Magazine article The Tracker

Organ Bookplates

Magazine article The Tracker

Organ Bookplates

Article excerpt

Ephemera is defined as "things that exist, or are used for a short time." Ephemera can be movie posters, magazines, postage stamps, bottle caps, packaging, letters, receipts, catalogues, and a host of items that we use for a short time and then discard. Organ ephemera can be recital programs, proposals for instruments that were never built, letters, statements and receipts, advertising, and even music that is no longer in fashion. One aspect of organ ephemera that has gone unnoticed is the bookplate: a printed label usually attached to the inside cover of a book to designate ownership.

The earliest known examples of bookplates date from 15th-century Germany and were pasted into books owned by monasteries and universities. Through the centuries, bookplates developed from simple labels into elaborate images of heraldry engraved on wood or copper plates. Toward the end of the 19th century, pictorial bookplates became popular. These featured images of library interiors, gardens, or subject matter relating to the owner's profession or interests.

Illustrated here are eight examples of bookplates that were used by organists in their books and music albums. Although each is different in concept and execution, they lend provenance to the owners' printed material and celebrate the King of Instruments.

The bookplate of Harold Chandler Kimball (1861-1911) was reproduced from a pen and ink drawing by artist Wilbur Macey Stone and features a flat of organ pipes surrounded by an elaborate framework. Kimball was a member of a wealthy family associated with the American Tobacco Company. Active in the politics of his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., he was organist and choirmaster at St. Andrew's Church, Rochester, where he played a twomanual Roosevelt organ (No. 12). In his home, Kimball had a three-manual, 46-rank Roosevelt (No. 93), equipped with electric action that allowed divisions of the instrument to be distributed on several levels around the main staircase. The console was on a small gallery projecting from a section of the stairs.

Dr. Aton Gatscha (1883-1922) was a Czech organist and composer who died in Vienna, Austria. His wood engraved bookplate holds a bold image of a five-section organ case surrounded by abstract elements of snow-topped mountains.

An elaborately decorated bookplate for Pasadena, Calif., physician and organist Raymond B. Mixsell (18821949) was reproduced from a pen and ink drawing by artist Ben Krutcher. At the center of the plate is the image of a large organ case taken from the design of the organ of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Perpigan, France.1 In the surrounding areas are books and a book press, indicating Mixsell's interest in fine books and book bindings. Mixsell had an organ in his home, originally built by the California Organ Company in 1915, and enlarged twice by Aeolian-Skinner into an instrument of four manuals and 54 ranks (Op. …

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