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Chas Nelson Pump Organ, mid-late 1800s, possible SN 277808

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  • Chas Nelson Pump Organ, mid-late 1800s, possible SN 277808

    Hello everyone. I am a Pump and Reed Organ novice. My 83-year-old mother has a Chas Nelson Pump Organ that once belonged to my great grandmother. So, this organ must be from the mid- to late-1800s. My parents no longer live in their house, and I just met with a salvage/auctioneer to clean out the house and prepare for a sale.

    The salvage guy told me that these old pump organs have more sentimental value than monetary value. Nevertheless, I want an objective second opinion.

    I attached a few pictures. Additionally, the organ barely makes sound right now. Only one pedal seems to make any air movement, and the bellows must be leaking substantially. I can also remember some of the keys and knobs not functioning either, even 30-40 years ago when it sounded better. Lastly, I also have the decorative top piece but it's not in a good location fto take pictures.

    I am located in Murrysville, PA, near Pittsburgh. Thank you.

  • #2
    I am FAR from a professional in terms of organs and further in terms of antiques. All I can offer is
    significant anecdotal evidence I have gathered the last few years.

    I spent many hours searching craigslist and Facebook marketplace in my quest for my Hammond organ (the only vintage organs that seem to hold any value).

    I have seen dozens of these old pump organs people are trying to give away and I they don’t really ever move. My guess is even if you listed it for free you would never move it.

    again, an absolutely 100% non professional opinion, but there you go!


    • #3
      I suspect that restored and fully working some of these are worth a few hundred dollars or more (based on the ones I've seen across the internet) but in the condition you've described, hard to say. Likely depends in some cases on the specific manufacturer (most of which no longer exist), or the features of the organ (how many stops, multiple manuals, etc).

      I've been following this guy in Canada (Rodney Jantzi - Reed Organs, see http://www.rodneyjantzi.com/ and check out his youtube site as he really makes them sound amazing) who restores them as a hobby and I know there are others out there that do the same. Check out https://www.pumporganrestorations.com/ which has some great info, as well as the Reed Organ Society (https://www.reedsoc.org/index.php/in...d-organ-repair) for more info.

      If someone in the family is musical and plays the piano or organ, I'd hold onto it if I was in your shoes, and plan to get it restored (as a fun project on your own or professionally) and find it a home in the family. If not, and you're trying to make something off of it, I'd put it up on a forum or somewhere for sale for a hundred dollars or two and see if anyone bites, and if they don't, knock the price down. Otherwise, give it away to someone who you know will restore it!
      Inspired by greatness in others to aspire to play better myself
      Allen ADC-2010 (Digital, 1983)
      Allen 416-TH (Theater, 1975) - broken