1865 Gasparini “Gypsy Queen” Band Organ


To Auction – Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, Scottsdale, AZ • Jan. 12-19, 2014 – More information… 

Ca. 1865 Gasparini “Gypsy Queen” Band Organ

The “Gypsy Queen” calliope (band organ) was built by Alexandre Gasparini in 1865. At one time it played from a wooden pinned cylinder. When the system using perforated cardboard books of music came into use, it was converted to play from such. It was originally a 52-key organ.

The facade is elaborately carved with instruments, exotic fruits and flowers, scrolls, ribbons, and a curious head of a clown representing Comedy. The Gasparini also has five organ figures with very pleasing countenances, include the Director holding a baton in his right hand; four ladies, each holding a bell that they tap when music calls for bells. The four ladies act as newel posts. One figure has a hidden pocket in the back, said to be used to secrete stolen coins or objects. The figures have decoration in real gold leaf. They are of unusual design that stems back to the Italian influence. Their clothing is of varied nature with the Director wearing a plumed helmet, the younger ladies in short attire and the more mature appearing ones in long skirts.

The organ’s builder, Alexandre Gasparini, migrated up into France from Italy, establishing his business at 11 et rue de ia Vega, Paris, France. .

The Gasparini “Gypsy Queen” calliope (band organ) got its name from its legendary beginnings – said to have been owned by Gypsies, who poled their barge along the canals of rural Europe, stopping along the way to entertain people and bring them news of important current events. Their news and entertainment was eagerly awaited and while the townsfolk were engrossed in the beauty of the music and the action of the figures, members of the gypsy troupe mingled among the crowds, and lifted what they could… small items that could be stashed in the one organ figure’s hidden pocked.

gypsy-queen-CD-coverA Gasparini Organ is a delight to both see and hear and the “Gypsy Queen” was recorded producing one of the more popular band organ CDs ever made.

Here are a few small listening samples:

Gypsy Queen – “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”

Gypsy Queen – “Summertime

Gypsy Queen – “Sailing”