-8 Ludgate Hill, London EC. Instruments are also known with a label for UNEX, 56 Ludgate Hill, London EC. Musical instruments which they sold were manufactured to stand any climate and a three year finance system was available. Some were thought to be made by Claudius Bailey, see Chapter 23.
Thanks to Rev. Tony Newnham for researching the following information.
The start of the Sunday School movement is generally attributed to Robert Raikes in Gloucestershire in 1780. He began teaching children scripture, reading and writing. The movement reached America by 1790. The Sunday School Union was formed in 1803 .
In 1818, 4% of the population attended a Sunday School. By 1888 this had increased to 20%, equivalent to 3/4 of the children in England and Wales - the exceptions being mainly upper and middle class families . Before c.1870, Sunday Schools had an important role and taught the ``three R's'' as well as scripture, but the introduction of universal education led to them majoring on scripture teaching. This era saw the foundation of many denominational societies and institutes aiming to improve standards. There are also links with the ``Ragged Schools'' (c.1844) started by Lord Shaftesbury and others, as recently featured on the TV programme ``Who do You think You Are?''. By 1870, there were 132 Ragged Schools with an attendance of 23,132 pupils per annum. This movement declined after the introduction of Board Schools, and many become conventional Sunday Schools.
The internet reveals local Sunday School Unions in several UK cities, indeed Sheffield have a centenary exhibition coming up.
The National Sunday School Union later became the National Christian Education Council. In 2002, NCEC merged with another group to form ``Christian Education''.
Woodville Reed Organ Museum 1M
This 11 stop suction instrument was acquired by Milton and Rosalie Wainwright from its previous owner in Hastings, NZ. It has the usual shop label but no makers name. Internally it has a paper stamp saying ``7040 Jubilee''. After repairs and close inspection, Milton has decided that it has many similarities to an A&E Humphreys organ also in their collection.
Edward Archibald Ramsden of 12 Park Row, in Leeds city centre traded in and imported harmoniums, later being known as Archibald Ramsden Ltd. Pianoforte & Music Saloon. According to Bill Kibby (pianogen.org) the building dates from 1874 and its erection was funded by Ramsden who probably traded there from 1875. The firm became one of the largest retailers in the country and many instruments were imported from Germany, including Beulhoff and Schiedmayer pianos.
There is a picture of his main showroom in an advert from the 1870s. Unfortunately this building (close to the City Square) has been demolished.
So 1875 is probably the year when Ramsden started business in the new, expensive, elaborate building which he later described as The largest stock of instruments in the North of England. Nearly 400 instruments to select from. Pianos, Harmoniums, American Organs. The Finest Pianoforte Saloon in the Kingdom.
The 1884 patent with Baillie Hamilton states that Ramsden was living in Inholmes. He introduced the Mustel harmonium to England and acted as their agent at Park Row. He also had premises at 103 New Bond Street, London where he held an agency for Schiedmayer pianos (and probably their harmoniums too). Very little more of Ramsden's life seems to have been recorded, but he was clearly influential and involved in developing the latest and best musical instruments of his time. As well as being noted as a performer he was also a pioneer.
An ad in Jackson's Illustrated Guide To Yorkshire of 1891 mentions Knauss & Sohne's pianos, and Schiedmayer: Archibald Ramsden, 12 Park Row, Leeds. Nearly 400 instruments to select from. Pianos, Harmoniums, American Organs. Being a large wholesale Dealer, he is able to offer advantages to the Public that ordinary Dealers cannot do.
Bill also notes that c.1894 Ramsden Ltd. were listed at 11-12, Park Row, Leeds and 53, Linthorpe Road, Middlesborough and Tudhoe Grange, Spennymoor, Co.Durham.
Ramsdens are said to have been taken over by Murdoch in 1947, but probably the name was kept and in 1951 Archibald Ramsden Ltd. is listed at 38A Boar Lane, Leeds and York House, Cleveland Street, Doncaster.
