Mechanical Music For Sale

Return to Sales

70-key Gavioli Trumpet Barrel Organ

70 key Gavioli Sold

This fairground barrel organ was built in Paris during the 1880s (serial number 6742) and is the oldest-known surviving Gavioli instrument of this type. The organ was extended before 1914 by A. Varetto & Sons in Manchester, by the addition of percussion (bass drum and cymbal and snare drum) mounted in removable wings. The 70-key scale had to be slightly changed to release three keys for this to be possible, but the organ was never fitted with a self-changing device, as were many of this type. The instrument saw long use in a steam-driven galloper (carousel) ride and was rescued for preservation in a very poor state in about 1960. We first saw it, completely dismantled, in the mid-1970s., when we were commissioned to return it to playing condition. We knew this would not be an easy task as the brass clarinets, trumpets and trombones would have to be replaced as the few originals that remained were in such a corroded state.

70-key Gavioli on show - acpilmer.comAfter several years, however, these problems were finally overcome and the organ became playable again. The pinned barrel, dating from the 1920s, has a repertoire of 9 tunes. Naturally, its condition could not be judged until the organ had been restored and to mitigate the chance that the barrel was no longer in good condition. In order to have a greater variety of music, an original 89-key Gavioli keyframe was obtained and a new mechanism devised whereby the barrel could still be played, but when required, cardboard music books could be used as well. To make this possible, the music books are made to a special scale which is very close to the original barrel one; the organ was not converted to play an existing standard scale.

The organ has a sound which is seldom encountered today; a realistic clarinet imitation carries the melody, embellished where appropriate with a clear piccolo obligato. The brass trumpets make their presence known when they come into the music, and the whole ensemble is accentuated by powerful brass trombones augmenting the bass, and the bass drum with cymbal and the snare drum marks the rhythm. Gavioli referred to this type as “musique militaire” – the illusion of a small band is further enhanced by the smart bandleader in his uniform, tirelessly marking the beat with his baton. Two attractive bell ringers complete the illusion.

70-key Gavioli detail left figure - 70-key Gavioli detail middle figure - 70-key Gavioli detail right figure -

With its original hand-carved figures and shining brasswork, this organ is a very rare survivor of the distant days when fairgrounds were lit by oil lamps and entirely powered by steam.

This is a rare opportunity for an advanced collector to acquire a unique, 130+ year old piece of fairground history. We will be pleased to discuss this organ with serious enquirers.

101 key organ “De Arend” (“The Eagle”)

De Arend II with 12 automatic registers and 101 keys.  Built in the Netherlands in the early 1990s. Plays from both cardboard music books and computer Midi files (about 50 tunes on each system). It is currently mounted on a close-coupled trailer suitable for towing behind a four-wheel drive vehicle or van.  Further details can be obtained on application. This organ is currently located in the Littleboy’s Vintage Restorations’ showroom..

101 key organ “De Arend” (“The Eagle”)101 key organ “De Arend” (“The Eagle”)101 key organ “De Arend” (“The Eagle”)

46 keyless Alfred Bruder Organ

Alfred Bruder - SOLD -

This instrument was built in Waldkirch in 1927 and is a fine example of a small German fair organ with a big heart. It is in excellent condition and is regularly maintained and tuned by us – a few years ago we also completely restored and re-decorated the façade. It comes with 14 boxes of cardboard music (each one is nominally 100m length) plus a number of individual books. The repertory encompasses many different types of music and includes outstanding arrangements by Carl Frei, Gustav Bruder and others.

AC Pilmer - montageThe façade was stripped, repaired and completely repainted. (Click on images to enlarge).

AC Pilmer - montageThe scale of this organ has 8 bass notes (plus 5 trombones on separate register control); 11 accompaniment notes (strengthened by trumpets under register control) and 22 melody notes. The melody division has three ranks of violins in constant play, and adds two further ranks to these, an octave and super octave under register control. There is also a snare drum and a bass drum and cymbal. This is nominally the same scale as 52 key Limonaire, a firm with which Alfred Bruder’s father, Richard, had close connections as Director of their branch in Waldkirch. This excellent scale makes 46 keyless Alfred Bruder organs one of the most versatile small German fair organ types in existence and as such are able to play with great conviction, without the need to make obvious compromises due to missing semitones in the scale or limited bass notes, as is very often the case with small German fair organs.

We can furnish further details of this organ on request, and will be pleased to make arrangements for serious intending purchasers to view it. This organ is currently located in the Littleboy’s Vintage Restorations’ showroom.

52 key Arthur Bursens street organ

52 key Arthur Bursens street organ Sold

This organ was built in about 1970 by Arthur Bursens, of Hoboken, Antwerp, Belgium, as part of a batch of four. This particular one was bought by Lord O’Neill and became an attraction at Shane’s Castle in County Antrim, mounted on a 1920’s Leyland lorry. Later, it was sold to Arthur Mason in Norfolk, and in 1981 passed to John Harrison of Pontefract. We extended the façade and built a proscenium, which the organ had always lacked.

