50 Years

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Keyframe Article
A Brief History of Limonaire 4123

A Brief History of Limonaire 4123

by Richard Dean

Restored by Dean Organs of Whitchurch, Bristol, England.

This organ is believed to have been built originally as a 60- or 67-key instrument, sometime between 1905 and 1910. Its early travelling life is not documented but the organ was returned to the Limonaire works in 1920 for enlargement to 87-key. From 1920 to the early 1950s, the organ spent much of its life travelling French Fairs. It was imported into England by Mr WJ Barlow of Cleobury Mortimer in the early 1950s and remained in his ownership for several years before being sold to the Corin Family of Cornwall. The organ still played on its 87 scale whilst in their ownership. The organ was sold to Mr Edward Hine of Shaftesbury, who sent the organ to the well known English organ firm of Chiappa Limited of London, for maintenance and to be enlarged to the 89VB (Marenghi System). The organ remained in Mr Hine's ownership until the late 1960s when it was purchased by the well known preservationist Mr Brian Newth of Coalpit Heath, near Bristol, who travelled the organ extensively throughout the South West until it became in need of restoration. In 1994, Dean Organs of Bristol were commissioned to purchase a large French fair organ for restoration on behalf of a client. After much negotiation, the purchase of the Limonaire, serial number 4123, was secured and restoration began.

Limonaire organs are renowned for their good quality, mellow sweet reed pipework and striking violins. In order to bring out these qualities, it was decided that the VB Marenghi registration system should be altered in favour of a system more in keeping with Limonaire style. After long research and extensive study, a system was decided on.

During restoration, the organ was completely stripped with all components undergoing work and, during our extensive consultation with our client, it was decided that the casework of the organ should be re-veneered with the original type of veneer - this being cherry. The end cases had previously been replaced with red painted plywood and, in order to keep the whole case correct, new timber was laminated to the back of these cases and veneered to match.

Limonaire 4123 in the Dean Organ works
- Photo: © Dean Organs

The Proscenium has been returned to its original factory colour scheme of green, cream and gold. The carved work which was on the end cases was not original and rather spartan, so it was decided to redesign and reproduce carvings in the Limonaire style to match the original centre section, so making the organ look as it would have, had it left the factory in this size. The complete restoration, all the paintwork and front replication has been carried out 'in house' at Dean organs. This restoration was completed during 1994/95.

At the moment we are engaged in the restoration of a large 89 G4 Gavioli Organ No. 32 which should be completed early in 1997. No restoration work has ever been done on this organ and it has never appeared in preservation. We will write up this project and forward an article to The Key Frame during 1997.

Copyright © Richard Dean 1997

Originally published in edition 1 of The Key Frame 1997.

[More short articles from organ builders would be welcome for future inclusion in The Key Frame-Ed]

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