It is known that Reeves sold harmoniums at the end of the 19th century and was also a publisher . The business was in New Cross Road, [London?].
The firm was probably founded by Joseph Riley in 1851 and by 1880 was at 20B-C Constitution Hill, Birmingham. They were listed as manufacturers, importers and dealers and also had premises at 25 Constitution Hill and 30 Corporation Street up to around 1906. Henry Riley and Sons Ltd. were still listed at 23-25 Constitution Hill in 1921. W. Joseph Riley was also listed at 56-58 Corporation Street and Martineau Street, Birmingham c.1906.
Joseph Riley was a piano maker and Henry Riley was a piano retailer (for Chappells). Some shop labels say ``Joseph Riley. The Extensive Music Warehouse.'' They sold Alexandre harmoniums.
It is known that Riley imported and sold instruments built in Canada, see Section 27. A contemporary advertisment is shown in Ord-Hume's book  Figure 27, p63. This is noted as being a Thomas Canadian Organ of 1913, made by British labour in Britain's premier colony. Manuals and pedals in accordance with the rules of the Royal College of Organists, as endorsed by Sir Frederick Bridge. At that time the UK importer was Chas.E. Cartman, 49 Avondale Road, Southport.
They probably also imported instruments made by Doherty.
In 1819 Barnett Samuel was born in Russia and later was naturalised as a British citizen.
1832 Company was established by Henry Solomon, Barnett Samuel and Josiah Solomon.
The family and firm were based in Sheffield; they manufactured tortoise-shell doorknobs, knife handles and combs. Barnett, his son Nelson (who joined the firm around 1870) and a nephew Max Samuel (of Prussia) were dealing in musical instruments. Barnett's wife, Caroline, was Henry Solomon's sister. They also had three daughters. Rosa, Bertha and Minnie, who played music together.
They all moved to London as the music business started to take off and took over the warehouses at 31 Houndsditch and 27A Duke Street. The firm became a huge musical concern selling every kind of instrument including harmoniums and zithers.
1869 Nelson Samuel (Barnett's third son) entered the business and eventually took a great part in the prosperity of the firm.
1872 Barnett's eldest son was taken into partnership and the title of the firm became Barnett Samuel and Son.
1878 The firm moved to 32 Worship Street, and Nelson Samuel was given a partnership. He proved to be a force behind even greater expansion of the firm's activities. By then they were dealing in every type of musical instrument and musical merchandise, including banjos and zither-banjos made for them by Birmingham and London factories. In 1878 the firm opened the first English harmonium factory [sic].
1882 Barnett Samuel died, but Nelson Samuel's guiding hand led the firm from strength to strength.
1886 S. Samuel left the partnership
1899 There are no records of when they actually started to make banjos but in 1899 there is a record of the company importing hundreds of banjo vellums from Germany for use in their factory. It would suggest they were already making banjos by this time.
1901 The company was incorporated as Barnett Samuel and Sons Ltd. By this time the firm was one of the largest musical instrument wholesalers in the country and, in addition, had established their own piano factory in North London.
By 1911 the subsidiary company John Grey and Sons had been formed and used the name as a trademark on its instruments. Earlier instruments just had Grey and Sons Ltd as the trademark. The company made some of their own instruments and had many made by the usual ``makers to the trade'' of the time.
1914 Barnett Samuel and Sons began manufacturing a portable gramophone called the Dulcephone and sold it under the trade name Decca. Many were taken overseas by soldiers in WWI.
1914 Manufacturers and importers of pianofortes and all kinds of musical instruments, gramophones and records. Specialities: the Pistonola player piano, Chicago cottage organs, Odeon, Jumbo and Fonotipia records and the Dulcephone, an improved type of gramophone. They employed 200 people.
