The Roller Organ Cob Handbook

by Richard Dutton1)

Twenty-Note Cobs

Cobs #101-200


In contrast to the hymn tunes on cobs #1-100, the tunes on the next one hundred cobs are all of a non-religious nature and are of many different types: songs popular during the Civil War, which ended only twenty years before the roller organ era began, most notably cob #109, “Marching Through Georgia”; old chestnuts such as #123, “Home, Sweet Home”, #126, “Auld Lang Syne”, #146, “Annie Laurie”, #156, “Listen to the Mocking Bird” and #190, “Yankee Doodle”; dance tunes—waltzes, polkas, reels, quadrilles, galops and a hornpipe—some of them very familiar pieces by famous composers such as Johann Strauss II's waltz, #155, “The Beautiful Blue Danube”, which has been described as probably the best-known waltz in the world, but many of them by lesser-known and in some cases even unidentified composers; Stephen Foster songs such as #121, “Old Folks at Home”, and the lesser-known #112, “Old Uncle Ned”; the only four Gilbert & Sullivan songs on 20-note roller organ cobs, #133, “Policemen's Chorus” from “The Pirates of Penzance” and #160, “Flowers that Bloom”, #177, “He's Going to Marry” and #178, “I've Got Him on my List”, all from “The Mikado”; pieces by Ireland's national poet, Thomas Moore, #149, “The Last Rose of Summer”, #165, “The Minstrel Boy”, and #186, “Oft in the Stilly Night”; songs included for the large German-American immigrant population at the time, such as #128, “Die Lorelei”, and #162, “Du, Du Liegst Mir im Herzen”; three pieces from what has been called “the first commercially successful American operetta”, “The Little Tycoon”, #192, “When I was a Boy”, #193, “Irish Valet's Song”, and #196, “Love Comes”; a few now-unfamiliar marches; a handful of classical and operatic pieces such as #117, “Boccherini Minuet”, #137 and #188, tunes from Verdi's “Il Trovatore”, and #134 and #157, tunes from Balfe's “The Bohemian Girl”; and a host of songs, some quite pretty, all of which were presumably once at least somewhat popular but many of which have now faded into obscurity. All in all, they constitute a great sampling of the music that was current in America of 1885 and include many appealing and harmonious arrangements of very pretty pieces that, when played, show off the roller organ well. As with the hymn cobs, it is a great pleasure to crank through these cobs and listen to them!

I have been able to locate information about almost ninety percent of the tunes in this numerical range. The remaining ones are entirely instrumental pieces rather than songs. A few are marches with generic-sounding names such as “The Parade March” (cob #138) and “The Cadets' March” (cob 198). The others are all dance tunes. Perhaps some of these pieces appeared in the many collections of music arranged for home pianists that were so popular in the early part of the roller organ era.

There has now been a hiatus of several years since I wrote the General Introduction to this Handbook and prepared the writeups for cobs #1-100. At that time, I expressed concern about the reliability of much of the information on Internet websites about tunes on the roller organ and the individuals who wrote such tunes. In the interim, the volume of such information seems to have increased exponentially and, in addition, there are now available for perusal on the Internet as references entire books about popular music that could previously be consulted only as “hard copies” either in select libraries or after purchasing them. Having now updated my previous research concerning cobs #101-200 by using these additional sources, I am sorry to report that I have come across so many inaccurate and inconsistent statements in books recently that I have come to change my mind about the published word generally being significantly more authoritative than statements on Internet websites.

To give an example of contradictory “facts” about writers and composers of pieces on the roller organ stated authoritatively both in books and on websites, in tracking down information about the author of the lyrics (Meta Orred) and the composer of the tune (Annie Fortescue Harrison) of “In the Gloaming” (cob #131), first I noted that the birthdates given for both of them were inconsistent from source to source: Orred is sometimes reported as having been born in 1845 and sometimes in 1846 and, likewise, Harrison is sometimes reported as having been born in 1850 and sometimes in 1851. I suppose one could overlook minor differences like this as being, in the overall picture, not that significant. Also, this sort of inconsistency is understandable because, in locating information about someone who played a part in 19th century popular music, birthdates, by necessity, are generally not determined from birth records, but rather from obituary notices or other biographical information written after a person's death, and if an article written upon someone's death in, say, 1918 says that a person died at age 56, the person could have been born in either 1861 or 1862, depending upon whether he or she had attained his 1918 birthday by the time of his or her death. Another error, however, that appears in many sources is the statement that Meta Orred died in 1953 (giving no birth year for her); other sources give a death date of 1925, which would be more consistent with a birth year of 1845 or 1846. As a complete copy of her 1874 book Poems, in which “In the Gloaming” appeared, can be viewed online as evidence that she wrote the lyrics to that song no later than in that year, if she died in 1953 even if she lived to be as old as 100 she would have had to have written the more than three dozen poems in her book and then had them published before she was 21, which seems very unlikely. Finally, I came across one book whose author confused “In the Gloaming”, which is a sentimental drawing-room ballad, with the much later rollicking song “Roaming in the Gloaming”, sung and recorded by Scottish comedian and singer Harry Lauder, and then went on to say that it was popularized by Lauder in 1874, the year Orred's poems were published, even though Lauder would have been only four years old at that time! Errors like this can be expected to result in the spreading of misinformation, create confusion and make it harder for future researchers to determine the true details. Therefore, I advise anyone who wishes to do further research of his or her own concerning music on the roller organ to be wary of secondary sources, both in books and on websites, and instead concentrate, as I have, on sheet music published during the roller organ era (with the caveat that it sometimes includes the name of an arranger rather than the composer and the copyright date of the arrangement rather than of the original piece) and newspaper articles, obituary notices and other biographical information all from that time. Even sources like these, however, are far from infallible and contain many incorrect statements and inconsistencies.

A note on scarcity: As in the case of cobs #1-100, it is certainly possible, although not easy, to collect a complete set of cobs #101-200. Many cobs in this range contain very familiar and popular tunes and were undoubtedly sold in large quantities. Also, because the non-hymn cobs, just as the hymn cobs, were issued in numerical order, cobs #101-200 were available for purchase for a longer period of time than the higher numbered cobs. While it is true that about 2/3 of them are in the “LC” (“Less Common”) category, only two have a scarcity rating of “S” (“Scarce”), #143, “Chorus from Castor and Pollux”, an obscure classical piece by 18th century French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, and, more surprisingly, #178, the Gilbert & Sullivan tune “I've Got Him on my List”, from “The Mikado”.


#101 - Waltz—Les Roses, Scarcity: C
This waltz was undoubtedly very popular about 135 years ago to have been chosen as the first non-hymn to be put onto a roller organ cob. It was composed by Olivier Metra (1830-1889), a French violinist, composer and conductor who led orchestras in a number of Parisian dance halls and later conducted at the Folies-Bergere. He had a home called “Villa des Roses” (presumably named for his most popular composition) built along the River Seine at Bois-le-Roi and is buried in the cemetery in that village. An article in the May 16, 1880 edition of the New York Times reported that “Les Roses” was the only waltz by Metra known outside his native France. Some labels for this cob, as well as the list of available cobs that appeared in the 1885 Peck & Snyder catalog (PS; reproduced at in the “Original Advertising” section), create some confusion as to the composer of this waltz by including the name “Richter” following the title. English organette expert Kevin McElhone's online list of titles of discs that appeared on the Ariston organette attributes this piece and several others to either “Cl. Richter” or “Clemens Richter”. Richter (about whom I have been unable to find any further information) may have been the arranger. Additional references: MN, OC.

#102 - Polka—La Bonne Bouche, Scarcity: LC
This lively dance tune is the first of several pieces on the roller organ by another French composer, Emile Waldteufel (real name: Charles Emile Levy; 1837-1915), better remembered for his waltzes, including “Skaters' Waltz” (1882), which for some reason did not find its way onto the roller organ despite its great popularity, and “Estudiantina Waltz” (1883)(cob #457). Waldteufel, who was born in Strasbourg, was a pianist and piano teacher in Paris who initially published his own compositions and became a popular performer at society events. While still in his twenties, he was selected to be court pianist to Empress Eugenie and court music director. His music was widely popular in England and the United States as well as France. “La Bonne Bouche” is literally translated “The Pretty Mouth”. References: PS, MN (under the name “Bella Bocca Polka”), OC.

