Piano Stools are Never Reed Organ Seats
Quite often I’ll see an old piano stool placed in front of an antique reed organ that’s called a “reed
organ stool.” However, most reed organs stools, or rather seats, didn’t look much like piano stools.
First of all reed organ seats were not always round. Many were square, or
rectangular in shape. Basically they were small, cushioned, upholstered chairs that had no back and were
usually covered in a wide variety of decorative fabric material(s).
Over 100 years ago the use of colorful patterns and floral prints were the fashion of the day. Tassels and
fringe came in all sorts of shapes and colors and were commonly used in home interior decorating, which also
included reed organ seats.
There was another type of reed organ seat that didn’t look anything like a piano stool. This seat was
forward sloping and was called a bench seat. They were either rectangular or square and were made entirely of wood.
They were not upholstered, nor did they have any kind of cloth material or cushioning; it was 100% wood.
These wooden bench seats sloped slightly downward toward the organ and did so for a good reason. It helped the
person playing the organ to lean forward which made working the foot pedals easier.
And finally, reed organ seats didn’t have any wheels on them, or slippery decorative glass balls like many
piano stools had. You can imagine the problem you’d have trying to work the foot pedals and keep from sailing
across the room. Remember you’re pushing the foot pedals down and away from you.
This is also the primary reason why reed organs that were built with metal or wooden rollers would only
roll left or right. By design, they would not roll forward or backward.
The following pictures will give you a little better idea of what real reed organ seats look like or should
have looked like. However, please keep in mind that although some of these seats have been recovered in later
years, they may no longer have the correct period fabric styling that they once had.
The last picture shows a reed organ seat that was very nicely restored. They did a fine job! Not only was
it upholstered with the correct period material, but the refinishing job on the wood work was also well done.