Organ Grinder Bookends

06 Apr

These bookends offer a nostalgic reminder of the Organ Grinders with their capuchin monkeys performing for coins on the streets of New York City. In 1887 a ban was placed on using monkeys, apparently the monkeys and their activities were not always appreciated by the audience. In 1936, NY City Mayor Fiorella La Guardia banished the Organ Grinders altogether.    The small organs were played by turning a hand crank which operated a concealed bellows and could produce only a few preprogrammed tunes.  In fact, the organ grinders were beggars, and the monkeys were trained to collect coins with their cups.  People gave the organ grinders money from pity or to encourage them to move away and play their repetitive music elsewhere.

Photo of Organ Grinder Bookends

Organ Grinder with Monkey.  Gray metal, Height 7.5 inches. Inscription: APT – N.Y.

Each bookend shows a disreputable-looking organ grinder leaning against a fire hydrant.  He turns the organ crank while his monkey, which looks like the favored capuchin monkey, brandishes a cup. The fire hydrant in the sculpture is very similar to a LUDLOW VALVE, CO, List 75 Model, from 1874, and made in Troy, NY.

This image was gone by the turn into the 20th century so the bookends are probably quite old.  They are marked APT-N.Y. so we assume they were made in New York, but we have been unable determine the company or the meaning of APT. There are other bookends out there that bear the same inscription.


Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Animals, New York, Victorian


Tags: , , ,

3 responses to “Organ Grinder Bookends

  1. Angela Fox

    March 17, 2015 at 12:30

    I was at a thrift store today and purchased a set of bookends for $6.oo they are marked APT-N.Y. they are of jumping horses I cant find anything on them either any help is appreciated!!!

    • Bookend Collector

      March 23, 2015 at 10:52

      We’ve never been able to find a reference for APT-N.Y. We did spend some considerable time searching the internet for an attribution – but no luck. As you have probably experienced, if you google “APT-N.Y.” you find a lot of apartments to rent. If we ever divine who the manufacturer is we’ll update you.

  2. Chuck De Costa

    April 6, 2014 at 20:58

    Great Organ Grinder Bookends


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