#103 - When the Swallows Homeward Fly, Scarcity: C
This 1846 song is the first of several drawing-room ballads on the roller organ by German lyricist, composer and choral conductor Franz Abt (1819-1885). Its original German title was “Wenn die Schwalben heimwahrts zieh'n”. Abt, born in Eilenburg in Prussian Saxony, wrote an enormous number of songs and was kapellmeister at Bernburg and Zurich (1841) and the leading kapellmeister at the Hoftheater at Brunswick (Braunschweig) for thirty years beginning in 1852. Some of his songs became quite popular in the United States and he was warmly received, especially by German-American choral societies, during a lengthy tour here in 1872. This song also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob #2127. References: GD, OC, MN (general discussion), New York Times, May 19, 1872.

#104 - The Blue Alsatian Mountains, Scarcity: C
The lyrics to this song in waltz time were written by “Claribel”, the pen name of Charlotte (Alington) Barnard (1830-1869), an English songwriter better remembered for the sentimental Irish emigration song, “Come Back to Erin” (cob #392). They tell of an Alsatian maiden who meets a stranger who has come “just to whisper in the moonlight words, the sweetest she had known”, but he departs, never to return and she withers “like a flower that is waiting for the rain”. The music was written by “Stephen Adams”, the pen name of Michael Maybrick (1844-1913), an English baritone performer who was born in Liverpool and studied music in Leipzig and singing in Milan. In 1884, he toured the United States giving performances that presumably included this song. He also wrote the music to “The Holy City” (cob #1128) and “Nancy Lee” (on Grand cob #2120). References: MN, OC.

#105 - Waltz—Blue Violets, Scarcity: C
PS lists the composer of this slow waltz tune as “Coote” and MN includes sheet music for “Blue Violet Waltzes” with this tune, showing the composer as “C. Coote”. This must be either Charles Coote, Jr. (1831-1916) or, conceivably, his father, Charles Coote (1808-1880); both were prolific composers of dance music and, unfortunately, the sources of information about them often do not clearly distinguish between them. The elder Coote founded the very popular English society orchestra, the Coote and Tinney Band, in 1848 and the younger Coote continued to direct it following his father's death. Beginning in 1875, Coote Jr. also held a controlling interest in the music publishing company of Hopwood & Crew, which had a contract with Emile Waldteufel (see notes to cob #102) to publish his compositions. Additional references: OC, May 22, 1880 edition of South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail (containing obituary article about Charles Coote).

#106 - The Soldier's Joy, Scarcity: C
A number of dance tunes on the roller organ were traditional folk pieces of unknown authorship. This one is a lively reel that is played for dancing in the folk traditions of England, Scotland and Ireland as well as the United States. For example, in England, William Kimber (1872-1961), the Anglo concertina player and Morris dancer, played and recorded it; set as a hornpipe, it appears as #1642 of the 1,850 traditional tunes Captain Francis O'Neill (of the Chicago Police Department; 1848-1936) collected as O'Neill's Music of Ireland (1903); and in the southern United States, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers recorded a version of it with nonsense words in the 1920s.

#107 - When the Leaves Begin to Fade, Scarcity: LC
J. Albert Snow was the composer of this pretty but forgotten waltz song, and Frank H. Evans wrote the lyrics. Sheet music in MN and LL contains a copyright date for the piece of 1882. The words are sung by a woman who is expecting her love to come “from a distant foreign shore” in the autumn to claim her for his bride.

#108 - Sweet Violets, Scarcity: LC
This is still another waltz song, hauntingly pretty in the roller organ arrangement. The words and music were written in 1882 by J. K. (Joseph Kline) Emmet (1841-1891), who sang the song himself in a musical called “Fritz Among the Gypsies” that opened in New York on January 1, 1883. It was one of a series of very popular “Fritz” plays starring the hard-drinking but beloved Emmet in which he played a comic “Dutch” (that is, German) character and the highlights of the production, according to an advertisement for it in the January 27, 1883 edition of Music and Drama, were apparently the song “Sweet Violets” and the appearance on stage of “the $2,500 sagacious Giant Dog” (Emmet's enormous Saint Bernard, named Bayard). Reference: MN, NC, October 4, 1883 edition of the New York Times.

#109 - Marching Through Georgia, Scarcity: MC
This spirited 1865 song is one of the five most common cobs on the roller organ; every group of cobs of any size seems to include at least one copy of it. Both the words and music are by Henry Clay Work (1832-1884), a printer by trade who lived in Chicago and specialized in setting type for music. He became a protege of George F. Root of the Root & Cady Publishing Company (see notes to cob #10) and wrote a number of songs during the Civil War years. The lyrics refer to the devastatingly destructive “march to the sea” in 1864 by the Union Army troops led by General William Tecumseh Sherman. Work was also the author and composer of the well-known 1876 popular song “Grandfather's Clock” (cob #272). “Marching Through Georgia” also appeared as part of the “Patriotic Medley” on Grand cob #2140. Reference: OC

#110 - Victoria Polonaise, Scarcity: LC
PS lists “Richter” following the title of this cob, and in Kevin McElhone's aforementioned list of tunes on Ariston discs, the title also appears with the name “Richter, Clemens”. It is not clear whether Clemens Richter (about whom no information has been located) was the composer or merely the arranger of this piece (see notes to cob #101). The polonaise is a dance that originated in Poland and many polonaises were written by the great Polish-born classical pianist and composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849); however, I have not found any reference to a “Victoria Polonaise” among his works. Like most of the other roller organ cobs containing tunes of a classical nature, this one is uncommon; many roller organ owners were farmers and small-town residents in middle America who ordered organs and cobs from the Sears Roebuck catalog and similar sources and preferred familiar hymns and popular songs of the day. Reference: GD.


#111 - Waltz—My Queen, Scarcity: LC
As with cob #105, PS lists the composer of this pretty waltz tune as “Coote”. In fact, as shown in the sheet music in MN for the tune, Charles Coote, Jr. (1831-1916) was the arranger; the composer was his also very prolific contemporary in the London musical scene, Procida Bucalossi (1832-1918), who specialized in lancier and quadrille arrangements of Gilbert & Sullivan music (see notes to Grand cobs #2065 and 2066). According to an interview of Bucalossi in Vol. 2 of the Strand Musical Magazine (July-December 1895), which also contains an interview of Coote and photographs of both composers, Bucalossi composed “My Queen” while on the Isle of Wight in 1881.

#112 - Old Uncle Ned, Scarcity: LC
[With regard to this cob, see the WARNING AND HISTORICAL CONTENT DISCLAIMER about songs containing offensive language or negative stereotypes at the end of the General Introduction to this Handbook.] This song dates from 1848 and is the first of several songs on the roller organ by the beloved American songwriter Stephen (Collins) Foster (1826-1864), who is better known for “Old Folks at Home” [“Swanee River”](cob #121), “Old Black Joe” (cob #262), “Oh! Susanna” (cob #274) and “My Old Kentucky Home” (cob #1069), all of which rank among the very most popular American songs of all time. Born near Pittsburgh, Foster worked in his brother's grocery business in Cincinnati as a bookkeeper and only later was able to make a living from royalties for his music. He was impecunious, drank heavily and died at the age of 37 in a hotel on the Bowery in New York City. The context of this song, like many of Foster's, is the pre-Civil War rural south; Uncle Ned, the subject of the song, is an elderly African-American slave. References: OC, MN, GD.

#113 - Austrian National Hymn, Scarcity: LC
This familiar and powerful hymn tune by Austrian classical composer Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809) dates from 1797. It has negative associations for many because of its use in Adolf Hitler's Germany as the tune for the Nazi national hymn “Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles” (“Germany, Germany Over All”). It is also, however, the tune used for the well-known 1779 religious hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”, written by one-time slave trader and later preacher John Newton (1725-1807), who also wrote the words to “Amazing Grace” (see notes to cobs #37 and 38). References: MH #382, CL.

#114 - Waltz—Tres Jolie, Scarcity: LC
This familiar and pretty waltz tune is another composition by “Parisian waltz king” Emile Waldteufel (1837-1915)(see notes to cob #102). Reference: PS, MN.

