Before movies had sound, silent films were often accompanied by live musical performances. Often a single piano or organ. But what I didn’t know was that at one time there were elaborate one and two person keyboards, one-man-bands, that some high-end theaters would acquire for their film accompaniment.
That is, until Bill from the Virginia City Players bought a few horns from us and Lindsey, their musical director, sent me photos of the horns set up for use.
The Virginia City Players have a working Cremona Photoplayer, one of the last few in existence.
Lindsey built a stand for the horns and keeps them close at hand.
We’ve made use of them in a couple numbers that we do in our vaudeville show. We don’t allow video/pics during show, so can’t show you those. One is a crazy chicken number, the other is of a traffic jam with wooden cars that people are carrying around.
Thank You Bill and Lindsey for sharing your story and these photos. Check out their website for more information about their shows and amazing old musical instrument collection. VirginiaCityPlayers.com. Here’s the story of their Cremona Photoplayer and its use in our not so distant past.
Not a Cremona and it uses a player piano roll to make most of the music but you can get the idea here…
Or listen to an NPR story on the Cremona Photoplayer.
(Click image to watch the video). These beautiful horns, hand made in India and imported with love and care. For your golf cart, mobility scooter, Tiny Car, bicycle, motorcycle. Our homepage has pricing and ordering info. The YouTube version of the video is here. Please share!
Jared sent us a photo of his horn in action, at work on his forklift. The 12″ inch straight two-tone is a great choice for this application as it’s loudness and high pitch mean it’s easier to hear over whatever else is going on in the area.
I must say, it makes me happy to see our horns serving an important role in the workplace!
Attached are two photos showing the new “door honker” installed. It is quite effective! This is only possible in rural settings as the honking would be a problem in suburban or urban neighborhoods. The squeeze horn makes an ideal “door bell” when other alternatives don’t work including wireless doorbells (can’t transmit through metal doors and siding), iron door knockers (not loud enough), or banging one’s hand against the door. A compressed air powered horn doesn’t have any charm. The squeeze horn is perfect! The rubber bulb is “holstered” in a 6″ round float that has been cut out to receive the bulb and protect it from the sun. The horn is tethered to the post using a brass chain.
Shout out to Jan who hipped me to a neat piece of kit readily available at most hardware stores. A ‘plumbing grounding saddle’ or ‘ground clamp’ served to get Jan’s horn firmly attached to their golf cart…
Here’s some close ups of a Pro Connex branded clamp I found locally. All the threads are 1/4″ course, so there are a ton of available screw types and sizes available for whatever application you might have. I’d also apply a little threadlocker on the screw that screws into the clamp.
In the photos I have the horn mounted at both the bulb and stem. The clamp itself has teeth, so I did notice some scuffing on the stem. Probably the best bet would be to sheath the stem with a rubber or plastic shim first.
Mike sent along a photo of his beautiful Janus Halcyon 250.
“…it’s a copy of a feather bed Norton made all by hand by the Amish out of Goshen Indiana. Funny they can produce the motorbike but not ride them, even the machinery to fabricate the motorbike has to be generator power because the Amish can not be connected to the main power grid.”
You can find out more here: https://www.janusmotorcycles.com/
(Or check out their YouTube channel… this ‘How our fenders are made‘ video, for instance. Wow!)
But I think you’ll agree the horn makes an awesome finishing touch.
Thank You Mike!
Finally found a used copy of Harpo’s autobiography. A fun romp through early, poverty-stricken but full of get up and go New York Marx family childhood stories (Harpo was born in 1888!). Followed by years and years of pounding the pavement scratching out a living on the Vaudeville circuit. Finally a few breaks and steady theater success, and then Hollywood and the big time.
Here he details the birth of his trademark squeeze horn ( taxi horn). The show ‘Home Again’ puts this at around 1914.