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 Post subject: The dimise of the fair organ.
New postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:23 am 
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I have never known a time in the last 30 years when interest in fair organs is at such a low ebb. Rally organisers don’t seem to want to pay them for going and in a lot of cases see them as a necessary evil to be just put up with. The market for the sale of organs has plummeted and in some cases the display vehicle is more saleable than the contents. So why should this be?

When we take one of our original organs out the public by enlarge loves them. But and this is the but, rally organisers don’t. The engine owning community don’t. There is now in general and complete lack of interest in owning large fair organs.

Now you are all going to jump up and down and shout we are all interested, and there is a relatively large membership to the fops. So if this is the case why is the fair organ scene in such a poor state? I have never known a time when there are so many good quality organs on the market failing to sell, And before you all start saying that they are to expensive the price is not the problem. We have advertised organs and so have our friends without a price and never even get a response to the ads. And these are good quality original instruments with history.

So I put it to you what can be done. If the trend continues as it is the interest will fade by the general public by the simple fact that large original organs are not being displayed, because rally organisers in the main refuse to pay for there appearance. This is also due to the large number of modern computer played poor quality organs with no history which turn out for little or no money. Well the rally organiser rubs his hands at this, normally with the attitude that well it makes a noise and who will know the difference. There are a few rallies that do book original organs and these are to be congratulated for keeping to the true meaning of preservation. But sadly these are now in the minority. One wonders if it worth all the trouble of travelling large original organs or better to sell them to a more appreciative countries abroad.

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 Post subject: Re: The dimise of the fair organ.
New postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:59 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:59 pm
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Reply to Gaudin 98

Congratulations and well said. For too long the owners of historic organs have treated shabbily by rally organisers. You are well aware of a rally in the North West, which used to pay reasonable appearance money sending a note with the application forms to the effect that organs would not be paid. I am sure that this ruling did not apply to the large, newly built, electronically operated continental organ which did appear, at what is supposedly a steam and vintage event.
One of the finest organs in the country was invited to another North West rally for two consecutive years and proved popular with the rallygoers. The following year its place was taken by a new computerised instrument, which
was unfinished and did even have a decorative front. No doubt this organ went for very little money.
In order to help the organisers of a vintage machinery rally, two historic
organs agreed to attend for barely enough to cover the diesel costs. They were expected to play outside the beer tent on Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. They were also asked to play on Saturday night, when the band, who played two hour long sessions were having an interval. The envelope handed to the band at the end was many times thicker than those given to the organ owners.
It is not that the owners of historic organs are greedy. Some are owned by wealthy individuals, who can offset costs against their businesses, but do no feel that they should subsidise the rallies. Others are owned by less well off individuals, who while travelling organs for a hobby, expect to receive a reasonable reward for the work they put in, and it is annoying to find that rallies are booking modern instruments with no pedigree to attend vintage events. If this state of affairs continues I shall start to enter my 2011 Transit van in the vintage commercial sections.
There is talk of moving away from the rally fields and into other events. This may be fine for smaller organs, but very often such places are not suitable for the larger instruments which need a good deal of space and can cause problems with the volume of sound produced. There is also a decreasing number of carnivals and similar events. Friends of mine who had small 31 and 48 key organs used to go to small carnivals, fetes, garden parties and suchlike every week, but due to the problems involved in organising these events, with demands of health and safety, policing and very often organising committees who are getting on in years, they are on the decline. Some events would book an organ for a few years and then look for something different.I have never been keen on playing in town centres, as you don't know who may come round the corner. On a rally field you can be reasonably sure that you can avoid trouble, and there are always people you know in the vicinity, should trouble occur.
So it seems that organs are in decline, much as they were in the 1930s, but I am sure that those who are left travelling will keep going. Maybe some of the rallies have in the past had too many organs and the numbers
attending will drop and reach a satisfactory level.
Gavioli 84

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 Post subject: Re: The dimise of the fair organ.
New postPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:51 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:47 pm
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Like many an enthusiast of a certain age I've been wondering for a long time about the decline of interest in the fair organ. I've finally concluded that what we're seeing now is perhaps the 'natural level' of interest which might be expected at this point in time in what might be considered an archaic, antiquated and even unnecessary form of music making. After all, organs came into existence to replace expensive or unavailable live music at a time when there was no other viable or cheap alternative. With the advent of recorded music, mechanical organs in this country lost their raison d'etre and had to rely on a band of followers who actually appreciated the sound of the fairground organ for its' own sake, helped by the fact that they had experienced them in their commercial heyday. That band of followers was pretty healthy for many years and was swelled by those of us of a younger generation who also came to appreciate the sound of an organ through hearing them at rallies. Sadly so many of that older generation have gone now and younger people now have a lot more musical options when it comes to their leisure time so they're far more difficult to attract. Organs, frankly, are not cool. I believe the hobby will continue to attract a certain number of newcomers, but not in anything like the numbers we've seen in the past and we're just going to have to get used to that.