#115 - Climbing up the Golden Stairs, Scarcity: VC
The words and music of this 1884 minstrel-style song were written by Monroe H. Rosenfeld (1862-1918) and were published using one of his pseudonyms, “F. Heiser”. Rosenfeld was a New York newspaper columnist who wrote on topics relating to popular music in addition to being a prolific songwriter in his own right and he is credited with originating the name “Tin Pan Alley” for the area along West 28th Street in Manhattan where songwriters' and composers' offices were located and the sound of jangling pianos could in warm weather be heard out in the street. Many of the Tin Pan Alley songs found their way onto roller organ cobs. References: LL, OC, New York Times edition of December 14, 1918.

#116 - Waltz—Good News, Scarcity: LC
This pretty waltz is one of the more appealing and interesting ones on the roller organ and stands out among the very large number of in many cases similar and uninspired waltz tunes that found their way onto cobs. One wonders who bought all of them. PS does not list any composer for this tune and, so far, I have been unable to find any information about it. Apart from very prolific composers of waltzes whose works have been catalogued like the Strausses (see notes to cob #119) and Waldteufel (see notes to cob #102), there were an enormous number of new waltzes written all the time in the Victorian era by lesser-known but equally productive writers like the Cootes and Bucalossi (see notes to cobs #105 and 111), about whom very little information can now be located. It is possible that sheet music for “Waltz - Good News” will turn up, but (as seen in the discussions of several previous cobs) the person shown as the author of a tune in sheet music is often merely an arranger, and the copyright date shown is often just the date of the arrangement, not the date the tune was originally created.

#117 - Boccherini Minuet, Scarcity: LC
This is another less common cob containing a familiar classical piece, the Minuet from Quintet No. 5 in E (from 6 Quintets, op. 13), probably the best-known composition of Italian composer Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805). The minuet is a very old dance of French origin that was adapted and incorporated into the works of a number of classical composers. Reference: GD.

#118 - Meet Me in the Lovely Twilight, Scarcity: LC
The sheet music to this pretty but forgotten song appears in MN. The words were written by Theo. D. C. Miller, M.D., the music was composed by Samuel H. Speck, and the piece dates from 1876. In it, the singer simply invites his love Lilla to meet him “at the little garden gate”.

#119 - Vienna Polka, Scarcity: LC
PS lists the composer of the tune on this cob as merely “Strauss”. The famous Strauss family of composers of Vienna, Austria included father Johann Strauss (1804-1849) and his sons Johann II (1825-1899), Joseph (1827-1870) and Eduard (1835-1916), each of whom wrote hundreds of pieces of dance music. The tune on this cob is an excerpt from a “polka schnell” (fast polka) by Eduard titled “Wien Uber Alles” (“Vienna Over All”). An undated copy of the sheet music for it under its German title is included in LL. Additional reference: GD.

#120 - Minuet—Bright Eyes, Scarcity: LC
This is another minuet (see notes to cob #117) and is again one of the less common cobs in this numerical range. I have, so far, been unable to locate any information about the tune (See comments to cob #116). “Bright Eyes” could conceivably be the name of an operetta or other production in which the tune appeared rather than the name of the tune itself.


#121 - Old Folks at Home, Scarcity: VC
Probably more recognizable under the title “Swanee River”, this 1851 song is by Stephen (Collins) Foster (1826-1864)(see notes to cob #112), perhaps the best-known and best-loved composer of American songs popular in the early part of the roller organ era. At that time, before music could be recorded and the recordings sold, sales of sheet music were a measure of a work's popularity and, according to OF, as of 1881, 400,000 copies of the sheet music for this song had been sold. Like other Foster songs, it is a sentimental piece in which the singer reminisces about happier times in the old days on the plantation. The Swanee (actually spelled Suwannee) River runs from the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia southwest through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Foster, a Northerner, was not familiar with the region. It is the state song of Florida, with modifications to the lyrics to omit a slang term for African-Americans that is considered offensive today. Reference: LL

#122 - Sailors' Hornpipe, Scarcity: VC
“Sailors' Hornpipe” is a familiar and lively dance tune that was at one time popular in the folk traditions of both the British Isles and the United States, but it is not the tune that appears on this cob. Instead, the tune on this cob is another, similar folk tune from the same tradition, “Fishers' Hornpipe”, that is often played in a medley following “Sailors' Hornpipe”. “Fishers' Hornpipe” also appears on cob #1131 with a different pinning under its correct title. To add to the confusion, the tune commonly known as “Sailors' Hornpipe” appears on cob #213 under the title “College Hornpipe”.

#123 - Home, Sweet Home, Scarcity: MC
This song was universally known and sung during the early part of the roller organ era and this cob was one of the five most common on the roller organ. There were two alternate pinnings of it, a simple, straightforward rendering of the tune and a more embellished, lively, “rollicking” version. The author of the words to the song was John Howard Payne (1792-1852), an American actor, journalist and writer who lived (largely in poverty) at various times in New York, Boston, London and Paris. The tune first appeared in an 1821 book of national airs compiled by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855), who was Director of Music at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in London. He wanted to include a Sicilian air in the collection but could not find one, so he reportedly composed the tune himself and identified it as Sicilian. The lyrics were joined with the tune in an 1823 opera Payne wrote, “Clari, or the Maid of Milan”, and 100,000 copies of sheet music to the piece were reportedly sold in one year. The song was included in all of the concerts of soprano Jenny Lind, “the Swedish nightingale” (1820-1887), from 1850 onward. The tune (with variations) also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob #2043. References: OF, SG, IV, GD.

#124 - Marseillaise Hymn, Scarcity: LC
The words and music of this patriotic song, which is the French national anthem, were written in a single night in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1836), a French army captain stationed in Strasbourg. The song immediately became popular. It is a good example of a piece that was squeezed onto a cob in its entirety even though it was probably too long for the 20-note roller organ. As a result, the cob must be cranked very slowly and, accordingly, played only on a machine with good pneumatics to sound right. Reference: GD.

#125 - Chorus from I Puritani, Scarcity: LC
This piece is from the opera “I Puritani” (“The Puritans”) by Sicilian-born Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), which was first performed in Paris in the year of his death. The story is set in 17th-century Plymouth, England during the civil war between the cavaliers (royalists) and the roundheads (puritans) and revolves around the love of Elvira, daughter of Lord Valton (Walton), an adherent of the puritans, for Lord Arturo Talbo (Arthur Talbot), a cavalier. References: GD, VB.

#126 - Auld Lang Syne, Scarcity: C
This traditional Scottish tune with words by renowned Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) has survived in popularity down to the present day in part because it has been universally sung or played at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. It is also sometimes sung at the closing of Masonic lodges and in other fraternal contexts (Burns was a Freemason). “Auld lang syne” in the Lowland Scots dialect of Burns means “bygone days” or “old times”. The tune also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob #2107, one of the “Masonic” cobs, and on cob #2120, as the second tune following the popular song “Nancy Lee”. Reference: OF.

#127 - Die Wacht am Rhine (The Watch on the Rhine—German), Scarcity: VC
This spirited German march tune, composed by Carl Wilhelm in 1854 with German words by Max Schneckenburger, is seldom played today because of its associations with German nationalism in the time of Adolf Hitler. It also happens to be the tune used for the Yale College alma mater, “Bright College Years”. Reference: SG.

#128 - Die Lorelei (The Lorelei—German), Scarcity: C
This is another German tune and was written by German composer and conductor Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860) as the musical setting for a poem by German poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856). The Lorelei is the name of both an enormous rock that towers over the Rhine River and a female spirit associated with it that lures passing boats to their doom. Songs of this type were widely sung by the German-American singing societies that were so popular during the roller organ era. Reference: GD.

#129 - In the Eye Abides the Heart, Scarcity: LC
This is another drawing-room ballad by German composer and lyricist Franz Abt (1819-1885)(see notes to cob #103). The German title was “In den Augen liegt das Herz”. Henry Kleber (1816-1897), a teacher and mentor of Stephen Foster (1826-1864; see notes to cob #112) when Foster was a young man in Pittsburgh, prepared an arrangement of the tune and Foster himself translated the German lyrics. The sheet music with Foster's English lyrics dates from 1851. References: PS, LL, February 27, 1897 edition of The Pittsburg Bulletin.

#130 - The Hunter's March, Scarcity: C
According to PS, this pleasant march tune was written by “Faust”, and MN contains sheet music for it in which the composer is identified as “Carl Faust”. An article in the May 16, 1880 edition of the New York Times refers to Faust as a “bandmaster of Breslau” in Germany and says much of the popular dance music of the preceding twenty years was written by him, adding “his numerous galops have been more widely played than those of any other composer.” HH provides a detailed biography of Faust that reports that he was a Prussian army bandmaster until 1865 and a civilian bandmaster and composer thereafter and gives his years (corroborated by many other online sources) as 1825-1892.


