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Our Aeolian
Residence Organ

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Mrs. McK. Twombley-Vanderbilt's Duo-Art organ player

This wonderful device was designed to play the fully automatic Duo-Art organ rolls that controlled all aspects of the pipe organ: notes, stops, couplers and swell movements. Rolls made for it were in effect records of a performance, and in this way we are able to hear how some of the most famous organists of the 'teens and 'twenties interpreted music that was popular then.

Mrs. Twombley of Morristown New Jersey, one of the richest women in the United States, had it so that “on Tuesdays, when the men from The Aeolian Company came to service the organ, it could be used as a final test to see all was in order” Mrs. Twombley had lavish musicales for hundreds of guests, when a real live organist would be employed (more often than not Archer Gibson) so the marvels of this player were never fully exploited.

When Paul Collenette and I came across it in Laconia in 2001 it had been rebuilt rather cheaply using plastic tube which had gone rotten and sticky, and subsequently colonised by small rodents who did what rodents do a lot of. Most of their activity centred around the roll motor, but additionally, evidence of their bodily functions could be found by the magnets for the “pedal upper” and “normal/reverse” motors. It was not nice.

The following gallery shows components as they were restored, and additionally the fine case built by the late, and sadly missed Ron Hamlin, then well into his eighties. I showed Ron a picture of a Duo-Art cabinet “of simple design” from an original publication, and Ron literally did the rest, including the beautifully hand carved corbels. Quite simply, his workmanship was exquisite.

The player was first used publicly during a visit from AMICA members on a convention in England that year, and has given great joy ever since. It is the player that has played all the rolls on the various Duo-Art CDs that have been issued.

Anyone wanting restoration work done on their Duo-Art Player is welcome to contact me for more details.

Click on images below to view larger

Duo-Art organ player as found.
Duo-Art organ
player as found 1.
Duo-Art organ player as found 2.
Duo-Art organ
player as found 2.
Close up showing rotting pipes and rodent urine damage.
Close up showing
rotting pipes and
rodent urine damage.

Action govenor.
Action govenor.
Tempo govenor and regulator.
Tempo govenor
and regulator.
Vacuum reservoir.
Vacuum reservoir.

Zinc vacuum conductors.
Zinc vacuum
conductors.jpg
Ron Hamlin in his workshop with the case in progress.
Ron Hamlin in
his workshop with
the case in progress.
Detail of the case showing carved corbel.
Detail of the
case showing
carved corbel.

Player inside finished case with lid removed.
Player inside
finished case
with lid removed.
The Duo-Art player with the console of organ Op. 1431.
The Duo-Art player with
the console of organ Op. 1431.
Finished case now polished.
Finished case
now polished.