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First, read the discussion on value on the ROS website: www.reedsoc.org.
You can also watch the sales on eBay to get an idea of real values. Do not be misled by high asking prices, as some people have over-optimistic ideas of what the instruments are worth; just pay attention to completed sales in which the final bid is higher than the starting bid. The following is a quote from a report on a July 2006 auction:

  "I believe the highest priced instrument, a very nice Hinners/w/pipe
  top sold for about $300. One man who owns a music store in
  Appleton purchased five instruments for $175 each. I had the highest
  bid on a very nice Model K Bilhorn for $150. (if this would have been
  auctioned off later in the day I'm sure I could have been the highest
  bid at $100! Larry purchased a very nice restored chapel Estey for
  $100.00! There were about 15 - 20 organs left with no bids. ... The
  garage contained three or four two manual/pedal Esteys, most in
  pieces. I left the auction early afternoon; don't know if these were

From April through August 2004, reed organs selling on eBay averaged $236. Professional restorers sell them at considerably higher prices, reflecting the extensive work required to bring the instruments to top condition. I don't give opinions on the value of instruments. If you need an appraisal, tell me where you are located and I'll send one or more names of appraisers.

Check with your insurance agent to see if the instrument is covered by your homeowner's policy. Most reed organs are probably not worth paying an additional premium to insure -- see the comments above on value and appraisers.

These days eBay is often the marketplace of choice -- go to www.ebay.com and search for "pump organ", "reed organ" or "harmonium". Another good site is the "American Reed Organ and Harmonium Marketplace, www.reedorgans.co.uk. (I have no connection with that site). You can also advertise in the ROS Quarterly; contact the Advertising Manager Carl Shannon, cshannon@epix.net. Otherwise the classified section of your local newspaper would be a good start.

If you are not sure of the name of the maker or the model of your instrument, look at the Database on the ROS website to see if you find a similar one. There are literally thousands of different case styles, and only a few hundred are shown. The database on this website contains thousands of pictures as well as historical information on the manufacturers. Click on "Database" and follow the instructions.

Lists of dated serial numbers for some manufacturers are available in "Gellerman's International Reed Organ Atlas". Copies may also be available at your local library or through an inter-library loan, or you could buy a copy of the book. Click on "Atlas" for details. The serial numbers are usually found inside the back of the organ, locations vary. Sometimes workers wrote dates inside the instruments -- the back part of the keys at the bass end was a favorite location. Some manufacturers did not use serial numbers and others used separate serial numbers for the action and the case. If you are recording a serial number please specify where on the instrument you found it.

If you want to do it yourself, my book "The American Reed Organ and the Harmonium" has extensive instructions on repairs, Click on "Book" for a detailed description. Advice is also available on the ROS website, www.reedsoc.org and at www.reedorganman.com/maude/intro.htm. A CD is available at that site with detailed instructions on repair.
The archives of the Mechanical Music Digest contain a wealth of information on repairing musical instruments. It is oriented toward mechanically-played instruments, but much of it is applicable to reed organs. Their website is www.mmd.foxtail.com. If you need help there are a number of professional repairmen. Tell me where you are located and I will put you in contact with one or more nearby.

Reed organs hold their pitch very well and thus do not require frequent tuning as pianos do. Frequent use over many years  may cause metal fatique of some reeds causing their pitch to vary, and the accumulation of dirt on the reeds will also cause them to go off tune. If the pitch of some notes has gone off, cleaning the reeds may bring them back. If not, they can be retuned, but it is not a simple task. Detailed instructions will be found in my book, "The American Reed Organ and the Harmonium".

Materials for restoration such as bellows cloth are available from a number of sources such as Player Piano Co. To obtain a free catalog, call them at 316-263-3241; or write them at: PPCo, 704 East Douglas, Wichita, KS, 67202. Another good source is 

As most reed organs are 100 or more years old replacement parts are usually not available and have to be fabricated. Used stop faces and some other parts are available from Nelson Pease, email nbpease@comcast.ne. Harris Organs in Whittier, CA, phone 562-693-4534 can reproduce any style of print and engrave new stop faces.