52 key Arthur Bursens street organ - AC Pilmer

Much new music was supplied at the time, and the organ was extensively exhibited. The organ changed hands again before being acquired by A C Pilmer Automatic Music Ltd. and mounted in a newly-converted Bedford display vehicle. In this guise it was frequently rented out and spent time on hire at Lightwater Valley Theme Park in North Yorkshire, as well as attending many public events in the north of the country.

In 1990 the organ was acquired by the present owner who has had much pleasure with it, but has now decided the time has come to let someone else enjoy it.

52 key Arthur Bursens street organ - AC Pilmer

The organ plays a special Bursens scale, not the standard 52 key (Limonaire) scale.


8 bass notes: 1x stopped, 1x cello, 1x trombone on register control
12 accompaniment notes: 1x stopped, 1x cello (a fully chromatic octave)
22 melody notes (fully chromatic g – e) 2x violin, 2x bourdon céleste, 1x piston (metal trumpet)
Bass drum and cymbal; snare drum x2 beaters
Separate key for bandmaster

The organ operates with bellows and is a high-quality instrument. Mr Bursens died in 1982, marking the definitive end of the Bursens family’s organ building activities. The organ is still mounted in the Bedford display vehicle and is ready for use. This organ is currently located in the Littleboy’s Vintage Restorations’ showroom.

59-key Dutch street organ “Het Pronkjewail”

59-key Dutch street organ -

We are pleased to be able to offer this genuine Dutch street organ which has a long and varied history, the earlier part of which is recorded in the authoritative Dutch book “Glorieuze Orgeldagen” (“Glorious Organ Days”) by Frans Wieffering, published in 1965. Here, its origins are stated as being a barrel organ built by the German firm of Richter Bros. in Düsseldorf. In 1910 it was owned by a certain Wesker, who ran an organ rental business in Amsterdam.

In common with many old-fashioned barrel organs, the Richter was later sent to the Limonaire factory in Paris and was heavily rebuilt in their style and converted into a 46-key cardboard book-playing organ with registers for vox humana and clarinet. Wieffering tells us that Wesker sold the organ in about 1913 to Gijs Perlee snr., another well-known character in the Amsterdam organ world. He, in turn, sold it on to Mr Schuurmann, a travelling showman from Alkmaar, who used it with a set of swing boats. It was later used on the fairs in the south of the Netherlands, and during this time it was again rebuilt by the van Steenput firm in Puurs, Belgium.

After several other changes of ownership, the organ was acquired in a very poor, worn out condition in 1968 by an organ enthusiast in Groningen, a northern Dutch town. In his spare time he restored the organ and made further changes to it. When completed, he played it on the streets there as his hobby from 1977 onwards; the side wings are decorated with paintings of the Groningen churches. He also gave the organ its present name “Het Pronkjewail” (“The Pretty One”).

59-key Dutch street organ - acpilmer.comIn about 1980 the organ passed to organ builder Anton Pluer, who, after overhauling it and replacing some old pipework with new, loaned it for a period to the Kunkels Organ Museum in Haarlem.

In August 1984 it was purchased by a British enthusiast who brought the instrument over to this country. Not long after, in early 1985, our company [A C Pilmer] fitted the electric drive motor (still in use) and produced the first of a series of cassette tape recordings which were sold when the organ appeared at public events.

The organ last changed hands in September 1988. The new owner increased the repertoire of music books to over 400, representing an extremely long playing-time, with music of all types by well-known Dutch arrangers.

Contact us if you have interest in this instrument. It is currently mounted on a trailer and is ideal for street collections, outdoor shows, promotions, etc.

Please note that our photograph does not show the central bandmaster figure, which is included in the sale.

73-key J. Verbeeck (Antwerp) organ

Verbeeck -

This is an impressive modern organ with 14 automatic registers and three animated figures. In good playing order, there is a large repertoire of popular music by several well-known arrangers. Wind is supplied by a centrifugal blower and there is the usual percussion. Some of the music is on separate books, but there are also a number of large, endless music hoppers permitting a continuous performance without an operator. The organ is built into a special display vehicle but the organ can be purchased without this vehicle if required.

Verbeeck - acpilmer.comThe registers include: bourdon, violin, piston, flute, glockenspiel, tremulant, céleste, cello, saxophone, cello grave and trombone. The scale offers greater possibilities due to the inclusion of a 12-note counter-melody division.

This organ is in good order and is ready to be put to work. It is ideal for exhibition at rallies and shows or for commercial use in an amusement park or similar.

We will be pleased to provide additional information to prospective purchasers on request.


Verbeeck - Verbeeck - (Click images to enlarge) 

Parts for a New Large Organ

Here is an opportunity to begin a large, brand-new mechanical organ!

We have for sale a very solidly constructed organ case, veneered inside and out, with traditional-style removable and sliding back panels at the rear, together with four side cases, painted inside and out.

Also available is a brand new set of triple-acting bellows and reservoir of large proportions, suitable for blowing a very large instrument, complete with newly-fabricated crankshaft. This assembly is fully finished and professionally leathered, but is as yet without springs.

A complete but unfinished new keyframe of 112 keys is also available.

All of these items have been made to a high standard by a well-known and respected organ firm.

