update: 16-08-2010



Societé Mustel

An article by Victor Mustel

Victor Mustel versus J.N. Lemmens


Dumont - Mustel




Mustel 3 manuals: harmonium and celesta 1909

This article is mainly based on an article published in "Harmonium en Peril" no 6-2001

Jean Verney

"Je puise dans mes souvenirs et je vous signale une curiosité de Mustel, harmonium que j'ai joué pendant la dernière guerre (à Marsseille Temple E.R.F. Provence) - Ou'est-il devenu?"

I was looking throuhg my souvenirs and I like to point your attention to a curious Mustel I played during the years of the last War (World War II) in the Temple E.R.F. (Eglise Réformée de France) in Marseille - Provence. Where has it gone?


The instrument you can not see

I am sorry, but we just don't know what it looked like. We know it is built in 1909. And the queeste to find a picture is not succesfull yet. Maybe one day we will have a picture. What we have is a drawing showing the basis outlines of the instrument.

Outline of a Mustel

First part / Première partie

This is the 'socle pédalier' the pedestal containg the pedal division. This part is 40 centimeters in height. According to information by Louis Huivenaar, the '1ère partie' in fact is two parts. The part below the harmonium, and the pedal division. The pedal part contains the sommier/action with the reeds and percussion. The part below the harmonium housed the ventilateur 'electrique 'Bouchet Lanat de Lyon' (blower fan).

In fact the diagram of the 1ère partie looks like this:

Second part / Deuxième partie

This is the harmonium part, consisting of 2 manuals of 9 ranks

Third part / Troisième partie

Contains the Celesta. I presume this was a 5 octave Celesta. Based on the fact that in most 2 manual instruments (Modèle 8, 6.5 ranks plus 4 octave Celesta) and Modèle 9, 3 manuals, 9 ranks on the 2 manual harmonium part, Celesta on manual 3, 5 octaves Celesta, the 3 manual instruments had a 5 octave Celesta.

The stoplist / Registration

All manuals are 5 octaves, 61 keys.

Manual III (top manual)

Celesta, 5 octaves.
The celesta sounds at 4' pitch.

Manual II (middle keyboard) 5 ranks

  • Cromorne 32', 3.5 octaves ranging F2-C6 (in European style: f - c4) treble [ explanation ]
  • Contrebasse-Musette 16' full range of 5 octaves C-c4
  • Basson-Hautbois 8' 5 octaves, one stop, 5 octaves C-c4
  • Clairon 4' 5 octaves, C-c4
  • Harpe éolienne 8', double reeds, 3.5 octaves F2-C6 / f-c4 treble

Manual I (lower keyboard) 4 ranks

  • Bourdon 16', 5 octaves, 2 stops, splitpoint at e/f
  • Flûte - Cor Anglais 8', 5 octaves, 2 stops, splitpoint at e/f
  • Percussion et Flûte 8', 5 octaves, 2 stops, splitpoint at e/f
  • Flûte Douce 8', 3.5 octaves F2-C6 / f-c4 treble
  • Voix Céleste 8', double reeds, 3.5 octaves, F2-C6 / f-c4 treble
  • Flûte 4', 5 octaves, 2 stops, splitpoint at e/f

Pédale 1 rank

  • Bourdon 16'
  • Basson 16' (forte of Bourdon) **
According to the information about the Mustel pedestal pedal division, it seems clear that Mustel inserted two ranks, 16'and 8', both with percussion. Hence I suspect that the Basson 16' forte in reality is a Basson 8'


Mechanical details

Expression per clavier, Tirasse 1e clavier.
The given details are not clear. There is the expression stop on Manual I. That is clear in itself. The remark 'expression per clavier' is in my opinion the Double Expression, meaning that with the help of the genouillères (knee levers) the double expression regulates Manual I versus Manual II in stead of the regular bass - treble as usual. In the mean time I have been adviced that my idea is correct.
" The left kneelever affected the lower manual, the right one the upper manual. Expression applied to the whole instrument, as normal", Brian Styles said.

Accouplement 1 sur 2.
The harmonium only manual coupler. Even here we have a detail to explain: The couplers Celesta - harmonium, are working downwards only, as I have been informed by specialists in this field. It seems logical to presume that the intra-harmonium coupler works in the same way: Playing on Manual II with coupler, makes you play II and I simulteanously. It not only seems logical, we checked with the (previous) owner of a Modèle 12 3 manuals Celesta, and indeed, even the harmonium keyboards only couple downwards.

Prolongement 1er clavier (basses-dessus).
Meaning that the prolongement works over all 5 octaves of the Manual. The fact that basses - dessus is mentioned, shows that both basses and dessus (treble) have seperate stops.

Accouplement Célesta / 2 & Accouplement Célesta / 1
Both couplers as mentioned coupling down. To play Celesta AND harmonium one has to play the Celesta manual.

