Barrel Organ (Hand Crank)
1810s/1820s
Mahogany, brass
English, possibly Longman and Broderip
JJ.1963.1

This Barrel organ, a type of hand cranked pipe organ, was manufactured in England in the early part of the 19th century.  Designed to entertain, the mahogany case opens in several locations to access different parts of the organ.

The top opens to access the organs pipes and the turning mechanism.  The side hatch allows you insert or remove the barrels.  This organ has three barrels.  When not in use the barrels are stored in a compartment at the bottom of the organ.

To operate the organ, the crank on the front would need to be continuously turned.  Simultaneously, the barrel would rotate and the bellow underneath would begin to pump.  This would create pressure inside the barrel that when released would produce a sound. The pieces of music (or tunes) are encoded onto the barrel using metal pins and staples. Pins are used for short notes, and staples of varying lengths for longer notes. The intonation of the organ is more like a pipe organ, not the high pitch bells of a hurdy-gurdy.