G.L. Bauer and Co. (1865-97)

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This important firm was founded by Gilbert Bauer at 3 Ogle Street and 15 Foley Street, London. Later addresses included 49 Tottenham Street, Tottenham Court Road, London. They also had premises at Cleveland Street, Fitzroy Square, 50 Albert Street, Mornington Crescent, and previously 101 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square. One of these addresses was known as Cumberland Works. Other premises were at 21 King's Road, St. Pancras in 1883 and as Bauer and Co. at 34 King's Road in 1897.

Bauer was one of the most important English harmonium manufacturers and his instruments were known for their high quality of fabrication. The firm was awarded a gold medallion at the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876. They won other gold medals in London 1872, South Africa 1877 and Paris 1878. Highest awards in Calcutta 1883-4, Inventions Exhibition 1885, Adelaide 1887. [check dates]

They also made harmoniums with a 24 note pedalboard. A copy of the following advertisement for such an instrument was sent to me by Robert Pacey. It probably dates from around 1867.



Gilbert Bauer was born in 1845 in Marylebone, son of William Bauer and Mary Ann. He was the son in law of the famous piano maker John Brinsmead and learned his trade in France. He then employed mainly French workers in his London factory, hence the similarity to the best French harmoniums of the time.

Gilbert was married on 4/7/1872 in Marylebone Parish Church to Laura Elizabeth Brinsmead (b.1846-d.1932). Their son Harold (b.28/4/1873-d.12/3/1951) became a well known concert pianist specialising in music by Debussy - another French connection. He was born in New Malden, Surrey and died in Miami, Florida. Their first daughter Ethel (b.1875-d.14/12/1940) was also a noted pianist. She as born in St. Pancras and died in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. Daughter Linda was born in St. Pancras in 1879. At some time Laura Elizabeth also moved to Rhodesia, presumably after Gilbert's death. At the time of her own death her effects were said to be worth £20,465, an enormous sum which may have been a remaining legacy from her father.

The Bauer firm eventually came under the control of Edmund Barnes JP, member of the London School Board (later the LCC) who also controlled Muir Smith and Co. piano makers. Bauers were no longer listed in 1909 and it thought that Gilbert had died prior to 22nd October that year.

Edmund Barnes (1842-1926) was a chorister at Wimborne Minster from 1850-1858 and he bequeathed a large legacy in favour of the Minster choir and organ fund, which maintains the organ and provides for the choir school. From 1861 to 1866 Edmund Barnes was organist of Minster Church, Ramsgate, where he probably met his wife Sarah Ann Hinds. From 1869 to 1882 he was organist at St. Clement Danes Church in the Strand, London. 1865 to 1904 Member of the School Board for London. 1865 to 1925 Chairman of St. Pancras group of schools, group 3. 1894 Magistrate of the County of London. 1900 to 1902 First Mayor of London Borough of St. Pancras. 1902 to 1906 Governor of Christ's Hospital Schools. 1903 Deputy Lieutenant of the County of London. 1903 to 1906 Governor of North London Colligate School for girls. 1904 to 1907 Member of London County Council. 1905 Chairman of St. Pancras Magistrates. 1906 Chairman of Messrs Harrison, Barber & Co. London.

It happens that the Brinsmead family tree is very well researched, see http://www.brinsmead.net/brintree/index.html. We are grateful to the family for publishing this information which is of enormous help in tracing the history of both firms.


In the introduction to his comprehensive harmonium tutor [99], King Hall notes A very high pitch of excellence, has been attained by a clever and ingenious English manufacturer Gilbert L. Bauer, whose instruments are remarkable for the simplicity of their mechanism, and the variety of timbres of the various registers..

An engraving re-produced in The Art Journal vol.5 (1879) pp.145-52 illustrated catalogue of the Paris international exhibition shows the impressive exhibition instrument. Text reads: We engrave a Grand Pedal Harmonium manufactured and exhibited by Mr. Gilbert L. Bauer of London. This instrument is intended to represent the pipe organ as nearly as consistent with the the use of vibrating tongues and is constructed for use in small churches or chapels, students' organ practice or as a substitute for the real organ in opera or drama on the stage. The relative position of the keys and pedals has been carefully scaled after that of the pipe organ and the mechanism affecting the manual and pedal couplers is extremely simple. It is a beautiful example of Art manufacture, being designed with great judgment and taste, as well as a valuable specimen of wood carving and it is well entitled to the high honour it received in Paris.