#131 - In the Gloaming, Scarcity: LC
This is an exceptionally pretty but sad drawing room ballad that was very popular in the Victorian era. The lyrics are, with two very minor changes, the first and third stanzas of a poem titled “In the Gloaming” that appeared in the book Poems by poet Meta Orred, published in London in 1874. The music was written by Annie Fortescue Harrison, who married Lord Arthur Hill, who later became the comptroller of Queen Victoria's household. The limited additional information available from various sources about both Orred and Harrison is in some cases contradictory and in others blatantly incorrect, but there is an appealing story about Harrison that is reported with a number of variations but may have some basis in fact: although Lord Hill loved Harrison, his family discouraged him from marrying her because she was not of the same social standing; she left the scene and he married another woman who died within a year; and he then heard “In the Gloaming” sung, was deeply moved by it, felt it reflected his own situation with regard to Harrison and tracked her down and they were married. References: MN, IV.

#132 - The Dreamland Waltz, Scarcity: C
This somewhat odd-sounding waltz was, according to PS, written by “Batho”, and the labels on some copies of the cob include this name after the title. There is sheet music for the tune giving the title as “Dreamland Valse” and showing the composer's name as “R. E. Batho” in, for example, the University of Tennessee's sheet music collection, which can be accessed online. I have not been able to find any further information about Batho, but the following uncomplimentary comments about the waltz itself appeared in the September 20, 1880 issue of The Musical Critic and Trade Review: “If this valse would land us safely in dreamland we should not object; but it does not; it makes us drowsy, and fills us with ennui; we may fall asleep, but our dreams cannot be of a pleasant nature. The title page informs us that this valse “is all the rage in London.” So much the better for Mr. Batho; but, unfortunately, he will not be equally lucky in New York.”

#133 - Policemen's Chorus, Scarcity: LC
This is the first of several cobs on the roller organ containing a piece by the celebrated writing and composing team of Sir W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert (1836-1911) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900). As noted in PS, the “Policemen's Chorus” (“A Policeman's Lot is Not a Happy One”) is from Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera “The Pirates of Penzance”, which was given its premiere performance in New York on December 31, 1879. Reference: OC.

#134 - Marble Halls, Scarcity: LC
This is the first of several pieces of music on the roller organ by Michael W. (William) Balfe (1808-1870), the Dublin-born musician, singer and composer who is best known for his opera “The Bohemian Girl”, which was extremely popular during the Victorian era and from which this song came. The lyrics were written by Alfred Bunn (1796 or 1797-1860), the manager of London's Drury Lane Theatre, as part of the libretto to the opera and after he showed the libretto to Balfe, Balfe composed the music to go with it within just a few weeks. Interestingly, the lyrics to the first stanza of the song (also known by the title “I Dream't That I Dwelt in Marble Halls”) appear in full and play a central part in James Joyce's short story “Clay” in his Dubliners, set in Dublin at the turn of the twentieth century. Elderly spinster Maria sings the first stanza at a Christmas get-together with her distant relatives and then sings it through a second time, subconsciously avoiding the references in the second stanza to the “suitor” that, to her, represents death. The song also appears on Grand cob #2111 along with “Then You'll Remember Me”, also from “The Bohemian Girl” (see also notes to cob #157). References: GD, IV.

#135 - Annie of the Vale, Scarcity: LC
LL includes sheet music to this song dating from 1861, with lyrics by George P. (Pope) Morris, Esq. (1802-1864) and music by J. R. (John Rogers) Thomas (1829-1896). It was a favorite among troops during the Civil War. Morris was a prominent New York journalist, poet and songwriter best remembered for the poem “Woodman, Spare that Tree!” Welsh-born Thomas was a concert singer as well as composer who also lived in New York. Additional reference: NC.

#136 - Bonnie Eloise, Scarcity: LC
This song appears in sheet music in LL with the subtitle “The Belle of Mohawk Vale” and a date of 1858. As in the case of “Annie of the Vale” on cob #135, the music was written by J. R. (John Rogers) Thomas (1829-1896) and the song was popular during the Civil War years. The lyrics were written by George W. Elliott, a poet and editor of a newspaper in Fort Plain, a small town on the Mohawk River in upstate New York. Additional reference: NC.

#137 - Miserere, from Il Trovatore, Scarcity: LC
This piece is from Act IV of the opera “Il Trovatore” by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), first performed in Rome in 1853 and first performed in the United States in 1855. It is a chant to heaven for mercy on the soul of Manrico, the troubadour or “trovatore”, who is imprisoned and about to be executed. Other music from the opera appeared on cobs #188 and 1120 and Grand cob #2022. References: VB, GD.

#138 - The Parade March, Scarcity: C
PS lists the composer of this march as “Richter”, which is, most likely, once again a reference to “Cl.” or “Clemens” Richter (see notes to cobs #101 and 110), about whom no information has been located.

#139 - Only to see Thee, Darling, Scarcity: LC
There is sheet music in the library of the University of Virginia (UV), accessible online, for this waltz song with a copyright date of 1875 that shows the composer as Fabio Campana and the lyricist as Charles J. Rowe. Campana (1819-1882) was an Italian-born singing teacher and composer who lived in London and wrote hundreds of songs. Rowe was an English lyricist. Additional reference: BB.

#140 - Ye Merry Birds, Scarcity: LC
There is sheet music for this song in MN dated 1871 and in UV dated 1859, both of which also include the original German title, “O bitt' euch, liebe Vogelein”. The English lyrics in the two versions are different. The composer was Ferdinand Gumbert (1818-1896), who began his career as a singer, later became a composer, vocal teacher and music critic in his native Berlin and wrote over 500 songs. Reference: BB.


#141 - Mignonette Polka, Scarcity: C
PS lists the composer of this lively piece as “Lichner” and there is sheet music for it in MN showing the composer as “H. Lichner”. This was Heinrich Lichner (1829-1898), a prolific German composer and choral music director who wrote many light pieces for the piano. His “Bunte Blumen” [“Colorful Flowers”], op. 111, consisted of six pieces each named for a flower, “Carnation”, “Rose”, “Mignonette” (No. 3, this piece), “Tulip”, “Heliotrope” and “Jessamine”. References: BB, The American Bookseller, vol. IX, no. 12, June 15, 1880.

#142 - Time will Roll the Clouds Away, Scarcity: LC
There is sheet music in MN for this song with a copyright date of 1883 in which the words and music are both shown as by Harry Birch. It is a sad piece attempting to console “Annie” on the death of her mother. Birch also wrote other songs in the same genre, including “Remember Dear Mother's Last Words” (1885) (MN) and “You'll Never Miss Your Mother Till She's Gone” (1885) (in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History collection) and is listed as the arranger in the sheet music in MN for “Stick to Your Mother Tom, or Don't Leave Your Mother when her Hair Turns Gray” (1885; billed as “The popular mother song of to-day”). Interestingly, in Fact, Fancy and Fable: A New Handbook for Ready Reference on Subjects Commonly Omitted from Cyclopaedias (Henry Frederic Reddall, comp., Chicago, A. C. McClurg & Co., 1892), “Harry Birch” is said to have been a pseudonym of Charles Albert White (1830-1892), who also wrote music under his own name and was one of the principals of the Boston music publishing firm of White, Smith & Company, which was the publisher of “Time Will Roll the Clouds Away” and the other three Birch songs listed here. There is a lengthy obituary article about White in the Boston Daily Globe of January 14, 1892 that reports that he came from humble circumstances, made his first violin himself from a cigar box and was a dancing master before going into the music publishing business.

#143 - Chorus from Castor and Pollux, Scarcity: S
This hard-to-find cob contains a piece from the 1737 opera “Castor et Pollux”, by French classical composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764). Rameau, a harpsichordist, organist, violinist and author of significant treatises on harmony, wrote music for the French Court in the time of Louis XIV and the music on this cob conjures up images of French aristocrats in powdered wigs and finery at Versailles and Fontainebleau, worlds away from the parlors of rural and small-town America where roller organs were cranked. This accounts for the scarcity of the cob and probably for the fact that my copy of it has an extra hole drilled in the end with the single hole, presumably because someone at some point in listening to it thought it did not sound right and perhaps if it were reversed in the machine it would play something of a sort that sounded more familiar! Reference: GD.

