The harmonium or pump organ is a type of reed organ that generates sound withbellows.
More portable than pipe organs, reed organs were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes in the 19th century, but their volume and tonal range are limited, and they generally had one or sometimes two manuals, with pedal-boards being rare. The finer instruments have a unique tone, and the cabinets of those intended for churches and affluent homes were often excellent pieces of furniture. Several million reed organs and melodeons were made in the U.S. between the 1850s and the 1920s. During this time Estey Organ and Mason & Hamlin were popular manufacturers.
Harmoniums reached the height of their popularity in the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were especially popular in small churches and chapels where a pipe organ would be too large or too expensive. Harmoniums generally weigh less than similar sized pianos and are not as easily damaged in transport, thus they were also popular throughout the colonies of the European powers in this period not only because it was easier to ship the instrument out to where it was needed, but it was also easier to transport overland in areas where good-quality roads and railways may have been non-existent. An added attraction of the harmonium in tropical regions was that the instrument held its tune regardless of heat and humidity, unlike the piano. This "export" market was sufficiently lucrative for manufacturers to produce harmoniums with cases impregnated with chemicals to prevent woodworm and other damaging organisms found in the tropics.
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