Replacement reeds are available from a number of sources, for example Paul Toelken, ptoelken@northlink.com , PO Box 25017, Prescott Valley, AZ 86312-5017.

Decals can be obtained from www.pianoatlas.com, from Player Piano Co., or from Decals Unlimited, phone 651-429-4465. You can also make them yourself by using a computer printer -- see www.decalpaper.com -- or by using gold transfer letters available from an art or hobby supply store. You can learn more about decals at http://mmd.foxtail.com/Archives/KWIC/D/decals.html

Yes, reed organs can be electrified. Before you electrify consider that reed organs have survived for 100 years or more with foot pedals and therefore are very rugged. Pumping the organ is very natural and is easily learned. Also keep in mind that they all make a certain amount of noise when electrified, which can be annoying.
My recommendation is to stay with the foot pedals, forget electrifying, your life will be much simpler. However if you insist, be sure to get a unit made specifically for reed organs and NOT for player pianos. The latter are too strong and can easily damage the reeds. If you leave the bellows intact and connect the suction unit through a check valve, you can use either the foot pedals or the electric pump. Player Piano Co. part no. 387 is ideal for that job. Proper reed organ suction units can be obtained as follows:

  • The Lee Silent Suction unit is sold by Arndt Organ Supply Company, PO Box 129, 1018 Lorenz Drive, Ankeny IA 50021-3945, phone 877-964-1274, email arndtorg@juno.com.

  • The Reed Organ Suction Box Kit is available from Player Piano Co. See Martins, "New Life for a Seybold 2MP Reed-Pipe Organ" in the ROS Quarterly, Fall 2004 for an article on electrifying a large reed organ. 
    Copies are available from the ROS Publications Secretary, Paul Carey, Carey Organ Company, 108 Jefferson Street, Troy, New York 12180-4609, USA.

This website deals only with reed organs, harmoniums and similar keyboard reed instruments, but not pianos, pipe organs, electronic organs or accordions. We have no information on those instruments. For piano information see the University of Maryland Performing Arts Library, www.lib.umd.edu/PAL/HowePiano.html, and Pierce's Piano Atlas, www.pianoatlas.com. Also see http://www.stevespianoservice.com/piano.htm Information on player pianos and other mechanical musical instruments will be found in the Mechanical Music Digest, www.mmd.foxtail.com. For pipe or electronic organ  information see http://www.organsociety.org/.

I have written two books which are full of useful information: "The American Reed Organ and the Harmonium" and "Gellerman's International Reed Organ Atlas". Copies may be available at your local library or through an inter-library loan. Or you could buy a copy -- see the descriptions on this web site. Buy from the author. Also refer to the University of Maryland Performing Arts Library, www.lib.umd.edu/PAL/organ.html. Other references are listed on the ROS website.

Original 19th century music books are frequently offered on eBay -- search for "pump organ music" or "reed organ music". My book, "Playing the American Reed Organ" is a reprint of the best parts of several of those old books and includes sheet music especially arranged for the reed organ. The second edition has recently been published -- contact Nelson Pease, nbpease@comcast.net to purchase.

The Reed Organ Society maintains a website http://www.reedsoc.org/ with a database of pictures and information on many instruments. It also publishes a quarterly bulletin with interesting articles on all aspects of reed organs, it sponsors regular meetings where enthusiasts can hear great music, attend presentations and workshops, and socialize with fellow members.
Information on joining will be found on the website. The most recent meetings were the "Esteyfest 2005", held in Brattleboro, Vermont from October 13th through 17th, 2005 and on May 20-21, 2006 a meeting was held at the Opera House in Fayette, Ohio with various events of interest, culminating in a concert by Michael Hendron.
The next meeting will be the 25th anniversary of the Society to be held on Oct. 12-14, 2007 at the Conklin Museum in Hanover, Michigan. Further information is available from the chairman, Terry Jankowski: tjank777@comcast.net.

Another excellent source of information and related discussions on reed organs will be found on the free RO mailing list.
To subscribe, send an email to ro@cdmnet and include the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

Last update to this page has been made on October 22, 2016