#144 - Darling Nelly Gray, Scarcity: VC
Although the tune to this 1856 minstrel-type song is by no means gloomy-sounding, the words of the chorus, “Oh! My poor Nelly Gray, they have taken you away/And I'll never see my darling any more” refer to the singer's beloved, a slave girl whom the “white man…bound with his chain” to send her from Kentucky to Georgia to work in the cotton and cane fields there. The writer of both the lyrics and music was Ohio-born B. R. (Benjamin Russell) Handy (1833-1867) and it was popularized in performances by the Christy Minstrels. References: DU, OC.

#145 - Dora's Waltz, Scarcity: LC
Like the tune on cob #116, this waltz tune stands out, in my opinion, as one of the most appealing of dozens of waltzes that found their way onto roller organ cobs but, also like the tune on cob #116, it is one as to which I have not been able to locate any information. There is one clue: in vol. 4 of The Dickensian: A Magazine for Dickens Lovers (London, 1908) and again in The Musical Times edition of August 1, 1920 it is stated that the “Dora” of a waltz named “Dora's Waltz” is a character of that name from author Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield and that the waltz was published in Dublin along with a piece titled “Dora's Song” (referring to the same Dora).

#146 - Annie Laurie, Scarcity: C
The original lyrics of this beautiful Scottish song were written by William Douglas of Fingland in Dumfriesshire and refer to the daughter, born in 1682, of Sir Robert Laurie, first baronet of the Maxwelton family. More than a century later, Alicia Anne Spottiswoode (Lady John Douglas Scott)(1810-1900) altered and expanded these lyrics and composed music to accompany them and the resulting piece was published in 1838. References: OC, OF, SG, IV.

#147 - The Leap Year Waltz, Scarcity: C
PS lists the composer of this pretty waltz as “Strauss” and in MN there is sheet music with a copyright date of 1878 for “Coronation or Leap Year Waltzes”, “by Strauss”, “simplified by William Gooch”, that contains this tune. Gooch was associated with Charles A. White of the White, Smith music publishing firm in Boston (see notes to cob #142) and is listed in Boston city directories between 1865 and 1905 as a piano dealer or piano tuner at different business addresses. In Vol. 17 on p. 435 of Folio: A Journal of Music, Drama, Art and Literature (published by White, Smith; 1878) there is a small advertisement for Gooch as a tuner and repairer of pianos in care of the White, Smith office as well as a separate, similar advertisement by White, Smith itself on the same page. Although the piece has a familiar sound, I have not located any waltz with a title of “Leap Year Waltz” or its German equivalent by any member of the Strauss family in any of the lengthy lists of titles of their works and it remains to be determined from which waltz Gooch “simplified” it and which member of the Strauss family was the original composer. In this regard, however, it should be noted that a number of waltzes of the time were billed as Strauss waltzes but were actually composed by others—for example, the tune on Grand cob #2002, which came to be known as “Strauss' Autograph Waltz”, was in fact written by an American composer named Warren—and on the first page of the sheet music for “Leap Year Waltz” in MN there is a list of other sheet music published by White, Smith that includes a piece with the title “Sounds of Boston” by “Strauss”, which almost certainly was not an original Strauss title.

#148 - Thou Art so Near and Yet so Far, Scarcity: LC
PS attributes this tune to “Richards”, but there is sheet music for it in DU and LL with its original German title, “Du bist mir nah' und doch so fern” and German as well as English words that shows the composer as Alexander Reichardt. There is also a version in MN showing Reichardt as the composer but adding “Arranged by Brinley Richards”. Reichardt (1825-1885), known primarily as a tenor singer, was born in Hungary and achieved popularity in opera and on the concert stage in Vienna, London and Paris. (Henry) Brinley Richards (1817-1885) was a prolific composer and arranger of music for the home pianist as well as an expert on the music of his native Wales. Additional references: OC, GD, BB.

#149 - The Last Rose of Summer, Scarcity: C
This is one of several songs on the roller organ from Irish Melodies by Thomas Moore (1779-1852), which appeared in ten numbers between 1807 and 1834. Moore was a Dublin-born poet who wrote sentimental lyrics, set them primarily to old Irish harp tunes and performed them himself. He achieved enormous popularity during his lifetime and was known as Ireland's national poet. Many of his songs hark back longingly to an earlier period in Irish history, such as “Let Erin Remember the Days of Old”, “Remember the Glories of Brien the Brave” and “The Harp that Once Through Tara's Halls”; others, such as “The Last Rose of Summer” (which appeared in 1813) and “Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms”, are just emotional pieces with no specific Irish reference. “The Last Rose of Summer” also appeared as one of the tunes on Grand cob #2117. References: OC, Moore's Irish Melodies (Boston, Oliver Ditson, 1852).

#150 - Waltz—German Hearts, Scarcity: C
This waltz tune (German title: “Deutsche Herzen”) is by Eduard Strauss (1835-1916) of the famous Viennese Strauss family (see notes to cob #119). He was the youngest son of Johann Strauss I and the younger brother of Johann Strauss II and was a conductor as well as the composer of more than 200 pieces of dance music. References: IU, GD, OC.


#151 - Alice Polka, Scarcity: LC
This is another Strauss composition, this time by conductor and composer Johann Strauss I (1804-1849), the patriarch of the Viennese family, known as the “father of the waltz”, who toured widely throughout Europe, to great acclaim, with his orchestra and composed over 250 pieces. References: MN, GD, OC.

#152 - See Saw Waltz, Scarcity: LC
According to the website, this waltz was the best-known composition of A. (Alfred) Gwyllym Crowe (1835-1894), a military bandmaster and orchestra conductor who was born in Bermuda. Crowe conducted at the very popular Promenade Concerts at Covent Garden in London. Additional references: MN, The Musical Times, April 1, 1894.

#153 - Polka—On the Wing, Scarcity: C
Although Joseph Strauss (1827-1870; see notes to cob #119) did compose a “polka schnell” (“fast polka”) named “Im fluge” (literally “in flight”), which has been translated “On the Wing”, it does not sound to me like the tune on this cob. No composer is listed in PS for the tune and it is another one about which I have not yet been able to locate any information.

#154 - O Ye Tears!, Scarcity: LC
This is another composition by the German composer of drawing room pieces, Franz Abt (1819-1885)(see notes to cob #103). The original German title was “Fliesset schnell Thranen mein”; English lyrics were provided by Charles Mackay (1812-1889), a Scottish-born poet, journalist and author who also wrote the words to “Cheer, Boys Cheer” (cob #393). References: MN, OX.

#155 - The Beautiful Blue Danube, Scarcity: C
This tune has been described as probably the most famous waltz ever written. Its composer was the most illustrious member of the Strauss family of Vienna (see notes to cob #119), Johann Strauss II (1825-1899), and it dates from 1867. It also appeared on the Grand roller organ as cob #2109. References: MN, OC.

#156 - Listen to The Mocking Bird, Scarcity: VC
The words to this song were written in 1854 by Septimus Winner (1827-1902) under his pseudonym “Alice Hawthorne”. Winner was a music teacher and proprietor of a music store in Philadelphia who wrote hundreds of songs. He was paid only $5 for this one and more than 20 million copies of it were sold during his lifetime. The tune was provided to him by Richard Milburn, known as “Whistling Dick”, an African-American who also lived in Philadelphia. The song is another of the very most popular American standards of all time, universally known during the roller organ era and still remembered today. References: MN (discussion), LL.

#157 - Then You'll Remember Me, Scarcity: LC
This beautiful drawing-room ballad, also known as “When Other Lips”, comes from the 1843 opera “The Bohemian Girl”, with music by Michael W. (William) Balfe (1803-1870) and lyrics by Alfred Bunn (1796 or 1797-1860)(see notes to cob #134). The plot involves a heroine, Arline, kidnapped as an infant by gypsies in Act I and restored to her father, Count Arnheim, Governor of Presburg (in Hungary) as a young woman in Act II. In Act III, she longs to see Thaddeus, a Polish nobleman who was also living as part of the gypsy troupe and with whom she is in love. The leader of the gypsies arranges to bring Thaddeus to her chamber and he sings this song. It also appears on Grand cob #2111 along with “I Dream't that I Dwelt in Marble Halls”, which is also from “The Bohemian Girl” and, under the name “Marble Halls”, appeared on cob #134. References: SG, VB.

