This is a little history about one particular Hammond Concert E organ that was in our possession for a few years in the early 2000s. We eventually sold it and I believe it ended up in Germany (Dresden from what I can remember).
THE ORGANS HISTORY
This particular Hammond “Concert E” began its life in 1937 or 1938. The organ is difficult to date as Hammond did not want their customers to be able to date their models using the serial number (the number of ours is 8032 which matches Canterbury Cathedral records). The organ belonged to Carol Williams from 1979 to 2002, but spent the initial stages of its life in Canterbury Cathedral where it was installed in 1939.
The correspondence concerning the installation of the Hammond began between the cathedral and Boosey & Hawkes in 1937, while Gerald Knight was organist (he was organist until 1953). The Dean and Chapter decided to install a Hammond organ because of troubles with the main cathedral organ. Work on the cathedral pipe organ began under Henry Willis III in 1940, but was not completed until 1949. In 1950 the Concert E was on the choir screen in the cathedral, where the main organ console now stands.
In 1954 it was thought to be no longer required and was sold back to Boosey & Hawkes for £200, a sum corresponding to the original purchase price. Little is known of its whereabouts after being sold back to Boosey & Hawkes in 1954 until it was bought by Tudor Williams for his organist daughter Carol in 1979. Tudor bought the organ unaware of its history until he saw the plaque on the organ which states it was in Canterbury Cathedral.
This organ was later connected to a “Series 10” tone cabinet (produce around 1966). One addition which was not on the original organ was a reverb system which was presumably added in the 1950s or 1960s. The organ stayed in the Williams’ family home until Tudor’s death in 2002.
EARLY HAMMOND HISTORY
Laurens Hammond was first granted a patent for his tone-wheel organ in January 1934, with the organ being officially unveiled in April of the following year. Owners of the first models included Henry Ford (who bought six o”f Model A”), George Gershwin and Jesse Crawford (who actually owned a Concert E model). The first model to go into production was the “Model A” which was produced from 1935-1938, this was followed with the models AB (1935-1938) and BC (1936-1942). Models C and D were not produced until 1939 (after the Model E).
In July 1937 the fourth model in the Hammond series was born; the “Concert Model E” with a retail price in the USA of $1,980 (around $20,000 in todays money) and weighing-in at a hefty 579lbs. This was the first Hammond with a 32 note pedalboard which was both concave and radiating. The organ featured two expression pedals; one for upper manual (or “swell”) and one for the pedals and lower manual (or “great”). It also featured two separate adjustable tremulants for swell and great manuals and preset pistons instead of preset keys (which are the reverse coloured keys found on the lower octave of many Hammond organs, including the B-3). Production of the Concert E stopped in July 1942.
The organ had been ‘transistorised’ but the original valves were still with the instrument when we sold it. The organ was in working order when it left us, but was in need of an internal clean. All the keys and pistons were working, the only thing that wasn’t was the swell pedal indicator pole, which was stuck (which was pretty minor and only happened while we had it).
While the organ was connected to a 1960s cabinet, we had been told that a Leslie 31H (or a 31A or 122 in a pinch) would be a nice match.
The organ weighed in at 579 pounds and is 57″ wide and 48″ deep (including the bench and detachable pedal board).