Historic 1896 George Jardine & Son Tracker Organ
The overall tonal design of the instrument is reflective of American organ building of the 19th century. The great division includes a well-voiced 16’ principal, and a 4’ Harmonic Flute, typical of instruments from the Jardine firm. As such, the principals have wide scales, giving the organ a marvelously warm and enveloping quality. Two 2’ stops and a 4-rank mixture add clarity and brilliance to the ensemble.
Among the more famous organs built by the company were the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York; St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York; Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York; Brooklyn Tabernacle; St. Agnes Church, Brooklyn; Pittsburgh Cathedral (Trinity Episcopal Church); Trinity Church, San Francisco; Mobile Cathedral; and Christ Church, New Orleans. For a more complete list of organs built by the Jardine company visit the George Jardine & Son web page at the Organ Historical Society.
The instrument has a completely mechanical action which is known as a “tracker” organ. In a tracker organ, the organist presses keys and pulls stops which control the organ’s pipes and couplers through a complex matrix of levers and valves. In a tracker organ, the valve, which admits air to the pipe in order to produce the sound, is directly controlled by the force of the organist’s finger on the key.
The organist must overcome the wind pressure resistance on each valve in order to open it and play the pipe. When one rank is combined with another rank as a tracker organ is played, the keys generally become more difficult to depress. Another limitation of the tracker organ is that the console must remain relatively close to the pipes and wind chests. This is why most tracker organs have the console built as an integral part of the organ’s case. There are a few exceptions, but generally, the console must be no more than a few feet from the pipes.
George Jardine & Sons:
George Jardine (1800-1882) was a British barrel organ maker who immigrated to the United States in the early 1830s and established his shop in New York City. His firm met with great success in constructing church and concert hall organs. It is said that George Jardine was greatly influenced by his contemporary French counterparts, among them Aristide Cavaille-Cole. The firm became the second largest organ-building house in the city behind his competitor, Henry Erban.
In 1855, George’s son, Edward, joined the firm and apprenticed under his father. Edward took control of the firm in 1871. George Jardine retired completely from the business in 1880. It was under Edward’s direction and guidance we believe that the United Methodist Church of New Brunswick’s organ was built and installed.
The organ was dedicated at a Thanksgiving night recital. The article not only describes the concert, but goes into detail about the instrument itself. There were no pictures included in the newspaper article. The text of the article as published in the Friday, November 27th, 1896 issue of The Daily Times reads: