This is the spectacular Cumston Hall, located in Monmouth ... in the heart of town.
We thought that any mention of Monmouth, Maine should begin with a view of this unique building, comprising a Public Library and Rococo style Concert hall — also including the Municipal Offices, until recently. Here, we attend stellar productions of Shakespeare plays as well as Restoration comedy by Goldsmith and witty opuses by Shaw.
At the end of 2001, Lynne Chick — of 'Weave Works' — was asked by the Monmouth Museum, just down the street, to create a 'window display', and this is where the Internet and ARTCRAFT Music Rolls came in. Her idea was to ask the question: What do Looms, Computers and Player-Pianos have in common? ... and then answer the query with a show-and-tell exhibit, in a store window, which is part of the town's historic building district.
This is the Monmouth Museum, where Lynne's Loom+IBM card+Pianola roll display was in the right, front window ... accessible to all who walk through the peaceful Maine village.
This exhbit was created for passers-by, primarily, who could view the articles and read the papers, some with accompanying pictures. Photographing through both a window pane PLUS a rippled protective plastic screen represented a major challenge. However, even with the fuzziness that these conditions imposed, you can get an idea of the visual presentation:
Squint carefully, enough, and you'll see an old Vocalstyle Roll, from the mid-'Twenties, in the middle of the layout. (It's a Mary Allison arrangement under her "Hilda" pseudonym, a bouncy formula Fox Trot of the day.)
Of course, the true focus was on the weaving aspect, as it should be. The Jacquard loom was illustrated, along with pictures of the development of mechanical weaving machines; you can see a tartan "in progress", on the small loom (at the left of the second photograph). This is where everything began ... leading to the Monotype (for the printing industry), the Auto-Typist (for word processing), the so-called "IBM card" (which began with the U.S. Census, in the 1890s) and ... prior to the fully-electronic personal computers of today, our favourite invention: the pneumatically-operated Player-Piano, using perforated paper rolls. Indeed, everything displayed or illustrated in this museum window operated through perforated cards, strips or paper rolls!
We were happy to provide pictures and information for this fascinating exhibit ... and yes, that's a printout of our Leabarjan #5 perforator working on an Ampico master of CANADIAN CAPERS, to the right of the unfurled Vocalstyle roll! An upright 'reproducing' piano, from the ARTCRAFT Website, was also featured in the backdrop, printed from our Internet pages.
With the 2001 closing-down and selling-off of Maine's Jacquard looms, for bedspreads made by the Bates Manufacturing Company, along with the exodus of the Auto-Typist in 1975, due to IBM's magnetic typewriters ... plus the Monotype fading from the scene, and, hopefully, the slipshod nature of punch cards for voting machines, this leaves the venerable Pianola as the "winner" in the field of perforated 'controls'. The pneumatic player actions are still being built, today, and many old Player-Pianos have already outlasted electronic solenoid players which went to landfills, since one can rebuild a Pianola again and again, much as one restores an old house or a treasured piece of furniture.
We thank 'Weave Works' for asking us to participate in their fascinating chronology exhibit, which began with mechanical looms and continued in many creative directions, as the decades progressed.
We'll close with some more views of Monmouth, with a special emphasis on the newly-renovated Cumston Hall, an architectural gem and a cultural treasure for Maine, especially when those talented Shakespeare casts are on the stage!
ARTCRAFT Music Rolls — Virtuoso Rolls for the Player and 'Reproducing' Piano
L. Douglas Henderson
PO Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578 USA
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