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The Arts

Ephemera and advertising is focus of Estey Organ Museum talk

The presentation is free, and Estey Organ Museum is handicapped accessible. For more information, visit

BRATTLEBORO—Estey Organ Museum sponsors “The Estey Organ — Its Place in the Emergence of American Capitalism” at its Engine House Gallery, 108 Birge St., on Sunday, June 29, at 3 p.m.

Kit Barry, curator of the Ephemera Archive for American Studies in Brattleboro, leads the presentation.

Ephemera is any printed material that is meant for short-term or specific use, and then to be discarded. Examples of ephemera are magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, postcards, invoices, junk mail, and print advertising.

The Estey Company, along with thousands of other 19th century companies, was both a part of, and the epitome of, the driving force determining the personality and being of the United States: American Capitalism. By exploring the Estey product and its place in the American home, we find an example of how early American Capitalism worked.

Barry started collecting ephemera at 15. By the time he was in his late 20s, his collection was a research tool, an archive.

In 1964, Kit transferred to Marlboro College, where he majored in writing and anthropology. Once graduated, he stayed in the Brattleboro area, becoming involved in the antiques market by selling ephemera. In the course of his being an ephemera dealer over the past 40 years, he has written two price guides and a disc book on horse-drawn farm machinery.

Images and explanations of Estey print advertising will be shown and discussed. It was the advertising that linked the organ to the public.

For more than 100 years, Estey Organ Company was known worldwide for its manufacture of organs, building some 500,000 reed organs and 3,200 pipe organs. Many of these instruments still grace homes, churches, and fraternal organizations. Estey Organ Museum was founded in 2002 to celebrate this heritage.

Its Engine House Gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays, 2 to 4 p.m., and other times by appointment. Call 802-246-8366 for details.

In addition to the collections of organs and materials owned by the Museum, its managing director, Philip Stimmel, maintains his own large collection of Estey advertising materials and memorabilia.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #260 (Wednesday, June 25, 2014). This story appeared on page B3.

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