Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pipe Organ

Thomas Appleton (American, 1785–1872)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Mahogany veneer, rosewood veneer, pine, gilt, ivory, ebony, maple, walnut, chestnut
16 ft. 1 in. × 9 ft. 3 in. × 9 ft. (490.2 × 281.9 × 274.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Margaret M. Hess Gift, in memory of her father, John D. McCarty, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 683
This organ is the oldest and finest extant product of the renowned Boston craftsman Thomas Appleton (1785-1872). Built in 1830, probably for South Church in Hartford, Connecticut, it was reinstalled by Emmons Howard in 1883 at Sacred Heart Church in Plains, Pennsylvania, where it was discovered unused and neglected in 1980. The organ's conservative tonal design and mahogany Greek Revival case reflect British models of the late 18th century. Standing over 15 feet tall, with gold-leafed façade pipes (diapasons), the organ comprises 16 ranks totaling 836 pipes, two 58-note manuals, and a 27-note pedalboard added when it was reinstalled (1883). Wind is supplied by hand- pumped bellows. The pipes of the upper manual are mainly enclosed in an elevated box with louvers that can be opened by means of a pedal for dynamic expression. The rest of the manual pipes are disposed above the recessed console, while the blowing apparatus and key and stop mechanisms occupy the lower part of the case. The pedal rank rests on a separate windchest behind the case. The tuning employed is Young temperament (1800) pitched at A=435.7 Hz.
Appleton's carving and joinery are particularly skillful. Before being hired by the prominent organ builder William Goodrich in 1807, Appleton had served an apprenticeship with the cabinet maker Elisha Larned, doubtless under the influence of his father, a house carpenter. Following a period of partnership with the piano makers Hayt and Alpheus Babcock, Appleton opened his own shop in 1820. In 1839 the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association awarded him a gold medal, and his reputation continued to grow until he retired in 1869, by which time his numerous instruments were serving churches as distant as California and South Carolina.

Stop list:
Great (lower manual)
Open diapason 8’
Stopt diapason 8’
Stopt diapason bass 8’
Dulciana 8’
Principal 4’
Flute 4’
Twelfth 2-2/3’
Fifteenth 2’
Sesquialtera III
Trumpet treble 8’
Trumpet bass 8’

Swell (upper manual)
Open diapason 8’
Stopt diapason 8’
Stopt diapason bass 8’
Principal 4’
Hautboy 8’

Subbass 16’

Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
#939. Kids: Pipe Organ
For Audio Guide tours and information, visit
Jayson Kerr Dobney, Bradley Strauchen-Scherer. Musical Instruments: Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. First Printing. @2015 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2015, p. 6, p. 116, ill.

Ed. Laurence Libin. The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. second. Oxford, 2014, vol. One, pg. 114.

Martin Souter in Sounds of Splendor: Music by Handel, C.P.E. Bach, Mozart and Stanley. CD. Recording., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998.

Martin Souter in Let the Pipes Rejoice: Christmas organ music. CD. Recording., Isis Records. New York, 1997.

A Checklist of American Musical Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 16.

"Keyboard Instruments." Summer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), Vol. 47, No. 1, pg. back cover, ill.

Ed. John P. O'Neill. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The United States of America. Third 2005. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1987, pg. 50-51, fig. 35, ill.

American Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pg. 32, fig. 18, ill.

"Notable Acquisitions 1982-1983: Musical Instruments." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1983), pg. 45, ill.

"Notable Acquisitions 1981-1982: Musical Instruments." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1982), pg. 35, ill.

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