Estey Organ Company

Play Audio

  • The story of Jacob Estey, from humble beginnings to international success

  • How does a reed organ work?

  • Jacob Estey's power of words & imagery to promote Estey Organs

  • Explore the Estey Organ Museum

About

For nearly a century, the name Estey was synonymous with reed organs. The Estey Organ Company was recognized worldwide as a leader in instrument design, manufacturing, and marketing.

Cultural Influencer Estey’s dominance in the market was due in large part to the company’s innovations in both design and marketing. Estey organs accompanied Christian missionaries throughout the world and spread the Brattleboro name far and wide.

“Jacob Estey’s use of period imagery was the most influential element in his advertising,” research leader Dennis Waring says, “but his exploitation of standard marketing phraseology—the largest, most perfect, new, improved, worldwide—made a deep impression on developing consumer mentality and advertising itself.”

Women of Estey Jacob Estey’s progressive ethos helped shape the image of Vermont itself. He was recognized not only for business acumen but for his commitment to the town of Brattleboro and care and concern for his workers. The Estey Organ Company employed a large workforce, many of whom were highly specialized craftsmen. For many years Estey was the largest employer in the state of Vermont. Estey employed master woodcarvers, designers, engineers, and inventors, many of whom who came from Europe to work for Estey. Jacob Estey’s progressive views towards his workforce extended to female employees. Estey believed that women had the right to do any work for which they were capable, and that their compensation should be equal to their male counterparts. A permanent exhibit in the Estey Organ Museum documents the Women of Estey. Estey also underwrote the first building in the U.S. intended specifically for the higher education of black women in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Audio Segments

(1) - Estey Organ Company - Who was the most successful person in Brattleboro in the late 19th century? The story of Jacob Estey is a classic one, telling of a rise from humble beginnings to manufacturer of a half million organs distributed all over the world, each one bearing the name of Brattleboro above the keyboard.

(2) - The Estey Organ - How does a reed organ work? What are stops? Learn about how to achieve a variety of sounds by pumping pedals.

(3) - Promoting the Estey Organ - In the late 1800’s how did you advertise a product without radio and television? Jacob Estey knew the power of words and imagery and used them in clever ways to promote his organs.

(4) - The Estey Organ Museum - Explore the Estey Organ Museum housed in one of the historic buildings on the factory grounds. It is the only musical instrument museum in the world where visitors are encouraged to sit down and play.

Tour Stop Location: Estey Organ Museum

108 Birge Street, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301, United States

Photos

  • <p>The Estey Organ - photo courtesy Estey Organ Museum</p>
  • <p>Estey Organ promotions - photo courtesy Estey Organ Museum</p>
  • <p>Estey Organ Promotions2 - Photo Courtesy Estey Organ Museum</p>
  • <p>Estey Organ Museum - experiential opportunity</p>
  • <p>Estey Organ Company, photo credit: Estey Organ Museum</p>

Research & Production

Audio Production: Sally Seymour
Research & Commentary: Dennis Waring & Barbara George

Ongoing Development and Involvement:
As a community-created project, we encourage ongoing dialogue, questions, and engagement. If you would like to be involved in future developments, have information or a perspective that could deepen others' understanding of this topic, please contact us.