Monday, September 28, 2009

Mason and Hamlin Reed Organ

From the collection of the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society (1972.193.1):

This Mason and Hamlin Reed Organ is on display at the House of History museum in the formal parlor.   It is a pump organ, rather than an electric organ.  The organist pumps the two pedals at the base to produce a sound while playing the keyboard.  The five round knobs, or stops, can be pulled in order to create specific tones.  The Mason & Hamlin Organ Company was founded in Boston in 1854 and made reed organs until 1927.  This small chapel-style organ belonged to the Westville Methodist Church, and is like those that could also be found in the parlors of fine homes.  Ca. late 1880s.   Donated by the Westville Methodist Church.


  1. Mason & Hamlin made reed organs after 1927. I have one built in 1938.

  2. @Anonymous -- We used information we obtained from the Reed Organ Society ( which says its info is taken from "The Reed Organ Atlas," written by R.F. Gellerman.

    You're right that the name was attached to instruments after 1927 -- the Mason & Hamlin trademark continues to be used (although it is now exclusively attached to pianos). The original company was sold in 1924 and then the trademarks and inventory were again sold after the Collapse of 1929 and the name was attached to a line of instruments manufactured by a succession of other companies. So, the Mason & Hamlin Organ Company ceased to exist but the name "Mason and Hamlin" continued.

  3. I have seen a document written in Henry Mason's own hand stating clearly that M&H gave up organ building in 1917. By the 1920's piano production had moved to a new factory and the 1874 Cambridge, MA organ factory on Washington St was sold off.
    M&H was bankrupt by 1903, and was re-capitalized by a Mr. Swan, who happened to be a vice-president of the Cable Corporation. Cable ownership and Mason family management continued until Ampico bought them out in 1924.
    By 1921, ads began to appear in the Musical Trade Review in the name of the former NYC organ sales agent (recently cashiered) announcing used M&H Liszt Organs and 2MP organs "Bought & Sold".
    This will all be in my forthcoming book.