Saturday, May 10, 2014

Miller Organ Company advertising card featuring a cute dog

Cute things help sell products!

Here's an old Victorian trade card that might date back to the 1890s (and has seen its share of wear and tear over the decades). The puppy in the bassinet is helping to advertise the Miller Organ Company of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. It's a good thing they had an adorable animal, because the advertising slogans are not memorable:

Here's a little bit about the Miller Organ Company, which was established in 1873, from the Antique Piano Shop website:
"The firm was known for building very elaborate, high quality organs during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. In 1903 ... [t]he firm then began building pianos due to the decline in the popularity of the organ and the name of the firm [was changed] to The Miller Piano & Organ Company [in 1904]. There is no mention of the firm after World War 1, indicating that they [likely] went out of business very early in the 20th Century.", however, indicates that the firm made organs through at least 1922. It adds that "the factory capacity was 1800 organs per year in 1899."

The most detailed history of the company that I found was this 2010 article by Sue Bowman in Lancaster Farming. It includes this information about the craftsmanship that went into the organs:
"In addition to being excellent-sounding musical instruments, Miller organs were also works of art in themselves. Most were made of black walnut, but other woods like quarter-sawn oak or red birch could also be ordered. With Victorian gingerbread carved woodwork panels and options like beveled glass mirrors and stands for oil lamps, Miller organs were a treat for the eyes as well as the ears."
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