Magnus Mechanical Organ

No, it's not a radio. It's not even electronic. But it is old and made of Bakelite and it makes music . . . .

This beautiful little child's organ is the size of a small tabletop radio. It's a reed organ, using an electric fan instead of foot-powered bellows to supply air to the reeds. The case is very dark Bakelite, making it a tricky piece to photograph. If you look closely, you can read the words Magnus Organ above the keyboard. The knobby switch on the side turns on the blower.

I don't collect musical toys, but this was just too pretty to pass up. These little organs are not common, but I do run across them from time to time in antique shops. I paid $40 for mine, which seems to be an average price for this item.

I don't have any further information about the manufacturer. I have seen other Magnus toy organs from time to time. Most are larger and newer than this one.

The organ originally came with a songbook, but I don't have a copy. A visitor to my website provided these notes about Magnus organs and songbooks.

From: Dan Levy

Magnus sold a fairly extensive library (several dozen) of song books,
and each song was coded with note numbers and chord symbols so that 
it could be played without any knowledge of musical notation (assuming
you already knew the song). Other companies such as Estee produced 
chord organs as well that used a note number and chord symbol system.

As I gather from a "universal chord organ" book of pop songs that I 
bought in the early 70's, there were two main varieties of chord organs,
known as the C and G organs. Magnuses were all C organs, and note 1 
corresponded to C. Some other brands of chord organ were note number 
and chord symbol compatible with this. In G organs, note 1 corresponded
to G, so their music would have been incompatible. Magnuses, depending
on the model, had six major chords, that plus six minor chords, or 
that plus four more chords and eight bass tabs. Magnus also produced
at least one model of electronic chord organ (almost all were noisy
reed organs, which like yours were powered by an electric blower). 

I have many of these books, but I keep them all for nostalgic reasons,
because the Magnus was my practical introduction to playing keyboard
music (my mother had bought one in 1970 at a garage sale) -- now I
am a pianist with 36 years experience but I haven't forgotten my
"roots." I think Magnus went under in the economic malaise of the 
late 70's but republished their entire library up to that time, so
they would have renewed the rights of many of their early books. 
The later books tended to be concentrated on then-current popular 
music such as themes from Love Story and Simon and Garfunkel.

I have seen Magnus books on eBay, and that might be a place you
could find some.

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