#158 - Annen Waltz, from "Nanon", Scarcity: LC
The title for this cob is sometimes listed as “Annen Waltz from Nanon” (see, for example, PS). “Nanon” was an operetta by Polish composer and conductor (Franz Friedrich) Richard Genee (1823-1895), with libretto by his frequent collaborator F. Zell (Camillo Walzel, 1829-1895), set in Paris at the time of Louis XIV and first produced in Vienna in 1877. The story involves romantic intrigue centering around the title character, Nanon, who is hostess at a tavern, the Inn of the Golden Lamb. Genee served as conductor at a number of musical theatres including the Theater an der Wien in Vienna and wrote a number of operettas as well as librettos and arrangements for other composers. This is, in my opinion, another of the most interesting and appealing waltzes on the roller organ. Reference: OC.

#159 - Tyroler and Child, Scarcity: LC
A “Tyroler” is someone from the region in the Austrian Alps known as the Tyrol. The original German title for the piece was “Der Tiroler und sein Kind”. The information I was able to locate about it is contradictory and inconclusive. Some sources refer to it as a folksong, while others attribute it to a (Josef) Ferdinand Nesmuller (said to be a pseudonym for Muller; 1818-1895) and say that it came from an operetta of his with the title “Die Zellerthaler”. Sheet music for the song (with first line “Wenn ich mich nach der heimat seh'n”) as well as recordings of it on 78 r.p.m. phonograph record and player piano roll can be located online, but none of the versions I found corresponded exactly to the tune on the cob, although they were clearly related to it.

#160 - Flowers That Bloom (Mikado), Scarcity: LC
This song comes from the comic opera “The Mikado”, by Sir W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert (1836-1911) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)(see notes to cob #133), first produced in London in 1885 to immediate acclaim and also produced in New York later that year. Although Gilbert & Sullivan operas were extraordinarily popular during the roller organ era, this is one of only several pieces from their works that found their way onto the roller organ. Also, this was, inexplicably, not a popular cob. References: OC, VB.


#161 - The Blue Bells of Scotland, Scarcity: C
The original words to this Scottish song were written by Scottish poetess Annie McVicar (1755-1838) in 1799 upon the departure of the Marquis of Huntly for the continent with his regiment and were modified shortly afterwards by an actress who performed the song on stage and is now generally referred to simply as “Mrs. Jordan”. The tune, a traditional old Scottish or English air, was arranged by Charles Mackay (1812-1889; see notes to cob #154) and Sir Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855; see notes to cob #123). This is the sort of song that would have been taught to elementary school children in the roller organ era and, far from being an obscure Scottish piece, was very widely known among several generations of Americans. References: OF, SG.

#162 - Du, Du, Liegst Mir im Herzen (You, You, Nearest My Heart—German), Scarcity: C
Although associated with the clinking of beer steins, this is a German love song. Both the words and the tune are from the German folk tradition and the song is another one popular with the German-American singing societies that were so widespread in the early years of the roller organ era.

#163 - The Wearing of the Green, Scarcity: LC
This is another “ethnic” song, this time Irish, and is of course associated with St. Patrick's Day, when the Irish and non-Irish alike have customarily included at least one green item in their clothing for the day. A number of different versions of lyrics have been linked with the tune, which is a traditional Irish air. One version appears in LL, by Dion Boucicault (1822-1890) and E. H. House, and dates from 1865. It was sung by a character named “Shaun the Post” in Boucicault's play “Arrah na Pogue”. Boucicault was a Dublin-born playwright and actor whose lengthy, detailed obituary article in the September 19, 1890 New York Times summed him up as “the most conspicuous English dramatist of the nineteenth century”. The first part of the tune also appears on cob #2141 with the title “Benny Havens, Oh!”

#164 - The Campbells are Coming, Scarcity: C
This ancient Scottish martial air is of unknown authorship. The title refers to the impending arrival of the Campbell clan onto the scene of battle.

#165 - The Minstrel Boy, Scarcity: LC
This is one of the prettiest of the Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore (1779-1852; see notes to cob #149), the Dublin-born poet who set his romantic lyrics to ancient Irish harp tunes, in this case a traditional tune called “The Moreen”. It is still widely heard and is especially played by marching bagpipe bands on St. Patrick's Day. Like many of Moore's Melodies, it is a patriotic song lamenting the subjugation of Ireland; the lyrics tell of a minstrel boy who went to war with “his wild harp slung behind him” and now can be found “in the ranks of death”. Reference: Moore's Irish Melodies (Boston, Oliver Ditson, 1852).

#166 - The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane, Scarcity: C
This once very popular song is by Will (William) S. (Shakespeare) Hays (1837-1907) and dates from 1871. Hays, from Louisville, Kentucky, was a prolific songwriter who produced over 300 songs. The singer is an elderly former slave who laments the passing of his master, mistress and fellow slaves and the better times he remembers and his isolation living in a run-down cabin with only his dog. The same tune is used for the familiar hymn “The Lily of the Valley”. References: MN (both sheet music and discussion), BB.

#167 - It's Funny When You Feel That Way, Scarcity: LC
Both the lyrics and music of this lively song are by G. (George) W. (William) Hunt, who wrote a large number of songs that were performed in English music halls. Many of his other pieces also found their way onto roller organ cobs, such as “The Bell Goes A- Ringing [for Sa-i-rah]” (cob #413), “Up in a Balloon” (cob #419), “Mother Says I Mustn't” (cob #474), “Awfully Clever” (cob #482), and “When the Band Begins to Play” (cob #483). A photo of his tombstone in Abney Park Cemetery in London on the internet website shows that he died in 1904 at the age of 66. “It's Funny When You Feel That Way” is a comic song in which the singer describes his feelings (as if he had “tumbled into honey”, inherited money, etc.) upon falling in love. Reference: LL.

#168 - "La Mascotte" Quadrilles—I, Scarcity: LC
#169 - "La Mascotte" Quadrilles—II, Scarcity: LC
#170 - "La Mascotte" Quadrilles—III, Scarcity: LC
#171 - "La Mascotte" Quadrilles—IV, Scarcity: LC
#172 - "La Mascotte" Quadrilles—V, Scarcity: LC
“La Mascotte” was a popular operetta at the beginning of the roller organ era and dated from 1880. The music was by French composer Edmond Audran (1842-1901), who is forgotten today but at one time was known for a number of operettas produced regularly in Paris over a period of many years. At the time, familiar themes from musical productions of the day were often arranged for a five-part dance known as the “quadrille”. French composer Olivier Metra (1830-1889; see notes to cob #101) arranged excerpts from “La Mascotte” in this way. Part 1 of the sheet music to his “La Mascotte Quadrille” (a copy of which I was able to view on a website named contains what is on cob #168 and consists first of a lively piece that appears at the end of the overture and again at the end of the finale to Act II of the operetta, followed by a brief portion of the chorus of the so-called “orang-outang” song that appears in Act III. Part 3 of the sheet music contains the “air of Saltarelle” that appears on one of the two versions of cob #169 (see explanation below). Part 4 of the sheet music contains the tune that appears during the finale to Act II and again in the entr'acte between Acts II and III of the operetta and also on cob #171. Part 5 of the sheet music contains, first, the so-called “coaching chorus” from the end of Act I that also appears in the overture to the operetta and the entr'acte between Acts I and II and, second, a longer version of the chorus of the “orang-outang” song, both as they appear on cob #172. Therefore, it appears that Metra's “La Mascotte Quadrille” was the basis for the music on cobs #168-169 and 171-172.

The story of “La Mascotte” involves the notion that an innocent country girl, Bettina, brings good luck as a “mascot” first to a farmer, Rocco, and then to a prince from whose castle the farmer's shepherd, her lover Pippo, helps her escape. Interestingly, probably the best-known piece from the operetta, the duet of Pippo and Bettina from Act I, which is not included among the tunes on the quadrille cobs, appeared on the roller organ separately among the Spanish cobs as cob #467 (“Duo de Pippo y Bettine (Spanish)”). Interestingly, also, there were two different tunes that appeared on cobs numbered 169 and labeled “La Mascotte Quadrilles, II”. One is the so-called “air of Saltarelle” that is sung by Pippo in Act II of the operetta when he appears, disguised as a dancer named Saltarelle, at the castle where Bettina is being held. The other sounds more like a popular song along the lines of “My Old Kentucky Home” (cob #1069) or “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” (cob #166). This second tune did not appear on any other cob and also does not appear to be from “La Mascotte”. I have also not been able to match the pretty piece on cob #170 to any tune in the operetta. References: OC.

