Operator's S/N 281035

Reproduco Mortuary Piano

 

 

This Reproduco Player Pipe Organ was purchased for use in the Rialto Theatre in Brownfield, Texas. Construction on this theatre was begun May 7, 1925. The first movie shown at the Rialto Theatre was "The Golden Bed", a silent movie directed by Cecil B. DeMille. This was likely in late 1929 or early 1930. The original instrument had large, wooden organ pipes on the back of the cabinet. The player organ /piano was used as musical accompaniment for the silent movies. There were also vaudeville acts and minstrel shows in the theatre that used the piano. The Theatre (and Reproduco) was also used for community events such as piano recitals, dance recitals, style shows, and talent shows. The Reproduco remained from1926to1962 in the orchestra pit of the theatre. With the advent of talking pictures in late 1929, the player was slowly phased out as a part of the movie entertainment experience. This instrument continued to be used for community events, but over time fell into disuse and a state of disrepair.

When the Theatre celebrated its 40th anniversary on May 14th, 1962, the Reproduco instrument was moved to the lobby of the Regal Theatre as a showpiece of the old days. After the 40th anniversary, the player was moved to Sammy Jones' house and garage for storage for approximately 2 years. He made the decision to have the instrument refurbished in 1964. The Reproduco was moved to Dallas by U-Haul Trailer for restoration. The first person who said, over the phone, that he could do the work took one look at it and said he could not fix it. J. R. Schott of Haltom City, Texas, did the initial refurbishment. He thought it would take a year to get to it and maybe another year to fix it. Mr. Schott was a former carnival man who did work on calliopes, organs, etc. He bought an additional Reproduco Operator's piano unit, which had a small roll mechanism, that he could use for parts. The player mechanism that is currently in the unit came from this other Operator's Piano. The Jones' Reproduco accepted larger rolls and loaded on the right side of the unit. This was for longer playing rolls for movies. Sammy and Joyce wanted the small music roll capability because the small music rolls were still available. The organ and piano keyboards were replaced. The decision was made not to have the larger organ pipes on the back installed. There were two reasons for this decision. First, all of the original pipes were no longer available. Secondly, the sound would be too over powering for a home.

We received the instrument for refurbishment after the owner discovered that the unit no longer worked due to the type of materials used during the first restoration. The instrument was completely overhauled and brought as close to original as possible. It is signed on the inside by some of the notable people who played it, including Al Jolson. The instrument is now in the home of Earl Jones' grandson, Thomas Earl Jones.

 

 

 

Operator's Piano Before Restoration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operator's Piano After Restoration

 

Side & Interior

 

 

Air Motor Pneumatics

 

 

Interior Mechanisms

 

 

Pipes in Bottom

 

 

Pipes Close-up

 

Keyboards & Tracker Tubing

 

Spool Box & Keyboards

 

 

Complete & Buttoned Up

 

 

Close-up of Organ Stops

 

 

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