Thursday, February 12, 2009

An 1897 Kimball Pump Organ Has Found a Home

Last week in a meeting I learned that an old pump organ was possibly available. The organ had been acquired several years ago by a man, who died before he could get started with the restoration. Beyond the stripping of a few exterior parts he had done little to the instrument. It was in the unfinished basement of his family's old home, exposed to cold, dampness and little critters. The gentleman's wife, whom I have known since the early 1960's, simply wanted the organ out of the house, because she intends to have the house torn down.

A friend and I moved the organ to my basement Tuesday afternoon and I began some initial cleanup and identification of loose parts. It appears that all the necessary parts are here. I have wet sponged every place that I can reach, vacuumed all the loose dirt, mouse droppings and the like, and repositioned all of the parts. The organ will be placed in our basement recreation room until I can get to the business of trying to dismantle and restore it to working order.

These parlor organs were popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They were usually quite ornate and made of good hardwoods. The hutch part, which was placed on top of the main body of the organ, often contained a mirror and much fancy wood work. Mine, unfortunately, does not have the hutch. It apparently fell by the wayside sometime during the last 102 years. Nevertheless, this organ will be quite nice when it is restored.

As a child I saw many of these organs in mountain homes that we visited. My father bought one when he was a young man, and it remained in his mother's home, until one of his sisters sold it some 25 or 30 years ago. Another relative had such a parlor organ. They were popular for sing alongs and simply to have music in the home. They weren't as heavy as pianos, so they were easier to ship and to move around.

Time will tell whether I have the drive to do this work. I am excited about having this organ, because I have wanted one for many years. A friend from jr. college collects and restores the old instruments, so I hope that he will be a good resource for me. There are several sources on the web for parts and advice as well. Maybe one day the strains of music will once again emanate from the reeds on this great old instrument, that has been silenced for many years.


Melody said...

Dear Ga Mt Man: I have a beautiful walnut Kimball pump organ that my mother purchased from a furniture restorer in 1965. It has been in our family ever since. About 20 years ago, my mother gave it to me when she moved from her home, and my husband and I had the body and hutch restored to their original beauty. Our model is in the style of the organ you are currently restoring. I now no longer have space in my home for the organ and am selling it. It is my hope that I can find a buyer who will love and care for it as my family has over the years. Despite having invested over $1000 in restoring it, I am asking only $500 (not including shipping). If you are interested or you know someone who is, please let me know ( Thanks so much and best of luck with your restoration project. - At Home in Augusta, GA

Dane said...

I know of someone with an 1897. It's olid oak and plays but has one dead key. It is complete except for the top coral. Do you anyone that may be interested in buying?

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