Exhibit in detail: сoin operated Orchestrion Model “O” (video)

From 10 to 16 June 2024, Moscow is hosting a large-scale jazz festival featuring more than 1,000 musicians from Russia and foreign countries. For the third year in a row, jazz concerts are held at the most popular city venues.

The musical repertoire of the Orchestrion Model "O", which is posted in the column "Exhibit in Detail", is directly related to jazz music.

Coin-operated orchestrion Model "O" is mounted in mahogany veneered wooden case, with the front panel comprised of two parts, with carved pilasters, Corinthian order capitals, levers with signs, and two incandescent bulbs. It is fixed on four movable supports. Two glazed doors with golden frames and locks are on façade bottom.  A plate and aperture for the lever are to the right, sliding button and plate with the inscription ”MANDOLIN/ ON OFF” are beneath. Twenty-two tones xylophone, bellows, electric motor, power generating unit and box for coins are inside. Opening upwards door with glass is in the upper part.  Piano mechanism with mandolin sound effect is fixed below the door on golden colour cast frame with the inscription “WESTERN ELECTRIC PIANO CO., CHICAGO” and number “161281”, large drum with three padded sticks is to the right, roll mechanism with perforated paper music roll in protecting metal cover, small drum, castanet and musical triangle. Counter of played melodies is above. Tape stops automatically when the melody is over.

The Orchestrion Model "O" (nickelodeon) was created by the Western Electric Piano Company in 1925.
Secretly owned by the J.P. Seeburg Piano Co., the Western Electric Piano Company (formerly, the A.F. Larson Piano Company, one of the major manufacturers of automatic pianos, was purchased shortly after it was founded. This move was driven by Seeburg's desire to stimulate more competition among his dealers, who had exclusive territories and really needed completion. Larson, along with fellow Western Electric officer, Mr. Waters, were earlier officers of the Marquette Piano Company, makers of the Cremona line of instruments. It is also interesting to note that Western Electric's 900 Blackhawk Street address was actually the side entrance to the now-infamous J.P. Seeburg factory! From about 1924, until the late 20s (although the company remained a legal entity until bankruptcy proceedings in 1933) Western Electric produced a line of coin-operated pianos and orchestrions, mostly of the cabinet type. To avoid detection by the public and those in the trade, the easily-visible portions of the Western Electric instruments – the cases, the pumps, roll mechanisms, etc. – were different from Seeburg products. However, many of the interior parts, the pneumatic stacks of certain pianos for instance, were the same.

Western Electric pianos were durably built and enjoyed a good reputation with dealers and maintenance technicians who operated them in various locations. In the Minneapolis area, Oswald Wurdeman1) had 350 of them out "on location" earning money.

Most Western Electric pianos used a standard 10-tune "A" rolls and were built into cabinets. Some orchestrions used "G" or "4X" rolls. Few instruments were made with keyboards.

Today, collectors regard Western Electric instruments as among the most desirable American-made nickelodeon pianos. Like similar Seeburg instruments, they are ruggedly built and have lots of reserve vacuum capacity so that minor leaks will not be noticed.

1)The lifetime and history of Oswald Wurdeman spanned a time from selling and maintaining coin-operated pianos (the Western Electric brand) to restoring and preserving the same coin-operated pianos and band organs for the collecting trade in the 1960s.

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