Wurlitzer Style 17 (Regular) PianOrchestra
Philipps Pianella Model Special

Discovered Location: Reno, Nevada

Original Catalogue Specifications:

Circa 1905 catalogue illustration of style 17 PianOrchestra.

61 Note Musical Scale:

Notes:

Chronological History:

Circa 1905/8
Manufactured by J.D. Philipps & Sons, Bockenheim, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

Circa 1905/09
Imported and sold by Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, New York.

Circa 19??
Original Location unknown.

Circa 1930s to late 1940s
R.M. Stagg collection, Reno Nevada.

It is unknown when Stagg actually started collection antique artifacts, or when he acquired the PianOrchestra. However, it is known that he displayed a vast collection of items, including mechanical music machines, in his "Old Corral" museum, which was located in Mountain View, California, during the 1930s. Then, in the late 1940s he moved everything to Reno, Nevada, where he housed his collection of antique paraphernalia and mechanical music machines in his newly opened "Roaring Camp" museum. The museum, an integral part of the companion restaurant, bar, and casino business operation, was acquired by Harold's Club, Reno, Nevada, in the 1950s.

Circa 1950s: Harold's Club, Reno, Nevada.

The Stagg collection, containing the style 17 PianOrchestra, was purchased by Harold's Club, Reno, Nevada in the 1950s. The PianOrchestra, affectionately called the "Georgia Minstrel," according to Brad Reinhardt, was on display at the Club at least throughout the remainder of the 1950s, and probably through most of the 1960s. Various case panels were removed, and subsequently lost, to permit its mechanical innards to be clearly visible to the public.

When the PianOrchestra was finally taken out of service, it was stored in a leaking Quonset hut outside Reno, Nevada, for about twenty years and was consequently badly water damaged.

On several separate occasions, once during the late 1950s from a friend, and perhaps twice between 1968 and 1970 while doing business as Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., I remember hearing about a very large Wurlitzer "nickelodeon" at the Harold's Club. It was reportedly a large cabinet style orchestrion, but the descriptions were quite vague and confusing, as though remembering the "big machine" as merely one of many curious and passing novelties. An attempt was made by Dave Bowers to contact Harold's Club regarding the reported machine, but the telephone call produced nothing in the way of any tangible evidence that such a machine existed.

Circa 1982: Reinhardt collection, California.

Brad Reinhardt bought the Style 17 PianOrchestra from the Harold's Club in August of 1982. Some case parts and the wood violin and violoncello pipes are missing. Although the original veneer was mahogany, the casework is being restored using quartered oak veneer.

Credits:

Information provided by Terry Hathaway, Brad Reinhardt, Mike Argain, Art Reblitz and Don Pease.

Photographs:

Circa 1912 Wurlitzer catalogue.