Other Mechanical Organs

68 key Decap Belgian Dance Organ "LUCY"


A dance organ, built by Gebroeders Decap of Antwerp in 1946 and mounted in a 7.5 ton vehicle with an opening side to display the instrument. LUCY has an extensive repertoire of cardboard book music and the organ front is illuminated with multi-coloured lighting that constantly changes as the music plays.

The organ is powered from an integral generator which allows LUCY to be completely self-contained and available for all types of events.

Contact details: Keith & Antoinette Pinner,
Tel: 01692 58 01 22

97 key Mortier Dance Organ


This organ was built by the Belgian organ builder Theofiel Mortier in 1928 and a new dance organ front was added in 1955 to update the organ's ability to play dance music. The instrument is mounted in a 7.5 ton vehicle with an opening side. The organ front is illuminated with concealed lighting which changes colour with the music.

The organ has a varied selection of cardboard book music ranging from dance music to classical pieces and overtures. For events where there is no mains power available, there is an on-board 'super-silent' generator included in the lorry. The vehicle has a concession with TFL to enter the 'Low Emission Zone' for events in central London.

Contact details: Ken Slow, Leighton Buzzard, Beds
Tel: 01525 373700

Perlee Street Organ


This organ was built in 1975 by Gijs Perlee of Amsterdam, the famous organ builder and renter of street organs. The organ was brought into England by the late Harold Jennings who used it to raise thousands of pounds for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. The present owner, David Dingwall, purchased the instrument in 2005.

It has 25 pipes spread over melody, accompaniment and bass sections and plays from cardboard books. It is hand turned and is mounted on a three-wheel Dutch style cart. The organ is easy to transport and is suitable for both outdoor events such as rallies and fetes and also for all kinds of indoor events. It does not require a lot of space to be presented.

If you would like to hire this organ for your event, you can contact the owner, David Dingwall.
Phone:01462 685377(evenings and weekends only please)
Email: mailto:daviddingwall@hotmail.com

36 key Verbeeck Street Organ


This organ was built in 1985 by Johnny Verbeeck of Belgium and has been with the same owner throughout its life. The design is that of a small street organ, yet despite its size it contains no less than 73 pipes. There are three hand - operated registers which bring bourdon, violin and flute pipes into play and add much variety to the music. The musical repertoire of the organ includes both popular and classical pieces, old and new, with something suitable for almost every occasion.

The organ is suitable for both indoor and outdoor events and does not require a large space or power supply when set up.

Contact details: Peter Craig, Stevenage, Herts
Tel: 01438 720592

Fan-Fold Cardboard Organ Music Books


The four mechanical organs that form part of the collection at the Organ Theatre all operate from cardboard book music which is perforated with the information to control the organ's functions. These cardboard books contain all the playing notes and have additional perforations devoted to controlling the registers (stops), the tremulants and other perforations that operate the percussion instruments.

The fan-fold cardboard book is transported through a device termed a 'keyframe' that is mounted on the organ. The keyframe has a row of keys that are all held down by the cardboard.
The keys are sprung against the cardboard and will only lift into the perforations when they coincide. This then opens a valve and air is passed into the organ and to the corresponding mechanism which controls that function.

Marking and Cutting a Musical Arrangement into Cardboard


Traditionally, the musical arrangement was marked onto paper which was laid over a 'composer's barrel'. The barrel has an indexed, movable trammel which could be set to the key in question, and then a pencil, mounted on the trammel, would mark the paper as the barrel was turned by an amount according to the note length.
To the right is a photograph of Mr. Eugene Peersman, who produced music books for the Belgian organ builder Theofil Mortier, pictured here arranging music using one of these barrels.

It is now possible to arrange music on a home computer using the many types of music sequencing software now available. One advantage of this technology is that the arrangement can be heard via the computer's soundcard and mistakes corrected before committing it to cardboard. Once the arrangement is completed it can be printed onto 'listing' paper by using specialist software. The printed 'master' is then overlaid on the cardboard for cutting.

Marking and Cutting a Musical Arrangement into Cardboard

Book Cutting Machine

 The book cutting machine has an indexed backstop which sets the cardboard book to a certain key number and in alignment with the cutting knife. Underneath the cardboard are adjustable dies that have been set to accept the profile of the cutting knife in use. Several knife sizes are available that correspond with certain note lengths and the knife is forced through the cardboard by operating a foot treadle which connects via a system of levers to the knife assembly. 

Automatic Book Cutting Machine

 During the 1990's a new type of cutting machine was developed on the Continent that automatically cuts the arrangement into cardboard. The musical piece is arranged on a computer and then saved to floppy disc. (or sent by email) These machines have a floppy disk reader and, when loaded with the disc and cardboard, will then cut the music book unattended. 

Completed Book Of Music