update 8-10-2009


Collectie Olthof

Harmonium Museum Nederland


Saltaire Reed Organ Museum





Harmoniummuseum Liestal




Harmonium Art Museum België






expositie juli/augustus 1981
de catalogus is een animatie
de pagina's slaan van zelf om.



Bovenkerk Kampen

Bovenkerk te Kampen

Bovenkerk plattegrond

Map of Bovenkerk Kampen


Hinsz Organ

Hinsz organ 1743 Vp/56
tracker / slider chests
5 divisions on 4 manuals C-c3,
pedal division C-d1

Choir Organ

Reil Choir Organ IIIp/29 1999
tracker / sliderchests
2 manuals CD-e3;
solo manual c1-e3;
pedal C-d1



































The Olthof Collection

The “High North” of the Netherlands is the region known worldwide as the “Garden of Organs”. One cannot walk around in this garden, without stumbling over a historic Schnitger, or a Hinsz, a Van Oeckelen, a Freytag. And even quite a number of organs much older than the Schnitger era. 

A special explanation for our foreign visitors: Just because we live in one of the smallest countries in Europe, we like to think big, really big. That is why we refer to “the high north” of the country as if you need your private jet to go there. Please forgive us.


Living in a region that is so inspiring in a musical sense, it is either a form of total madness to collect reed organs or it proves a broadminded view resulting in more musical satisfaction. I am sure it is the latter reason that starts collecting reed organs.

Map of the North of the Netherlands


The red balloon marked A shows where the collection is.

We have reached an era in which reed organs are ‘out of production’. All over the globe we now see passionate collectors creating collections of reed organs. Quite a number of these collections are based on the thought: Save them from peril before it is too late. Amongst these “collectionneurs” there are only a few where collecting has grown to “museal collection”. The Olthof collection is a sound example of the latter choice.

Museal collecting is a difficult task. It cries out for organizing and truly in depth knowledge. Museal collecting is more than a number of instruments. Without extensive documentation one does not pass the level of “this one is oak, and has 3.5 ranks of reeds”.

Apart from the instruments one needs to collect documentation, scores of Music, books, catalogues, parenfernalia.

The First or an early collection?

Was the Olthof Collection the first one worthy of the name?  Was it just an early collection in between the other available collections? These questions should not be asked, because they are in a sense irrelevant. A collection has to be merited on its contents.

We know the Olthof Collection was exhibited for the first time in 1981. Not “a bunch of reed organs in a barn”. A true exhibition lasting two full months. Exposed in one of the well known churches in the Netherlands. In full view of the grand old lady Hinsz (we refer to organs as feminine.) For over eight weeks there were 30 reed organs to be seen. And some of them to be played on. And additional there were scores, books, documentation items.


A Catalogue was printed, showing the pictures in sepia tone, with some explanation to each item.

This catalogue can be seen in the left column at the top. This is an animation; pages will turn every 5 seconds. It’s just a matter of time to see all pages. When it stops, just hit key F5 to restart the animation. We are looking for software to create a better and bigger animation.

In the catalogue is the essential information on each instrument and its builder.


I don’t have any information how big the Olthof Collection was in 1981. I do know that now – in 2009 – it houses about 60 instruments. Most of them are rare, or special, or what ever. Instruments dating from 1840 till way past Word War II.

A second exposition

Again, in 1987 from July 23rd till September 12th an exhibition. At the same location, the famous Bovenkerk of Kampen. A new catalogue was printed. The exhibition now showing 31 instruments. Only a few from the first exhibition.  


Three times is a charm

And again, 30th of April 1988 (with the Royal Family as visitors (!) till mid of September 1988. The same exhibition as the second one. (The instruments weren’t even removed from the church. And this third exhibition started out the founding of the Dutch Harmonium Society. (H.V.N.) Visitors joined in discussing and exchanging information. The wish was spelled out to have a society focused on reed organs. And finally, 1990 the H.V.N. was founded.
This society H.V.N. is still there. It is an active organization. Annual meetings, a quarterly magazine. Over 300 passionate members.


Just say 'Kampen', just say 'Bovenkerk', just say 'Hinsz', and any organ fan in Holland will reply with: 'Willem-Hendrik'.  Willem Hendrik is one of the sons of Jan Zwart, the founder of an organ dynasty. Jan had 13 children, most of them have 3 or 4.And a next generation is already there. And about half of the family is an organist. Hence: the Zwart-dynasty.

