The New International Encyclopædia/Harmonium

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HARMO'NIUM (Neo-Lat., from Gk. ἁρμόνιος, harmonios, harmonious). A reed organ with bellows which are operated by the feet of the performer. The tone is produced by free vibrating reeds. The harmonium is a development from the older regal (q.v.). In 1810 Grenié exhibited the first harmonium, which he called orgue expressif, because this instrument was capable of greater expression, as well as of producing a crescendo and diminuendo. A. Debain, of Paris, improved it, and first gave it the name of harmonium when he patented his instrument in 1840. A complete revolution in the construction of the harmonium was begun in America when a mechanic who had worked in the factory of Alexandre in Paris emigrated to America. This man conceived the idea of a suction bellows, instead of the ordinary bellows which forced the air outward through the reeds. The firm of Mason & Hamlin, of Boston, in 1860 made their instruments with the suction bellows, and this method of construction soon superseded all others.