72 key Poirot Frères barrel organ

We understand that this organ remained in the Poirot workshop in Mirecourt, France, when it closed down, and most likely passed to Alain Vian, a restorer in Paris, who later sold it to a collector in Belgium.  On his death, the whole collection was acquired by a dealer in Belgium, from whom we obtained it.  By now requiring major attention, the organ was completely dismantled in our workshop in 2003.  The work carried out included re-leathering the bellows and reservoir, re-leathering the wind chest, and fitting new keys.  The pipework was cleaned, repaired, polished or painted as necessary, and the attractive veneered case was restored and some decorative elements were gilded.  A considerable time was spent working on the two pinned barrels, requiring the replacement of many pins which we were able to newly-manufacture exactly like the originals using our barrel pin making machine, which is reputed to have once been the property of  the Varetto Bros. in Manchester, who were well-known barrel organ specialists.

The organ was reputedly built to furnish dance music in the ballroom of a French château, which is quite possible given its attractive casework which shows no sign of ever been used outdoors on a fairground.  The music is certainly suitable for dancing to; the sound is distinctive yet warm, not too loud for indoors, with a good string-toned bass contrasting against the clarinets carrying the melody and the bright piccolo obligato.

After restoration the organ became part of Henri Krijnen’s collection in the Netherlands.  You can see and hear it in action in the video below.

Bertrand Poirot, a direct descendant of the family, has put together a fascinating website which details the activities of his ancestors in Mirecourt, dating back to Nicolas Poirot, who was born in 1630.  The website (in English) also features many hitherto unpublished photos of Poirot organs and is highly recommended.  Visit the website here.