As you might expect, I am talking today about another Mason & Hamlin organ. Circa 1878 they introduced a chapel-style organ they called the style 431. It had as many features and sounds as was possible to fit into a single manual organ, In this cabinet style, the height was made the absolute minimum to fit the action. They said this was to allow the player the best visibility to the leader and the singers. It also appears to have boosted the sound output. The sound can get swallowed up in a large volume of space and some frequencies diminished or cancelled-out entirely.
Since M&H was trying to cater to every segment, their high quality, tonal desirability and reliability were great selling points to churches and other institutions who needed an instrument like this to assist in the leading of group singing.
Within a decade, a few new featured were added and the case style was updated, and the style 431 obtained a nickname, the Sankey model. Like the Liszt Organ model, the Sankey is named after a popular and illustrious contemporary musical figure and at the time was a household name in the Anglosphere. Mr. Ira D. Sankey was a figure recognized worldwide in the evangelistic movement. He was a composer of a number of very popular hymn tunes; hymn-singing had been adopted as one of the pillars of this 19th century spasm of evangelism, as it filled many needs; collective activity, group-building, fellowship, and I assume many proponents considered these lighter, more optimistic songs (that were admittedly quite catchy) an improvement over many of the (overly dour) 18th century hymns in use at the time.
Sankey had at times used a Mason & Hamlin flat-top organ similar to the Metropolitan model. It is unknown whether or not any financial consideration was directed Mr. Sankey's way for the use of his name in their catalog.
I found my Sankey on Craigslist almost a year ago; I started my normal cleaning/repairing rituals, and was interrupted by work, so it sat. I did make one of my Reed Organ Tech videos about re-hinging swell shades featuring the Sankey, and another video tour as an introduction.
So at this time I am pleased to announce that the Sankey is once again playable, having had some repairs to the feeders, a new reservoir, reed cleaning, voicing and tuning.
I am very pleased to be able to report that the tone and volume does not disappoint. My previous Sankey had the later A=435 reeds, while this one has the older A=455 reeds, which are really incredible for responsiveness, clarity and overall power. The rub is that they are so very very sharp of standard pitch as we know it today.The sub base rank is really the most powerful of any M&H I have come across, I am sure this was intentional for its intended use.
The keyboard is f-scale 5 octaves, and the bass/treble break is at b/middle c. It has "Full Organ" and "Combination Swell" knee levers. It is the exact specification that was adopted 5 years later as the Normalharmonium (which simply means "standardized reed organ")
For a complete explanation of the Combination Swell knee lever, see the video.
A demo video should be up soon, so subscribe to MasonHamlinOrgans on Youtube for the latest updates delivered to your inbox or device. :)
(note: this vid below is the talking walk-through, it was not at all playable then)