#173 - Darling Bessie of the Lea, Scarcity: LC
In this sweet song the singer, in three verses and a chorus, simply sings the praises of his beloved Bessie. The music was by Henry Tucker (1827-1882); the lyrics were by his frequent collaborator George Cooper (1840-1927). “Professor” Tucker, as he was called, was a child musical prodigy who was born in Canada, lived in upstate New York and in his later life moved to New York City and lived in Brooklyn. In addition to composing hundreds of pieces of music, he was a church organist and gave music lessons on a number of instruments. Other, more popular songs of his (also written with Cooper) included several Civil War songs and the sentimental drawing room ballad “Sweet Genevieve”, an at one time extremely well-known song that for some reason did not find its way onto the roller organ. When the copyright for “Darling Bessie” was renewed in 1910, the applicant was listed as his widow, Bessie Tucker, presumably his “darling Bessie”. Cooper was a poet and lyricist who also lived in New York City. References: MN, NC, The Musical Critic and Trade Review, February 20, 1882.

#174 - The Guards' Waltz, Scarcity: LC
PS lists the composer of this tune as “Russell”, but it was in fact (according to sheet music in LL) composed by Dan Godfrey (1831-1903), bandmaster of England's Grenadier Guards, and dedicated to “Lt. Col. Sir Charles Russell Bart. V.C. Grenadier Guards”. In addition to composing “The Guards' Waltz” and other waltzes, Godfrey arranged and taught military music. Additional reference: BB.

#175 - Rhine Wine Charley, Scarcity: LC
The music to this comic song was written by George Leybourne (real name Joseph Saunders; 1842-1884), an English music hall singer and entertainer as well as a songwriter. He is perhaps best-known in the United States for his song “The Flying Trapeze” (see notes to cob #433). He also wrote the song “Champagne Charlie” (see notes to cob #434) with Alfred Lee and performed it on stage dressed in a top hat and arriving in a horsedrawn coach. “Rhine Wine Charley” was a parody of “Champagne Charlie”, Rhine wine being the opposite of tony champagne; the lyrics, by Gus Williams (born Gustav Wilhelm Leweck; 1847?-1915) are in a comic “Dutch” (that is, German) accent and begin “Vat gare I for a den cend pie, No madder of ids made oud of cheese, So long vat I have mine goot Rhine vine, I'll laugh und do just vat I blease”. In addition to writing songs, Williams performed on stage in New York, specializing in “Dutch” characters. Reference: MN (under the title “Rhine Vine Sharley”), OC, John Koegel, Music in German Immigrant Theater: New York City, 1840-1940 (Rochester, University of Rochester Press, 2009).

#176 - The Witches' Carnival, Scarcity: LC
The composer of this waltz tune was E. B. Spencer and it dates from 1882 (MN). Spencer also appears as composer of a number of other pieces in sheet music in the same time frame in MN and the places of residence given for individuals to whom the pieces were dedicated and the fact that so much of the sheet music was published in Philadelphia suggests that he lived there. There is an “E. B. Spencer” listed as “music teacher” in the 1867 Philadelphia city directory.

#177 - He's Going to Marry (Mikado), Scarcity: LC
As noted in PS, this song by Sir W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert (1836-1911) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)(see notes to cob #160) is another one from their comic opera “The Mikado”, which is set in Japan. While it is not possible to summarize the full details of the convoluted plot here, this song (“For he's going to marry Yum-Yum”) is sung by Pitti-Sing, one of the three female wards of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, at the end of Act I, upon the appearance of Katisha, an elderly lady of the court who has set her sights on the Mikado's son Nanki-Poo, who loves Yum-Yum and has disguised himself as a minstrel in order to avoid having to marry Katisha. Reference: VB.

#178 - I've Got Him on My List, Scarcity: S
This is still another song from Gilbert & Sullivan's “The Mikado” (see notes to cobs #160 and 177) and is sung by Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, in Act I. In it he says that he has a “little list” of “society offenders who never would be missed” were he to execute them. He then enumerates them in three full stanzas: they include “pestilential nuisances who write for autographs”, “people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs”, “people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face”, “the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and every country but his own”, etc., etc. The exact words “I've got him on my list” do not appear anywhere in the piece.

#179 - Laura Waltz, No.1, Scarcity: LC
#180 - Laura Waltz, No.2, Scarcity: LC
These waltz tunes are from another operetta that was popular at the beginning of the roller organ era, “Der Bettelstudent” (“The Beggar Student”), with music by Austrian composer and conductor Karl Millocker (1842-1899) and libretto by “F. Zell” (Camillo Walzel, 1829-1895) and Richard Genee (1823-1895)(see notes to cob #158). It was first produced in Vienna in 1882 and in London in 1884. Millocker was a protege of Franz von Suppe (see notes to cob #2088) and conductor and resident composer at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. “Laura” is Polish Countess Laura Nowalska, who rebuffs the advances of Austrian Colonel Ollendorf by striking him with her fan; to revenge this slight, the Colonel arranges for the release from prison of a penniless student, Symon, so that he can be passed off as a wealthy nobleman in order to marry Laura, whose family is in desperate financial straits. The Colonel's song in Act I, “Ach, ich hab' sie ja nur auf die Schulter gekusst” (“Oh, I merely kissed her on the shoulder”) contains the music that is the basis of the waltz tunes. Reference: OC.


#181 - Brucker Lager Marsch, Scarcity: LC
The title to this lively German march appears in some lists as “Brucker Camp March”. The composer is listed in PS as “J. N. Krall”. This is Johann Nepomuk Kral (1839-1896), a Viennese bandmaster who composed popular marches as well as waltzes and other dance music. References: BB, HE.

#182 - Life Let us Cherish, Scarcity: LC
PS lists the composer of this tune as “W. A. Mozart” (Austrian classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791) and there is undated sheet music in LL to which LL has assigned a date of “1799-1803” that is headed “Life Let Us Cherish. A Favorite Ballad Composed by Mozart. Arranged also with Variations by the same Author”. GD, BB and other sources, however, instead attribute the tune to the well-known Swiss composer, teacher, author and music publisher Hans Nageli (1773-1836), who wrote and published a large number of songs with piano accompaniment. Its title in German was “Freut euch des Lebens” and it was published in 1794.

#183 - The Flyaway Galop, Scarcity: C
This lively dance tune is another about which I have not been able to find information; although there are several pieces of sheet music in MN for a “Fly Away Galop”, none of them appears to contain a tune resembling the one on this cob. There are also at least two additional pieces of sheet music with a tune of this name that I have not yet seen. A “galop” is a very spirited quick dance in 2/4 time that originated in Germany and was given the name “galop” when it was introduced into France in the first third of the nineteenth century. Reference: GD.

#184 - Tyrolian Song, Scarcity: LC
This tune is the so-called “Tyrolienne” from the opera “William Tell” by Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), first produced in 1829 in Paris. Up to that time, Rossini wrote dozens of operas, but he retired after writing “William Tell” and wrote no further operas during the remaining almost forty years of his life. The opera is set in thirteenth century Switzerland and includes the famous scene in which Tell, a Swiss patriot and expert archer, is ordered by the Austrian tyrant Gessler to shoot an apple placed on Tell's son's head, which he successfully does. Excerpts from the much more familiar overture to the opera are on Grand cob #2062. References: GD, VB.

#185 - Plantation Galop, Scarcity: LC
There is sheet music in LL with a tune of this name by “Charles Coote” (see notes to cob #105), but it does not appear to correspond to the tune on this cob.

#186 - Oft in The Stilly Night, Scarcity: LC
This is another sentimental song by Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852)(see notes to cobs #149 and 165). Like “The Last Rose of Summer”, it does not contain any specifically Irish reference; instead, the lyrics say that, as the singer falls asleep, he often thinks back to his earlier days and sadly remembers all those he knew who are now departed. This song appeared in Moore's National Airs rather than his Irish Melodies and the tune to which he set it is described as a “Scotch air”.

