Seeburg J Orchestrion
Lot 25W
A Seeburg Orchestrion, Model J, Circa 1916, with the 'Capitol Building' stained art glass panel,
Sold for US$ 85,400 inc. premium
Lot Details
A Seeburg Orchestrion, Model J,
Circa 1916, with the 'Capitol Building' stained art glass panel,
Identification number:
8846 stamped to the piano pinblock

With a total of 68 pipes with thirty-four for each violin and flute ranks, piano with mandolin attachment, twenty-two note xylophone accompaniment, with triangle and castanets and a solo capacity to the xylophone and pipes, in brilliantly figured Circassian walnut case, with the panel infils to front, sides and pediment ends, the main study to the front of the Illinois State Capitol building, with trees to foreground, good attention to cloud-laced sky overhead, flanking panels of opposing flowers within check-green and white border frame, blind arch to the triple panels extending to the front with matching geometric crosses, all illuminated from behind, the plain polished case with straight top, eight-scroll column head details to three-quarter height, keyboard underside supports continuing to the pediment with open top and base sides, plain but beautifully figured lower panel, on pillar-plinthed base, on wheels.

With five 10-tune rolls.
6' high 5'7" wide 3' deep

Footnotes

  • References:
    Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments, Q. David Bowers, 1972, pp.614
    The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments, Arthur A. Reblitz, 2001, pp.165
    Automatic Organs, Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume, 2007, pp.55-6, 273-4

    Restoration:
    Reblitz Restorations Inc.

    Footnote:
    The J.P. Seeburg Piano Company was founded by Justus P. Seeburg, a Swedish immigrant, in Chicago in 1909. Earlier he had worked with the Marquette Piano Company, Chicago, in the production and distribution of Cremona brand coin-in-the-slot instruments. Trained in the art and mechanics of piano building and with an innate sense of how to conduct business, he was in an ideal position to capitalize on the rapidly growing demand for coin-operated pianos in America.

    One may suspect at a quick glance that the study on the front panel is of the White House. However, closer inspection shows that the proportions actually match that of the Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield.

    Among the models that were showcased in earlier years, the Style J orchestrion is a real rarity. There are four major keyboard style orchestrions with tall cabinets and art glass: The Style G Art Orchestrion, the Style H Solo Orchestrion, the Style J Solo Orchestrion and the Style L Orchestra. A good number of these are known, with approximately 100 of the G, 40 of the H, and just 6 style L's. The population of the Style J remains minute. Accordingly, it is a very special occasion when one appears on the marketplace.

    The auction offering this lot is believed to be completely unprecedented.
    This Seeburg Style J is an artistic attraction—a centerpiece even when it is not playing. Few instruments have such an attractive combination of artistic art glass and matched Circassian walnut wood panels. The 10-tune Style H rolls, available in the marketplace in recut-form in addition to the occasional originals (the recuts are more durable), are varied in their melodies and are very enjoyable to hear.

    As one of the fondest of all models made by Seeburg, fewer than a dozen of this particular style of Model J are known to exist today. Of these handful left, this actual piece is considered to be the best.
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