Limonaire Frères were an amusement ride and street organ builder, based in Paris, France, during the 19th and early 20th century. In the heyday of La Belle Époque, only the other Parisian firm of Gavioli was larger.
Started by the Limonaire brothers in 1839, the company became famous for their elegant Art Nouveau facades and unique orchestral sound. After restructuring in 1887, the company expanded so well based on book-based organs, that they opened a factory in the German Black Forest town of Waldkirch, center of fairground organ building industry. This became the start of the height of the company, producing organs under the brand name "Orchestronphone" trade name, often incorporating a bioscope. After the death of Anselmo Gavioli in 1902, the Gavioli business had started to decline, and eventually its remains and patents were bought from the administrators by Limonaire Frères in 1912. A number of engineers choose not to transfer, and went on to build their own organ companies, including Carl Frei.
The confiscation of the German factory in 1917 during World War I, signalled the end of peak prduction. Returned to the company in 1921, in 1926 Limonaire sold their German business to Alfred Bruder, who continued building organs.
Limonaire never opened an office in the United States, due to the imposition from 1892 of high import tariffs by the United States Government. In 1893, carousel builder William Herschell traveled to London, England to meet Limonaire employee Eugene de Kleist. Backed by Herschell, in 1893 DeKeist set up band organ production in North Tonawanda, New York, founding the North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory. As parts were not subject to the import tariffs, many of the companies early organs had Limonaire components.
Today, due to their fine note and high quality, Limonaire organs are considered highly collectable.
- "Limonaire Freres---Paris". Mills Novelty. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
- Tim Trager (20 April 2008). "Some History on Limonaire Freres And Its Famous Band Organs". Carousel News. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
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