The Milhous Collection

24-25 February 2012

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Lot 784

1903 Ruth Style 38-B Fair Organ

Sold for $1,265,000

A. Ruth & Söhne (Waldkirch, Germany)

An extraordinary instrument in every respect, this Ruth & Sons fair organ is one of the many highlights of the Milhous Collection and represents one of the largest organs built by the company. Ruth, considered by many collectors to be the finest builder of large German fairground organs (the size of which eclipsed those of Gebr. Bruder, the highly acclaimed maker in the same town), produced this instrument. Its incredible carvings of animated flute and guitar players, bell ringers, a bandleader, swans, satyrs, cherubs and angels playing herald trumpets make this an attraction even when the music is not playing.

The fully three-dimensional façade was carved by Josef Dopp in Waldkirch in the "Rheinisch Baroque" style. In fact, an early picture exists showing this organ's façade just after completion, and it is believed that Dopp himself is in the picture (see reference below).

Only two examples of Ruth Style 38-B organs are known to exist, the other of which is also in a private collection. One of the most musically pleasing fairground organs, instrumentation in this piece includes hundreds of organ pipes, duplex orchestra bells, two snare drums, bass drum and cymbal, playing from style 38B Ruth and Voigt cardboard books as well as from a digital MIDI player. It includes a dozen large books and a large library of MIDI files.

The instrument's restoration was conducted by organ specialist Johnny Verbeeck in Belgium in 1996, with a two-year restoration of the façade by Will Morton VIII in Lakewood, Colorado. Formerly in the H. Schmidt and Sanfilippo Collections, this instrument's offering is unquestionably one of the most important opportunities in the present sale.

Reference: Waldkircher Orgelbauer by Rambach & Wernet (p. 119). 204x108x66 inches.

Alexander Weaver

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