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Museum catalogue: Arctic Exploration


Barrel organ


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Accession no.: Y: 56/14
Object name: Barrel organ
Title: Barrel organ
Description: A John Longman barrel organ in an ornate wooden case with five music cylinders, a built-in drum, bells and triangle. Taken by Admiral Sir Edward Parry on his Arctic expeditions in 1819-20, 1820-23 and 1824-25. Organ extensively repaired in 1954 by J.D. Budgen and Canon A.O. Wintle, Lawshall Rectory, Bury St Edmunds, and later restored to working order in 1972 by watchmaker Frederick Hill, Surrey.
Classified name:
SPRI theme entertainment
Geographic area Arctic Regions > North America > Canada
Getty AAT
Number of items: 1
Full description:

A hand-operated barrel organ with five cylindrical music barrels comprising eight tunes on each. The speed of play can be varied by the rate at which the handle is turned. The sound can be altered with the use of seven turned brass-handled stops on the front of the organ case, which allow the user to select which sets of bells and percussion instruments are included in the play cycle. The sound is produced through a series of 11 white metal cloche bells, a triangle and a tambourine. The instruments, barrels, and wooden and brass mechanical operating mehanism are built into a free-standing wooden cabinet with Neo-Classical carved fluting on the rectangular uprights and surrounds of the red textile-lined door cartouches. The double doors can be opened with a lock at the top of the cabinet to reveal the mechanism and to allow for replacement of the barrel. Printed instructions and handwritten song list has been pasted inside one of the doors. A painted roundel depicting the Royal coat of arms is below the stops on the cabinet exterior, and a gilded scroll with patent inscription is at the top of the cabinet frame.

  • Width: 750mm, height: 1620mm, depth: 455mm
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