1840 Limonaire Brothers Barrel Piano

Studio Piano

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for details call: (800) 950-3774

year 1840
manufacturer Limonaire Brothers
model Barrel Piano
finish Satin
color/wood Other
size 60"
id 2583
1840 Limonaire Brothers Barrel Piano - Upright - Studio Pianos


This unusual find was most likely built between 1839 and 1842 in Paris, France by the Limonaire Freres (Brothers).  According to Wikipedia, the brothers (Antoine and Joseph) parted ways after 3 years and pursued their individual interests. They built street organs, amusement rides and fairground organs and were among the most prominent mechanical music makers in the world.

This barrel piano is similar to a music box in that it has thousands of pins (around 9,000) which instruct the instrument which notes to play; however, due to its age, the pins have shifted in the wood, making the songs difficult to interpret. There are wooden hammers, felt-covered hammers, bells and a mandolin attachment which each give the instrument unique sounds. The motor is a 5" wide by 60 foot long piece of flat spring steel that is wound to provide the tension required to propel the machine. This spring weighs over 125 lbs alone! There is extensive detail in the cabinet. We have provided many photos for your enjoyment.

The machine has a coin slot that activates the motor, playing 10 individual songs. The speed of the motor is controlled by a "governor" that spins outwardly. The diameter of this spinning governor is controlled by a knob, ultimately changing the tempo of the song. The ingenuity that went into creating this early instrument is magnificent! 

The painted screen artwork may be the most fascinating piece of this treasure. You will notice a man fishing on a lake, people strolling in front of a castle, 3 men in a boat, mountains, trees and clouds....it is colorful, peaceful and well-preserved. This art may well be worth more than the rest of the instrument. 

In the 1960's, a reconditioning of the barrel piano was performed by Alain Vain, located at La Rue De Tours Av. No. 8, near the Saint Germain De Pres Abbey. At some point, the instrument migrated to the United States. Around 2015, it underwent a comprehensive restoration by the Luke Piano Company in Littleton, Colorado. It currently is on display in the showroom of Mid-America Piano in Manhattan, Kansas.

If you desire an extraordinary piece of music and art history, please call us today. This is a rare opportunity.



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"Mid-America Piano had 10-12 pianos in the style I was interested in! No other dealer had that many samples on the floor to be played the same day. It really made the difference for me."

Marcia Higginson

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