Willem-Hendrik has been the organist-curator of the famous Kampen Hinsz organ. And it should be written on paper:  A man, for decades bearing responsibility for ‘his Hinsz’. A passionate lover of his Hinsz organ, a passionate believer in worship and liturgy. Responsible for this mighty Hinsz organ, he also had much love for the small, not so impressive musical instruments.

This man, Willem-Hendrik was the one who instigated to have the exhibition in this church. It was quite a gamble.  A church, much visited by tourists with only one focus:  The Hinsz. And confronting these tourists with those “pump organs”. Was he out of his mind?  The above has shown:  No, he was right from the beginning on.

Three times a charm, the grand old lady Hinsz was tactfully asked to ‘be quiet’ for quite a time. And she agreed. From above she looked upon those little creatures. And she smiled when she discovered there are family ties between her and the lot.

Collecting is more than instruments

Next to the instruments the Olthof Collection also houses one of the largest archives on reed organs. Containing amongst others:

  • literature (books & magazines)
  • sheet music (compositions written for harmonium)
  • sales information & promotional catalogues (These are one of the best resources for historic study)
  • articles from papers and magazines
  • Photo and film

His archive makes it possible for Wim Olthof to have a small exhibition on each Annual Meeting of the H.V.N. All Annual meetings are open to the public.

The instruments

Below are details about the instruments. All pictures are form the original catalogues.  We have plans to make pictures of each of them. It will take some time, they are in the “High North” and I am not. And I don’t have a Hubble telescope on my Nikon.


Exhibited in 1981


Trayser, 2 manuals ca. 1870 5 ranks

Trayser ca 1870 5 spel



Alexandre, Paris, 6 raknks

no picture





Debain, before 1870, 3 ranks

Debain, 3 spels vóór 1870






L.H.R. Mott, Londen, ca. 1855 Piano-harmonium

Mott piano-harmonium






Mason & Hamlin, "baby harmonium" 1881 $ 22 (original price)

Baby harmonium



Mason & Hamlin, ca. 1880 smallest reed organ with full size keyboard, imported by Joh. de Heer ( A Dutch evangelist).

Mason & Hamlin



Mason & Hamlin; suction ree organ with the looks of a French harmonium.

Mason & Hamlin flattop





Mason & Hamlin "Chapel Style" meant for small churches and chapels.
(no picture)



One of the oldest pedal reed organs, 1860, USA, Mason & Hamlin.
(no picture)






Harmoniflûte built by Busson in 1856, invented by Marix, Paris. Looks like an accordeon, has a reservoir, what makes it a harmonium.






Table harmonium, built by Wallis in France, ca. 1865 2 ranks




Kasriel "Guide Chant" for accompaniment of singing and musical school education. ca. 1930. Compass 2 octaves.

Kasriel Guide Chant



Akkord harmonium by Menzenhauer, Germany, ca. 1900. Left a button keyboard, to the right a piano keyboard. The treadles are multiple feeder bellows






Travel harmonium, by unknown, 2 ranks.








Folding reed organ by Mannborg, Germany.






Flat top reed organ by S.S. & H.W. Smith, Boston USA, ca. 1868. Flattops were built starting ca 1850 till ca. 1880, when styles changed into upright cases like the piano.

smith flattop



Flat top reed organ by George Woods & Co. This firms is known for its high quality Melodeons (early type of reed organ, in fact the suction variety of the physharmonica)

Geo Woods flattop



Burdett Combination Harmonium. A very rare reed organ. 1.5 manuals and a 13 note attached pedal. The small manual is a 2 rank solo manual.




Burdett Combination Harmonium



Aeolian Orchestrelle roll player Compass C-a3. Can be played through the keyboard. Full tubular pneumatics.









Aeolian Style 1050, rather early roll player. Manual mechanism is tracker.



Aeolian Style 1050



Organette. By The National Mechanical Organette, ca. 1895. Only 14 reeds.




Separate roll player for placement on piano keys. Also 3 ranks of reeds. Piano and harmonium are separately playable and also combined.  (No picture)





Dutch harmonium, by N.V. Nederlandsche Orgelfabriek Worcester, at Amersfoort, ca. 1900. Parts were purchased at Worcester Organ Co. U.S.A. and other suppliers. (No picture)



English harmonium. (No picture)



D.M. Karn, Woodstock Ontario, Canada. Canadian instruments followed American styles and marketing. Most of the Canadian instruments have more elaborate cases. Canadian quality was good or even outstanding.