#187 - Dearest May, Scarcity: LC
There is sheet music in MN for this song (using the alternate spelling “Dearest Mae”) with the subtitle “a Celebrated Ethiopian Song”. The lyricist is listed as Francis Lynch, the composer as James Power (c. 1826-1890) and the arranger for piano as L.V.H. Crosby (c. 1824-1884). All three were members of a blackface minstrel group called the Harmoneons. Crosby organized the group in 1845 and they performed at the White House for President James Knox Polk the following year. A book of their songs called The Harmoneons' Casket of Songs and Glees included “Dearest Mae” and was published in Boston in 1850. In the song, written in dialect, an African-American slave sings the praises of his Mae and describes a boat trip down the river to visit her. Reference: MM.

#188 - Back to Our Mountains, Scarcity: LC
As indicated in PS, this song is from “Il Trovatore” by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)(see notes to cob #137). Its Italian title is “Ai nostri monti” and it is sung as a duet in Act IV by the imprisoned Manrico, the troubadour or “trovatore”, and the woman who has raised him as his mother, the Gypsy Azucena. The tune on this cob is a different arrangement of the tune that also appeared on cob #1120 under the title “Home to our Mountains”. Reference: VB.

#189 - The Sailor Boy's Reel, Scarcity: LC
This is, presumably, another anonymous traditional dance tune (see notes to cob #106) but, despite its title, it does not have the tempo of a reel.

#190 - Yankee Doodle, Scarcity: VC
The tune to this universally known American patriotic song has variously been claimed to be of English, French, Dutch, Spanish or Hungarian origin, and one version of the origin of its lyrics is that they were written in 1755 during the French and Indian Wars by a British regimental surgeon as a derogatory joke upon the ragtag continental troops that were serving alongside the British soldiers. This is another cob (like cob #123) that appears in two versions, one simple and one fuller and more ornamented. The tune also appeared on the Grand roller organ on cob #2090. References: OF, SG, OC.


#191 - White Wings, Scarcity: LC
This pretty waltz song was written in 1884 by Georgia-born Banks Winter (1857-1936), a tenor who performed with minstrel companies including Thatcher, Primrose and West's. “White Wings” refers to the sails of a yacht that “carry me cheerily over the sea” “to sweet Maggie Darrow”, who “in her dear little home…is waiting for me”. References: LL, MM, New York Times, December 14, 1936.

#192 - When I Was a Boy, Scarcity: LC
This is the first of three songs on the roller organ from “The Little Tycoon”, which OC calls “the first commercially successful American operetta”. Willard Spenser (1852-1933) wrote both the lyrics and music in 1882 and it was first performed in Spenser's native Philadelphia in 1886. It was subtitled “An Original American & Japanese Comic Opera in Two Acts”. Act I takes place on board a ship returning to America from Europe and includes this song, the full title of which is “Now, When I Was a Boy”. General Knickerbocker wants his daughter Violet, the heroine, to marry an English lord, Lord Dolphin, but she wants to marry her American love, Alvin Barry. In the song the General sings that when he was a boy women were obedient, unthinking, docile and agreeable, as he would like Violet to be. Alvin ultimately wins Violet by disguising himself as the “Great Tycoon” of Japan and asking the General for her hand so that she may become the “Little Tycoon” (hence the title of the operetta); the status-seeking General consents. Reference: A complete libretto to the operetta, with music, is available online courtesy of the Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.

#193 - Irish Valet's Song, Scarcity: LC
This is the “Valet's Song and Dance” that also appears in Act I of “The Little Tycoon” (see notes to previous cob). Teddy, Lord Dolphin's footman, finding himself on stage alone after the other characters have dispersed, performs a little song and dance in what was the typical “stage Irish” style of the day.

#194 - The Golden Slippers, Scarcity: C
The words and music to this 1879 song were written by James A. Bland (1854-1911), the first prominent African-American songwriter, who also wrote “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” (1878; not on the roller organ). Bland, born in Flushing, New York, studied law at Howard University in Washington, D. C. but then learned the banjo and turned to a career in music. From 1881 to 1901 he lived in England and performed in music halls and minstrel shows. After returning to the United States he died penniless in Philadelphia and was buried in an unmarked grave. The sheet music for the piece called “The Golden Slippers” “the most popular Negro melody of the season” and identified Bland as being “of Sprague's Georgia Minstrels”. References: OC, MN (including discussion).

#195 - The Quilting Party, Scarcity: LC
This song, also known as “I Was Seeing Nellie Home”, was at one time widely known and appears in a number of the older collections of the most popular American songs, such as Heart Songs Dear to the American People (Boston, Chapple Publishing Co., 1909), a compilation based on submissions by the public of their favorite pieces. The lyrics in Heart Songs, however, are much simplified from those that appeared in earlier sheet music, and there were competing editions of such sheet music with differing lyrics and differing attributions of authorship, first dating from the 1850s. The singer tells how, while bringing Nellie home from a quilting party (a get-together where women made quilts), he declared his love to her.

#196 - Waltz Song, "Love Comes", Scarcity: LC
This third piece from “The Little Tycoon” (see notes to cobs #192 and 193) was, according to OC, “America's first operetta hit song”. Its complete title is “Love Comes Like a Summer Sigh” and it is sung by Violet in Act I.

#197 - Polka—Ah There!, Scarcity: LC
This is a tune about which I have not yet been able to locate any information.

#198 - The Cadets' March, Scarcity: LC
There are a number of tunes with the name “Cadets' March” or a similar name on sheet music in MN, but none of them appears to correspond to the tune on this cob. I have not yet been able to determine the origin of the tune.

#199 - Promenade Quickstep, Scarcity: LC
This is another tune about which I have not yet been able to locate any information.

#200 - "Gay Life" Quadrilles—I, Scarcity: C
I have always assumed that, just as the “La Mascotte Quadrilles” (see notes to cobs #168-172) incorporated themes from the operetta “La Mascotte” and the “Chimes of Normandy Quadrilles” (see notes to cobs #556-560) incorporated themes from the operetta “The Chimes of Normandy” (“Les Cloches de Corneville”), the tune on this cob and the tunes on related cobs #201-204 came from an operetta titled “Gay Life” or “The Gay Life”. After extensive research, however, I have not yet located any operetta by this name (or its French or German equivalent).

Scarcity Ratings

Scarcity ratings are based on hundreds of cob transactions and many years experience.
MC Most Common
VC Very Common
C Common
LC Less Common
S Scarce
VS Very Scarce
N No known copy


BB Theodore Baker, comp., A Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (New York, G. Schirmer, 1900)
CL Milton Littlefield, Ed., Hymns of the Christian Life (New York, A. S. Barnes and Co., 1929)
DU Duke University Sheet Music Collections (online at
GD H. C. Colles, Ed., Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 3rd Ed. (New York, MacMillan, 1935)
HE William H. Rehrig (Paul E. Bierley, Ed.), The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music: Composers and their Music (Westerville, Ohio, Integrity Press, 1991)
IV Aline Waites and Robin Hunter, The Illustrated Victorian Songbook (London, Michael Joseph, 1984)
IU Indiana University Sheet Music Collection (online at
LL Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection at Johns Hopkins University (online at
MH The Methodist Hymnal (New York, etc., The Methodist Publishing House, 1935)
MM Edward LeRoy Rice, Monarchs of Minstrelsy, from “Daddy” Rice to Date (New York, Kenny Publishing Co., 1911)
MN Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music (1820-1860, 1870-1885 and similar online United States Library of Congress collections)
NC National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York, James T. White & Company, 1897 (and other editions))
OC Peter Gammond, The Oxford Companion to Popular Music (New York, Oxford University Press, 1991)
OF Helen Kendrick Johnson, Our Familiar Songs and Those Who Made Them (New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1881)
OX Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
PS list of available cobs in the 1885 Peck & Snyder catalog, including composers' names in many cases (reproduced online at in the “Original Advertising” section)
SG Henry Frederic Reddall, compiler, Sweetest Gems of Music and Songs of the Fireside (no publisher stated, 1910)
SL George Putnam Upton, The Standard Light Operas, their Plots and their Music (Chiago, A. C. McClurg & Co., 1902)
UV Sheet music in the University of Virginia Library, accessible online at
VB Victor Talking Machine Company, The Victrola Book of the Opera: Stories of the Operas with Illustrations & Descriptions of Victor Opera Records (Eighth Edition, 1929)

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