This was exhibited at the 1878 Paris Universal Exhibition in Class 13 (musical instruments). The catalogue notes [translated]: a harmonium with two manuals and pedals for study plus a Grand Concert concert harmonium. A case of reeds with steel tongued and white metal reeds was also exhibited.


The Royal Polytechnic programme from 15/3/1878 carries the description as follows. The New Grand Concert Model Harmonium. In the Gallery, manufactured by Mr. Gilbert L. Bauer, of Tottenham Street, is built expressly for Concert purposes, and is constructed in the simplest possible manner, with a view to prevent it getting out of order. It is voiced with greater vigour than any other Harmonium, being capable of taking the part of most instruments in the Orchestra. It is specially adapted for Solo work, and by the aid of Double Touch, together with Fortés Pneumatic, effects can be produced hitherto unknown.
The Grand Prize Medal of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition has been awarded to Bilber L. Bauer, the highest award for Harmonium.

However all was not going well concerning the business.

London Gazette 1/6/1880: In the Matter of a Special Resolution for Liquidation by Arrangement of the affairs of Gilbert Lewis Bauer, of 49 Tottenham Street, Tottenham Court Road, Cleveland Street, Fitzroy Square, and 50 Albert Street, Mornington Crescent, Regent's Park, and late of 101 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square all in the county of Middlesex, Harmonium Manufacturer. The creditors of the above named Gilbert Lewis Bauer who have not already proved their debts, are required, on or before the 12th day of June, 1880, to send their names and addresses, and the particulars of their debts or claims to me, the undersigned, Frederick Lucas, of 20, Great Marlborough Street, London, in the county of Middlesex, Public Accountant, the Trustee under the liquidation, or in default thereof they will be excluded from the benefit of the Dividend proposed to be declared. Dated this 27th day of May, 1880. Fred. Lucas, Trustee.

On 6/7/1880: First and Final Dividend of 2/6d in the pound has been declared in the matter of a special session for liquidation by arrangement of the affairs of Gilbert Lewis Bauer ... and will be paid by me, at the offices of Messrs. F. Lucas, Sons and Co., 20 Great Marlborough Street, London, W., on Thursday, the 8th day of July, 1880, or any following Thursday, between the hours of eleven and three o'clock. Dated this 1st day of July, 1880. Fredk. Lucas, Trustee.

Gilbert had entered into an agreement with the liquidators. He owed £3,497 and eventually paid 2s/6d per pound.

He then continued in business, and was awarded a silver medal in the 1885 London Inventions Exhibition for harmoniums and American organs catalogue no.3,548.

In 1884, instruments by Gilber L. Bauer & Co. were advertised as follows at William Lea's Music Warehouse, 50-52 Church Street, Liverpool.

Class 1 - 1 row, Drawing room harmonium, 7 guineas (un-polished ash), 8 guineas (polished walnut)
Class 2 - 1 row, 5 stops Forte, Sourdine, Expression, Tremolo, Forte, 12gns. or 13gns.
Class 3 - 1:2 rows, 4 stops Diapason Bass, Expression, Diapason Treble, Voix Celeste, 14gns. or 16gns.
Class 4 - 1:2 rows, 8 stops Forte, Sourdine, Diapason Bass, Expression, Diapason Treble, Voix Celeste, Tremolo, Forte, 16gns. or 18gns.
Class 5 - 2 rows, 10 stops Forte, Sourdine, Double Diapason, Diapason Bass, Grand Jeu, Expression, Diapason Treble, Voix Celeste, Tremolo, Forte, 20gns. or 22gns.
Class 6 - 2:3 rows, 10 stops Forte, Sourdine, Bourdon, Diapason Bass, Expression, Diapason Treble, Double Diapason, Voix Celeste (or Principal), Tremolo, Forte, knee swell, 25gns. or 28gns.
Class 7 - 4 rows, 13 stops Forte, Sourdine, Bassoon, Clairon, Bourdon, Diapason Bass, Expression, Diapason Treble, Double Diapason, Principal, Oboe, Tremolo, Forte, knee swell, 34gns. or 37gns.
Class 8 - 4:5 rows, 14 stops Forte, Sourdine, Bassoon, Clairon, Bourdon, Diapason Bass, Expression, Diapason Treble, Double Diapason, Principal, Oboe, Voix Celeste, Tremolo, Forte, knee swell, 38gns. or 40gns.