Naturally this has implications for the organs themselves. Will some of them languish in sheds, unable to find anyone interested in looking after them? Sadly I think some will, particularly those of more recent manufacture but also some antique instruments too, and not just for lack of interest. Many owners continue to have an unrealistic idea of what they're worth. The market is now very limited and there's no point thinking organs can command the same prices they might have done 20 or 30 years ago. Any item is worth only as much as someone is prepared to pay for it and increasingly owners will have to choose between watching an organ rot away unused or getting whatever they can for it. On Ebay right now there's a 30 keyless Dean with a buy it now of just £3750, a home-build with a starting price of £11000 and a 35 key Limonaire starting at £22000. Only the Dean has any interest and even that is only attracting bids...

As for steam rallies and their attitudes, I'm afraid we must accept that there's a broad spectrum of visitors at the average rally these days and a broad spectrum of fellow exhibitors too. Like bagpipes, the sound of an organ is rather divisive, you love it or you hate it and unfortunately it seems more people hate them these days. Add in the market stall holders and refreshment wagons who resent having customers deterred by a 'noise' and frankly we're generally on a hiding to nothing these days. There are exceptions of course, but my rally going is generally limited to the Great Dorset these days and even there standards are slipping.

So to sum up:

Interest has reached a natural level. We might as well get used to it.

The rally-going public are indifferent at best and hostile at worst. We might as well get used to that too.

And organs generally aren't worth as much as we think any more. We might as well get used to that too and, if you're really concerned about the future of the movement and your instrument in particular, think about selling for a reasonable price.

(By the way, putting POA on an advert isn't a great encouragement. When I see POA I automatically think 'expensive' and I wouldn't even bother to ask, particularly when it's often coupled with 'No Timewasters'. How do I know what's considered time wasting? If you know what you think it's worth, tell us! It's the only way to find out if the market will take it...

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 Post subject: Re: The dimise of the fair organ.
New postPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:40 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 8:19 pm
Posts: 38
This thread has been up for a while, hundreds have read it but very few commented. Maybe these points are too obvious to most people, maybe not, but I think they need saying.

On the subject of organs not selling, or going for a very low price, well most of us are acutely aware that we're in the worst economic decline in living memory so is it any surprise?. Nothing is selling, like many I've had my house up for sale for over a year and on the rare occasion we do get interest it's snuffed out once the buyer tries to get a mortgage!. People are struggling to make ends meet and are genuinely frightened of what's to come so aren't very likely to buy expensive, discretionary purchases right now. I don't see how this can be translated into a terminal lack of interest in organs, any more than you can say people aren't interested in houses any more.

On the subject of rallies, well I think organ owners need to wake up and smell the coffee!, at least 90% of exhibitors at a rally do it for nothing more than free admission and camping for the weekend. I am of course talking about the hundreds of people who bring stationary engines, vintage cars and bikes and the like. I used to exhibit a Series Land Rover and stationary engines and can tell you that they not only don't get paid, but generally don't get treated like royalty either!. There's an elite group of exhibitors who expect to be both rewarded and pampered, historically organ owners have been fortunate enough to fall into that group, but it's not surprising that this is changing.
There's always been a very limited space for organs as they take up a lot of room, at least when you spread them out sensibly so they can be heard, so even in the past there was competition amongst owners to get into a particular rally. I've talked to several who have been waiting to get into the ones they prefer. Now that the number of rallies is falling, the number of organs is rising, and rally organisers are struggling to stay afloat in the face of ever rising costs, it's not surprising that organs are no longer in that elite group.

As to the popularity of non-vintage organs, well the bottom line is that the public generally couldn't care less whether an organ has genuine historic value, any more than they care if that showman's engine was made as a road roller, restored with 90% new parts or even built last year!.
This attitude is common place, the public don't care if a Spitfire was built from scratch around a serial number plate dug up in a field, they still admire it, so why is it so surprising that this applies to organs too?. It's always been a very small group who genuinely appreciate the history of a subject and really want to preserve it, but to do that they have to face reality and usually rely on a public who just don't get it. The same can be said for the music, while enthusiast may well prefer tunes that were contemporary with the organ the public most certainly doesn't, they want to hear tunes they can relate to. Play the tunes people can sing along to, or at least recognise, and you get the attention, I realised this after just a couple of outings with my organ and have concentrated on buying music people want to hear.

As far as cash strapped rally organisers are concerned, if it's a choice between a relatively modern built MIDI organ with popular music and an owner who doesn't want paying and who will play all day with no complaints, or one with very important history but an owner who wants paying, treating like he's something special and who will only play part time because he has to feed the key frame, who do you thing they will choose?. Gone are the days when rallies were all about history, they're either money making exercises or at least they have to break even.

What's the future of large vintage organs?, well I expect those that haven't already will find themselves in the hands of wealthy people who can afford to maintain and show them, because lets me honest it's never going to be a poor man's hobby. It may well be that more and more become fixed exhibits in one of the several specialist museums around the country and we'll have to travel farther to see them. The rest of us will have to accept that we're only ever likely to own a relatively modern built organs, though we'll have to wait until the economy recovers before even considering that.


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