1918 Barnett Samuel and Sons established subsidiaries: British Music Strings and Boyd Ltd.
1922 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of "Deccalian" Gramophones; "Decca" and "Rally" Portable Gramophones; Record Carriers; Flutes; Stringed, Percussion and othe Instruments. Instrument Case Makers. (Stand No.B.28)
1927 The sales of these portable gramophones was enormous and dwarfed the sales of all other goods made by the company, although the manufacture of banjos was thriving because of the dance-band boom.
1927 Boyd Ltd was sold to the newly formed Associated Piano Co.
By 1928 Barnett Samuel and Sons gramophone interests had been renamed the Decca Gramophone Co which was floated in 1928 as a public company. The musical instrument part of the company was contained in just 8 shares of John Grey and Sons.
1932 The shares in John Grey were bought by Rose, Morris and Co who made banjos up to and after the second world war.
Salvationis Publishing and Supplies Ltd., Judd Street, King's Cross, London sold reed organs for travelling ministers of the Salvation Army. Arguably, the ``best'' folding organs are the Triumph de Luxe, probably built by Stevens, see Chapter 20.
There was a rival to the Sunday School Union at 39 Oseney Crescent, Camden Road, London. A 5 stop 1M instrument appeared for sale on e-Bay Jul'2011. No further information is known currently.
An organ is known carrying the Sherwin name plate J.C. Sherwin and Sons, established 1855, Hanley. It is quite likely that the Sherwins were dealers rather than manufacturers.
I was told that a 2MP harmonium was made by Stonefield of London. It had Estève reeds like many other English instruments. We have found no other information about this company.
It is likely that this instrument was actually by Dutch maker J. van der Tak. It is known that they built 2MP instruments with Estève reeds for the English market and some were sold by Stonefield. See Louis Huivenaar's Web page: http://www.harmoniums.com/sale_5.htm.
Thompson and Shackell were mainly dealers with outlets in 10-12 Bank Buildings, Cardiff, also Newport, Gloucester, Penarth, Swansea, Merthyr, Pontypridd and Bristol. They sold Malcolm Organs among others. They became a big concern with outlet all over south Wales and the Goucester area. Newspapers of the 1890s suggest that they were by then only retailers.
A note in Grace's Guide says: The company was registered on 7/7/1886 to take over the business of musical instrument manufacturers of the firm of the same name. They were indeed known as pianofore makers from 1866 when Samuel Thompson had a patent for improvements in the construction. They were listed in the 1880 Slater's Commercial Directory for Cardiff as pianoforte and harmonium makers, music sellers, concert agents, and sole agents for J. Brinsmead and Sons' gold medal pianos of Queen's buildings, 12 Queen Street and 64 St. Mary Street and at Swansea, Newport and Tenby.
There is a small harmonium with their label on the lid.
Andrew Bayfield noted: For what it's worth we have had an identical instrument in the family for about 40 years... Ours has a label that says ``Alexandre Pere et Fils, Paris'' and the address puts it between 1851 and 1860.
The business was founded in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1867 by William White as a Pianoforte and Harmonium Warehouse. George Sentance, who had trained with a major London piano factory, joined as a partner in the 1890s and the business grew steadily to include shops in Melton Mowbray, Peterborough and Sleaford. There was also a pipe organ works in Grantham in addition to the piano showroom. There are a number of pipe organs listed in the Lincolnshire area, see NPOR.
The firm is mentioned by Elvin  as being mainly concerned with pianos and reed organs. I was sceptical about this for a long time, but finally a nice looking instrument appeared for sale on e-Bay in Dec'2006, albeit located in Hagen, Germany. It carries the W. White label.
It has an F compass, and we estimate the stops are: Bass Coupler, Principal, ???, ???, Vox Humana, Echo, Melodia, Voix Celeste, Treble Coupler, Forte.
White and Sentance still trade as piano dealers and restorers in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. See http://www.wspianos.co.uk. In Jan'2019 I spoke to Chris, who told me he was the last apprentice with George Sentance in the late 1970s and early 80s. At that time he would occasionally still overhaul reed organs, but nothing is done nowadays.