American Organs
Style 50 - 1 row, knee swell, 12gns. (polished walnut)
Style 51 - 1:2 rows, 4 stops Diapason, Dulciana, Voix Celeste, Forte [sic], knee swell, 16gns.
Style 52 - 2 rows, 7 stops Diapason, Dulciana, Principal, Flute, Echo, Vox Humana, Forte [sic], knee swell, 20gns.

Polished pine or walnut stools were available.

Bauer had received exhibition prizes as follows: Grand Diploma of Merit, Philadelphia 1876; Silver medal, Paris, 1878; Silver medal, South African International Exhibition, Capetown, 1877; Gold medal, Calcutta, 1883-4.

A significant testimonial from J. Goddard 20/3/1875 says: The Harmonium made for us by your firm, and that was presented by his Highness the Prince Imperial, has now been in constant use for some years. I have much pleasure in testifying to its excellence in every way. It has given us perfect satisfaction.

1M2:3 Averesch Collection, no.2680 2

This is an instrument said to date from 1906 and number 2680-2. It is also catalogued as RFG-3478. It has Estéve reeds tuned originally to A=452 Hz and stops as follows: Forte, Tremolo, Sourdine, Bourdon, Cor Anglais, Full Organ, Expression, Flute, Clarinette, Voix Celeste, Tremolo, Forte. There is also a G.J. knee lever. It is noted that the keys have the label of ``R.W. Clark Late Sebright & Clark''. There is also the label of the Weslyan Methodist Sunday School Union.


ROS Database entry 370 1M

One instrument appears in the ROS database (entry 370). It is an art harmonium with 20 stops: Double Piano, Forte Pneumatic, Harp Aeolian 2', Basson 8', Clarion 4', Double Diapason 16', Flute Bass 8', Percussion 8', Full Organ, Expression, Percussion 8', Flute Treble 8', Clarionet 16', Octave Flute 4', Oboe 8', Musette 16', Voix Celeste 16', Baryton 32' Forte Pneumatic, Double Piano.

This follows the standards layed down by Mustel, just with changes to the stop names. A booklet written by Edwin Malkin and published by the Mustel outlet in London explains this arrangement and how to play Mustel and similar instruments [136]. It is known that Bauer built copies of Mustel harmoniums.

Brian Styles' Bauer 1M/10:10

Brian Styles had this c.1880 instrument for a while, which came from a church in Westminster. Brian sold it to David Frostick (a pipe organ voicer by profession) who has since restored it very thoroughly. His work included re-leathering the feeders, restoration to the case (which is solid walnut) and re-making quite a lot of broken or missing parts.

It is a 1M harmonium with 10 rows of Estève reeds all the way through. The construction standard is extremely high, with burr maple on the internal surfaces. It has a solid American Walnut case with bird's eye maple internal cover beneath the lid, which has velvet covered forte shutters. Unfortunately, it lacks Double Expression or Percussion which a comparable Mustel would have had. It is nevertheless a very fine example of the English harmonium industry, and would probably have been rather expensive at the time.

The instrument has 25 stops: Forte Pneumatic, Forte Pneumatic Solo, Flute Bass 4', Sub Bass 16', Harp Eolienne 2' II, Fifteenth 2', Octave 4', Vox Humana 8' II, Bassoon 8', Clarion 4', Double Diapason 16', Diapason Bass 8', Expression, Diapason Treble 8', Double Diapason 16', Principal 4', Oboe 8', Vox Humana 8' II, Octave 4', Baryton 32', Musette 16', Voix Celeste 16' II, Flute Treble 4', Forte Pneumatic Solo, Forte Pneumatic. There are three knee levers operating the Grand Jeu and Crescendo Bass and Treble.

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More Pictures

ROS DB entry 1790

This is probably wrongly ascribed to Gilbert Bayer of London. It has serial number 5885/3249, 61 keys and 8 stops.

Taco Boersma's Bauer 3MP

Ian Thompson notes that he once owned a 3M Bauer which had a full compass 32' stop. He told me I sold the 3M Bauer to Taco Boersma in Holland a good few years ago. I've got some (rather poor!) photos of, which I'll send you when I've had them scanned, along with the very impressive spec. There was an Aeolian Harp adjustment, I remember, that afforded air supply adjustment to one of the two sets, so that you could speed up or slow down the beat. As you might expect, it didn't work consistently throughout the compass, but it was a nice thought!

