The C. Austin Rocking Melodeon/lap organ
Back in 2017 at the Reed Organ Society gathering in York, PA, there is always a "Media Table" setup that has various publications from the ROS, and it also has stuff that was brought by members to be sold. On one of the tables, I spotted this beat up and forlorn elbow melodeon - which is also known as a rocking melodeon or a lap organ. With a price tag on it that said $25, I immediately picked it up and proceeded to pay Beverly and Nelson Pease who manage the funds. I would imagine it was a scary sight - here I am holding a mold ridden and warped piece of junk, smiling like a fool, like I just found a bar of gold.
These instruments are the first of the American made reed instruments, before melodeons were blown with your feet. It was made by C. Austin, in Concord NH, probably around 1844-5.
Once I brought it home, it sat on a shelf for four years, I had no intention on restoring it. Then one day in April, for some reason I decided that I would bring it into my workshop and take a look at it, since I had never taken it apart yet. I still have a large W. Bell restoration to work on, but as I started to take the old melodeon apart, I became so fascinated by it that I just kept going at it. The next thing I knew, the little lap organ was totally disassembled and I was already making repairs.
I suppose this is one of the joys of this being a hobby, I can get side-tracked and not feel bad about it!
Over the period of one month, I worked on this fun little project. Below are 105 pictures that tell the story. Video will follow very soon, when I learn how to play it!