Wednesday, July 12, 2017


What Is It?

The Cremona Model J orchestral style was built in Chicago, by the Marquette Piano Company, about 1915.   This was the largest orchestrion built by Marquette.

How Rare Is it?

There were fewer than 20 made.   How many survive is unknown.

How Does It Work?

The music is contained on a paper roll with holes punched in it, designated as style M, which normally contains 10 songs.   The punched holes are "read" by a vacuum control system, that in turn opens valves, allowing the compressed air  to enter the selected pipes and play music.   The vacuum and compressed air are supplied by wood and leather bellows pumps driven by a crankshaft, which is turned by the electric motor in the bottom of the instrument.

The M Roll controls the piano, mandolin rail, bass drum, snare drum, flute pipes, violin pipes, triangle, tympani and xylophone.

What  Is It Worth?   What Did It Cost?

In 2004, one sold for $37,000 on eBay.   The 1915 selling price is unknown, but it was probably in the $1800 range.

Where Has It Been?

Its original location was at the Salt Air Amusement Park in Salt Lake City, UT.   It was then owned by someone in Casper, Wyoming.   Jake bought it from the third owner, George Schubert, in Gering, Nebraska for $4000.

Background Information

The Marquette Piano Co. started in Chicago, building piano actions but about 1915, expanded to building complete instruments, thus becoming one of the first American firms in this industry.   Until 1907, J.P. Seeburg worked for them until founding his own company.

Sold under the Cremona name, their major production was between 1905 and 1920.   They built high quality machines with interior parts highly finished, even though not visible.

Our Stewardship

Jake wanted instruments to play and was not hesitate to bypass "unnecessary" features to that end.   There was a booster pump added; but many of the "unnecessary" features such as treble soft, piano volume and xylophone were bypassed.   We have rebuilt the piano stack, reconnected the original pump and activated the other bypassed features.   After three attempts to get the xylophone playing, we have been only partially successful in this regard.

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