Ian Thompson's Bauer

Another one owned by Ian Thompson: It was that Bauer that broke my original reed organ trolley and prompted me to make a new one, which has just survived another Bauer move - this one with a quasi-art-harmonium spec, which I'll also send. Presumably similar to the specification noted above.

Bauer 3MP/22-1/2

There are records of a large 3MP organ built by Bauer with 40 stops and 1,365 reeds. This is said to have been the one that won a medal at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 (London Gazette). It may be the same instrument as described next or perhaps two were built.

Bauer 3MP/24

This one was actually described by W.E. Raymond of Bootle, Lancashire, its owner in 1935 [156]. He claims that it was built in 1869 and had the following outline specification which still has to be verified.

3 manuals
28 note pedal board
1,426 reeds, 40 stops

Swell:                  Great:
8 ranks                 6 ranks

Choir:                  Pedal:
3 ranks                 3 ranks, including 32'

(played from Swell manual)
4 ranks

Mr. Raymond described the instrument thus: The case is of superb craftsmanship, being burr walnut enriched with carved ebony. The forty stops are arranged at the sides, the ebony knobs having ivory tablets, and the ebony framed keyboards are supported by carved trusses in ``gargoyle'' form. The whole stands 9'6'' high. The action is on ordinary harmonium lines, swell and solo soundboards being encased by Venetian swell shutters controlled by two pedals. There are also pedal controlled tremulants to these soundboards, which work on all the reeds, not on one set only as is usual in harmoniums. For all its huge size, the instrument is not powerful, the tone being thin and reedy with none of the blatancy usually associated with harmoniums.

Unfortunately Mr. Raymond was not entirely happy with this sound for he concluded with the following: If any reader can offer me any suggestions for the improvement of the tone, I should be glad to hear. I had contempated having the interior re-built on modern lines, but am afraid the cost would be prohibitive.

This must have been a very fine (but large) instrument, and it would be very interesting to hear of its subsequent history. 1869 is also very early for a harmonium (or any reed organ) of this size and it was almost certainly first built as an exhibition instrument.

ROS DB entry 2873

This one was for sale by Jim Tyler, Oct'2004. It is the same one appearing on the ROS DB serial number 7498.


Castlecomer, Ireland

This small Bauer harmonium serial number 5885 is in the Presentation Convent Church in Castlecomer, south east Ireland.


Gilles Bauer 2M/7:12, RFG-4835


Referred to as the Gilles Bauer, this instrument is owned by Rev. Jaap Spaans in the Netherlands and documented on the Web site of Frans van der Grijn http://www.harmoniumnet.nl/trayser_van_webmaster.html. Some of the photographs below are ©Frans van der Grijn (2008). The next one shows the reed pan from this exceptionally large and unusual 2M instrument. It has short bass ranks, breaking at B/c (rather than the usual e/f in other harmoniums). The manual coupler is also split. The upper manual has 3 bass ranks and 4 treble ranks, the lower manual has 4 bass ranks and 8 treble ranks making an impressive 2M/7:12 in total.

Stops are: Bourdon 16', Forte Pneumatic, Diapason 8', Coupler, Flute 4', Dulciana 8', Full Organ, Principal 4', Expression, Musette & Contra Bass 16', Oboe 8' (from Harp Eolienne), Euphonium 32', Voix Celeste II 16', Coupler, Harp Eolienne II 8', Forte Pneumatic, Piccolo 2'.

There are two knee swells for the fixed Forte and Coupler (working bass and treble together). There is also a Grand Jeu heel lever between the treadles.

See http://www.harmoniumnet.nl/tech-gillesbauer-ENGL.html


Fr. Darragh Connolly's 1M6:6

On his Web site, Darragh notes: This is a harmonium, a pressure instrument by Gilbert Bauer of London. It is in pretty poor shape. The case has had a lot of abuse over the years and has some trim missing. This will be quite a challenge to restore but I will be happy to try.