These parts would form the basis of an impressive new concert organ or large fairground organ. You could do this work yourself, or we would be pleased to discuss building a new organ to your requirements.

Further details, dimensions, etc. furnished on request to serious enquirers..


92-key Cafe Organ -

This organ was built in the 1950s as a “half-electronic” organ; the bass and accompaniment notes were furnished by real organ pipes, but the melody and counter-melody divisions of the scale were created by an early electronic instrument which was the forerunner of the later synthesizers. These new sounds gave café organs a new lease of life, as these same new electronic tones could regularly be heard in contemporary pop tunes.

This particular organ was used commercially into the 1970s and was later modernised and converted to the Gebr. Decap scale, to take advantage of Albert Decap’s excellent arrangements.

92 Mortier in the workshop - acpilmer.comIt came to England in the late 1970s and had several owners. Sadly the intervening years have not been kind to the instrument and it is therefore our intention to rebuild it as a full-pipe organ on the 92 key Gebr. Decap scale, retaining as many of the existing parts as possible. The large, illuminated façade will be repaired and redecorated in authentic style, with airbrush detailing. At present the organ has a single Frontalini accordion, one of our personal favourite makes, but at this stage it would be possible to enlarge to two accordions if required.

92-key all-pipe café organs are today hard to find and are much sought after, so this is your chance to obtain such an organ, customised to your own requirements. We recommend you contact us soon for further details. This instrument will be suitable for private or commercial use.

[We apologise for the poor quality of these photographs – the organ is currently dismantled, so it is not possible to take new ones.]

121 key Gebroeders Decap (Antwerp) organ

This is a unique opportunity to acquire an example of the largest and most impressive type of all-pipe dance organs. 121-key Decap Antwerp organs are generally regarded as representing the pinnacle of Belgian dance organ development, with a comprehensive fully chromatic musical scale and wide range of musical possibilities. The whole ensemble is completed by an extensive visible percussion section. A large and varied library of music is available, the work of the best arrangers for this type of instrument. We will be pleased to discuss this with anyone seriously interested in owning such an organ, whether for private or commercial use. These organs do not come onto the open market very often, and this one offers exciting possibilities.

92 key Gebroeders DECAP FAIR ORGAN

This large and impressive fully-chromatic fair organ was built by Gebroeders Decap in Antwerp around 1947 and initially travelled the fairs in Belgium with a Dodg’em track. Its imposing presence earned it the nickname “De Geweldenaar” and it became well-known both in Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1981-2 it was restored by J. Verbeeck and purchased by an enthusiast in the UK, where it made its debut at the Carrington Park rally.

92 key Decap Fair Organ -

As part of the work, a brand new façade was made and fitted incorporating a bandmaster and two seated bell ringer figures. It attended many major events including the Manchester Organ Festival and the Great Dorset Steam Fair, changing hands later in the 1980s. After two more owners, it is now being offered for sale. It is still mounted in a custom-bodied display vehicle for public exhibition, and included is a large repertoire of music to suit all tastes, giving several hours playing time. The music books are all in good condition; the arrangements originate from Tom Meijer, Jan-Kees de Ruijter, Johan Weima and others. The organ is equipped to operate from a 110V DC supply (such as from a showman’s road locomotive) or, via a built-in transformer / rectifier unit, from a 240V AC supply, directly from the mains, or a portable generator. The organ includes automatic registers for: violin piano, violin forte, flute, piston (trumpet), glockenspiel, tremulant, saxophone, bassoon, cello, céleste, 2 x trombone, forte, etc. This instrument would equally suit an amusement park, showman or enthusiast – contact us for more information, dimensions, photos etc. Please note: a proscenium is included with the organ but cannot be incorporated in the present vehicle due to height restrictions, hence it does not appear in the photograph.

105 key Gebroeders DECAP DANCE ORGAN

With full percussion, saxophone, trumpet, two accordions and xylophone on view. Also contains real jazz flute and vibratone pipes. Further details on request.


Ask for further details.


Wilhelm Bruder STARKTON ORGAN, model 76

Fully restored by us some years back, but still in excellent condition, with 600m of newly-cut music in boxes, much of it arranged by the renowned Gustav Bruder! Façade fully restored and re-decorated, including gilding. Available with or without custom-built close-coupled custom built display trailer. Ask for further details. (Click to enlarge).

Starkton OrganHear the organ play ‘Blaze Away’ arranged by A C Pilmer.


Large quantity of used 46 / 48 KEYLESS music books – Almost sold out – last few titles available

Mainly by Chiappa Ltd. Increase your existing music library, or would be great to get you going on a self-build project. We also have a few used 46 / 48 KEYED music books for sale. Contact us for a list of titles.

A quantity of old 46 key music books – SOLD

made by the Berni Organ Company of New York.

A large quantity of used 65 key GAVIOLI music books – SOLD

Made by the B. A. B. Organ Company of New York.


A number of original red manila music rolls in excellent condition in wooden holders for an Imhof & Mukle piano orchestrion type “Dinorah”. More details on request.

Original Organ Figures

Figures are available for sale from time to time. For those building new organs we can also supply good copies of original figures, and we will be pleased to furnish details on request. Contact us here.


Return to Sales