D.W. Karn Spiegeltop



Liebmannista. A chord player. Invented in 1871 by the firm of Liebmann, at Gera, Germany.

The instrument is a plank, containing a mechanism, where pressing one key results in pressing 4 keys on the keyboard. With help of the many buttons major and minor chords can be played. Also many types of chords. Various inversions of the root position c1-e1-g1 can be played as e1-g1-c2 (is the "First inversion") or g1-c2-e2 (the "Second Inversion").



Exhibited in 1987 & 1988

The exhibitions of 1987 & 1988 share some instruments with the first exhibition. Below are only the instruments, not exhibited earlier.
Choretta   3 Choretta ca. 1959. 3 ranks, steel reeds. Technical this is an accordeon. Was marketed in the Netherlands by the Harder firm.    
4 Christophe & Etienne, Parijs,
4 1/2 ranks. A special stop is Sourdine General, where all bass stops play softer.
  Christoff & Etienne    
    5 Robert Cocks & Co Londen ca 1865. A suction instrument, looking like a pressure one. Mechanics are like pressure harmonium. Split at e1/f1. Hardly nothing is known of this builder, we only know he was a reseller of American instruments, and it seems he built a few himself.   Cocks Londen
Debain   6 Debain, ca 1875 Originally sold in England. Notice the peculiar placement of the stops, below the keyaboard. 5 ranks.    

Borger - Vriezenveen. 1 rank miniature barrel organ. Pressure, 24 reeds.

Frieborgh folding reed organ. ca 1953 2 ranks ( 8'+ 4').

  Borger draaiorgeltje   Frieborgh
Joh de Heer  

Metal folding harmonium ca 1938. Sold as Joh. de Heer.

It is not clear this instrument was a "stencilled" instrument, or really built by De Heer. 2 ranks instrument, both 8 feet, second rank tuned in celeste.

    Jubal harmonium   11
Jubal Organ Hees & Co Delft
The private label of Hees & Co. Builder unknown. Could be assemblage by Hees & Co.
Kasriel   15
Kasriel Guide Chant with transposable keyboard. 1 rank, 25 reeds from a-a2. Keyboard is e - dis3, hence 6 halve tones transposable.
The Improved Seraphine, manufactured by Joseph Kirkman, London. ca. 1840. 1 rankl 61 tongen. Manual compass FF-f3.
This instrument is played on the cd 'Boléro de Concert'
  The Royal Seraphine
Lindholm kunstharmonium  

Lindholm "Kunstharmonium" ca. 1926

This instrument was custom built on order for a Dutch buyer. Sold through reseller Goldschmeding at Amsterdam.

Pressure, with all kunstharmonium properties.

A special stop is Halb-Tutti, split in bass and treble.

Compass C-c4, split at e1/f1


The Prolongement is also very rare. There are two prolongements; the first holds the keys half pressed (hence less wind); the second one holds the keys pressed down all the way.

Prolongement bass: C-H, prolongement treble f1-e2.

    vroeg pedaalharmonium  

Mason & Hamlin early pedal reed organ ca. 1865

see remarks first exhibition nr. 9

Style 48  

At the left:
Mason & Hamlin Style 48, ca. 1875
2,5 + 1/5 ranks
See nr. 7 first exhibtion.

At the right:
Mason & Hamlin, Style 501 ca. 1883
3 1/2 + 1/5 ranks.

The stop Seraphone treble is placed at the back of the windchest in a box, like a subbass box.

  Style 501
Physharmonica Trayser   24
Physharmonica Trayser ca. 1860
1 spel, 54 reeds, C-f3. Reed are mounted in reed plates.

Worcester from the Netherlands. ca. 1920 Built / assembled with parts purchased in the U.S.A. Mostly from the Worcester Co. U.S.A.


This instrument has 5 ranks.


Physharmonica, year unknown. Probably built by Böhm

This instrument looks very similar to an instrument ca. 1900 possibly built by Hermann (?) in the collection of Leipzig University. Catalogusnr. 3700



Royal visitors at an exhibition

Royal Family at Exhibition

Queen Beatrix, Prince Claus
and sons Willem-Alexander( crown prince),
Constantijn and Floris




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