The stop list, at least as far as we could read it, is as follows: Forte Pneumatic, Sustenuto, Fifteenth 2', Harpe Eolienne 2' 2rks, Bassoon 8', Clarion 4', Double Diap Bass 16', Flute Bass 8', Grand Jeu, Expression, Flute 8', Clarionet 16', Octave 4', Oboe 8', Barytone 32', Musette 16', Forte Pneumatic.

Despite the external appearance this is a high quality instrument with some unusual features and should be restored.


Darragh bought this organ from Ian Thompson in May 2016, see https://darraghconnolly.com/organ-restoration.

Emmenegger Orgelbau 2MP

The Web site of Emmenegger Orgelbau of Muttenz near Basel, Switzerland shows restoration work done on a large number of harmoniums and reed organs in addition to pipe organs. One intriguing photograph shows a 2MP Bauer harmonium.


Rodney Reynolds' 1M/2:2

Rod, from Melbourne, Australia, told me: the 9 stop (two rank) Bauer came into my possession by a simple purchase from an antique shop here in Melbourne a couple of years ago. It barely makes a noise as most of the timbers in it have shrunk to the point that everything leaks. A job for another day!

Some time later he sent new information: The Bauer is now speaking again after some ``adjustments''.


Despite the damage, the quality of this instrument is un-mistakeable.

e-Bay item *7221

A standard harmonium with the Bauer label was advertised in Wigan in May 2014. It is said to have been standing for several years in a redundant chapel.

e-Bay item *0532

This is a well finished F-f suction instrumnt with only 5 stops. Two at the extreme left of the keyboard are Diapason Bass, Forte, the middle one is Vox Humana and two at the extreme right are Diapason Treble, Voix Celeste. It has the 1887 gold medal label on it and was for sale by the Kings Lynn British Heart Foundation store in Apr'2017.

Venduehuis.com 2M

Sale on 7/6/2018 Lot 164: 2M Harmonium by Gilbert Bauer (London), c.1895. Notenhouten kas. Manuaal I: Bourdon 16', Voix CĂ©leste 16' (2 ranks, discant), Diapason 8', Oboe 8', Harp Aeolian 8' (2 ranks, discant), Flute 4' and Piccolo 2' (8' uit Harp Aeolian discant). Manuaal II: Euphonion 32' (discant), Musette and Contrabas 16', Dulciana 8' and Principal 4'. Forte pneumatic bas and discant. Coupler bas and discant. Full organ (zowel met registertrekker als met voethevel). Expression.

Is this the same instrument as mentioned above?

e-Bay *7976, Class 6 1M/2:3

This one appeared for sale in Richmond in Mar'2019. It is not labeled Bauer, but the seller noted it is identical to the Class 6 instrument listed on my Web site. It does have the Sunday School Union label of 56 Old Bailey, London, see 31.


Lydbury, 1M/4:5

In summer of 2021 Chris Hampson visited the church of Lydbury North in Shropshire. He found a heavy oak cased harmonium looking very much like a Bauer but having the ``Morton Bros & Co. London'' shop label.

The fairly standard stop list is as follows: Forte, Sourdine, Clarion, Bassoon, Bourdon, Cor Anglais, Expression, Flute, Clarinette, Oboe, Fifre, Vox Celeste, Tremolo, Forte

Unfortunately the instrument was un-playable and was to be offered for sale.

Lot 137

Another large Bauer harmonium appeared for auction on 27/5//2021 in Ashburton, Newton Abbot. It has 22 stops and 3 knee swells.


Serial no.12331 is said to have been built in 1880.

RFG-5680 shows an FFF-f'' range suction instrument said to by Gilbert Bauer.


This does not really seem to be to the usual Bauer standard, but another F-range instrument does, and also carries all the expected labels.


This is another small suction instrument, probably built quite late. It was for sale by Alex in Coventry in Feb'2017. He told me the serial number is 13425.


We have photographs of a number of other small instruments. These include a 1M harmonium (*e5727), another 1M harmonium with one Expression stop (*e9803), a 1M standard harmonium with 13 stops carring the 1887 gold medal label (*e7221), a 1M harmonium sold by J. Herbert Marshall of Leicester and with the 1887 gold medal label (*e2259), another 1M harmonium with one Expression stop (*e2814), a 1M suction instrument (*e0271).

Other small instruments recorded in their day include:

St. Peter, Brooke, Rutland
Holy Trinity, Newton St. Loe, Cornwall
Heworth, York (?)

Rob Allan