Split point / coupure

Remarkable is the fact that the splitpoint / coupure on this instrument is an octave lower than normal. Mustel had the curious system in two manual harmoniums to have the split on Manual I as normal [e1/f1] and the second manual at e/f [an octave lower].
In this instument both manuals split at e/f. Was this because that out of 9 ranks, fout 'solo voices' are available in the treble part of the manual? Where both harmonium manuals feature a Celeste stop?


This instrument can be played three ways:

  • by foot (as normal on harmonium, with Expression & Double expression)
  • by a lever at the back side, by a second person. No (?) Expression. Maybe Brian & Louis know?
  • by a windmachine in the pedestal. No expression.

Serial number

This instrument is marked 1990-1070-348
I have been told this means:

  • 1990 = number of harmonium as a single instrument
  • 1070 = number of celesta as a single instrument
  • 348 = number of combined instruments in one instrument.

The celeste stops

The harmonium has an celeste stop on both manuals. Manual I has a Voix Céleste 8' and a Harpe Eolienne 8' on Manual II.
"The two Celestes are very different - the one on the bottom manual is restful and foundational in character. But the Harpe Eolienne is far brighter and the beats are more rapid", Brian Styles said.

Original documents from M. Jean Verney

The documents are now in the archive of the magazine Harmonium en Peril.

Letter by mr. Verney



The last part in a seperate picture

The 'sommier' ( is the windchest and reedpan) of the pedal division remain in the pedestal, below the bench, at the backside of the pedalkeys. "Ces jeux" [plural!] it says in the letter - the ranks - are fitted with a percussion to enhance the speed of speech of the reeds. However, in the stoplist Verney tells us there is only one rank (jeu).
Below the pedalkeys is a reservoir (bellows).

Et maintenant mes dames et monsieurs

La lettre de Mustel, le 28 Février 1951. This is a date in French. Meaning February 28th in 1951 :-) And it clearly says that the Mustel firm has no proof that beside this instrument an other one was built, ever. So this was a really unique example of the artisan craft of Mustel.


Letter of Mustel


Traduction / übersetzung / vertaling by google :-)

  • Dutch:"Meneer, Wij hebben goed ontvangen uw letter van de 25 krant....."
  • English: "Mister, we have received your letter of 25th newspaper..."

The real translation now:

Dear Sir,

We received your letter dated 25th of this month, showing the details of the instrument which you have taken care for.
This instrument is very old, it was created in 1909. And we believe this one is the only instrument with 3 manuals and pedals ever constructed by us.


In the meantime I have been informed that the Temple was bombed in WW II in 1944. However, this seems to be a rumour only. We do know that after the war a new Temple was built.

i found a very remarkable note on a french website: "Marseille - Provence - orgue ? (?) reconstruit par Jean-Louis Loriaut (2000) What does it mean? [ Loriaut is an organbuilder, we know of three pipe organs built by him].

The Temple contemporain

These are pictures of the new Temple, built in the fifties of the last century

Temple E.R.F. Marseille   Temple E.R.F. Marseille



Mustel Societé Anonyme

Vcard Mustel

The above card was given to me in 2009 at the Schiedmayer Bicentennial.

Below is an older one:


The pedestal construction

What did it look like? We did not know. Up until now. Vraiment, un mirâcle se passera hier. (Yesterday a Peugeot passed). [ 1] I received an e-mail that the complete - however destroyed and taken apart - pedestal was acquired. After checking THREE different editons of this pedestal construction. Showing that it has been updated at least three times. Meaning: technical changes to make it better. Pictures will be here soon. (I wrote this at 21:03)

[1] Somewhere in the seventies/eighties of the previous century the Peugeot car company ran an advert with a motto in Dutch: "Peugeot een wonder op wielen" (Peugeot, a miracle on wheels). A Dutch stand up comedian created a joke out of this: 'A quelle heure se passera un Peugeot ici?' and explaining to the audience this meant: "At what time the miracle on wheels shows up?".

Now it is: 21:55 h.

The pictures shows the 3rd modification of this construction. This one has TWO ranks in the pedal division.


Size of Bourdon 16' lowest note, frame is 150 mm long 20 mm wide. After 1914 reed frames were slightly smaller.

Two pedal ranks, both fitted with percussion. The percussion can be switched off/on seperately.
From the picture it shows clearly that the 8' reeds are hit at the 'heel' of the reed, close to the rivets.
The 16' however are hit mor to the middle of the reed.




Original documents courtesy of Harmonium en Peril.

Photographs courtesy of Louis Huivenaar.

Most of the pictures are by Jean-Philippe Noury, France.

These pictures can be seen for all, because we believe in sharing this information with the reed organ / harmonium community world wide.