Collection of piano, player piano, organ, and player organ patents now available

February 16, 2018
Gurudarshan Khalsa
J.A. Bazin reed organ patent

The Archive of Recorded Sound is happy to announce that the Strong Museum Collection (ARS-0190) of bound volumes of patents from the Aeolian Company, the Amphion Piano Player Company, and the Mason & Hamlin Piano Company is processed and is now open for research. The volumes cover piano, player piano, organ, and player organ patents filed with the United States Patent Office and the British Patent Office from 1825 to 1926. The volumes provide an extensive technical and historical overview of the inventions, innovations, and improvements in the musical instrument industry during this time period.

In addition to focusing on toys and games the Strong Museum also collected material that was relevant to Rochester, New York. The Aeolian Company’s factory was in Rochester and at some point the Strong Museum acquired part of the Aeolian Company’s archives, which included the bound patent volumes. Recently the Strong Museum narrowed their focus to toys and therefore the Strong Museum Collection was generously transferred to the Archive of Recorded Sound in 2017.

The patents pictured here are just two of the many, many patents that are contained in the bound volumes. The image of the patent above is of a Reed Organ that was patented by James Amireaux Bazin (born in Boston, MA, 1798; died Canton, MA 1883) on June 22, 1842. Bazin, according to the Grove Music Online, was an “American instrument maker. The son of French Huguenots, he designed a variety of free-reed musical instruments. They had limited influence on later manufacturers, but are among the earliest of their type made in the United States. About 1821, Bazin developed an adjustable pitch pipe with a sliding bar that pressed against the reed to create multiple pitches.”

Albert Boothe musical instrument patentThe next image is for a “Musical Instrument” patented by Albert Boothe of Colfax, Iowa on February 2, 1926.  The text of the patent notes that the invention is known as a “harmonic damper” and is to be used with stringed instruments to change the vibratory movements of the strings.

The finding aid for the Strong Museum Collection is available at the Online Archive of California.

The Strong Museum Collection complements the Piano Roll Collection and other collections at the Archive of Recorded Sound.

The Albert Boothe patent can be found in Series 2: The Amphion Company, Sub-Series II: Piano Player Patents, Piano Player Patents [Strong Museum call number 87.3000.715], Box 17, Volume 2.

The James Bazin patent can be found in Series 3: Mason & Hamlin Company, Sub-Series I: Organ Patents, Organ Patents [Strong Museum call number 87.3000.717], Box 17, Volume 4.



Volume Grove Music Online - The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition, issue Published in print January 2013 | Published online February 2012 |