Timeline

11 March 1855

Birth of Theophile Mortier

Theophile Mortier in 1905Theophile Mortier is born in Oostkamp, near Bruges.

11 March 1855

1877

Theophile moves to Antwerp

16 June 1877

Theophile gets married

Theophile marries Joanna Vermeulen en becomes an innkeeper.

16 June 1877

1884

Theophile opens a dance hall

In the Bredastraat, behind the houses with nos. 54 and 56, Theophile has a dance hall constructed: 'Nieuwe Variétés'. There he places automatically playing organs, mostly built by Gavioli in Paris.

Dance hall 'Nieuwe Variétés'

1895

Theophile starts his own organ company.

1895

24 July 1905

Guillaume Bax joins the Mortier firm

Guillaume BaxGuillaume Bax joins the Mortier firm. As a foreman his decisions are of crucial importance for the development of the organs. His sons August, Jules and Louis will also be employed by Mortier.

26 August 1919

Limited Company

Mortier decides to handle matters in a more professional way and the firm is transformed into a Limited Company.

Usines Th.Mortier Société Anonyme

26 August 1919

1 December 1925

Roll-playing orchestrions

The firm decides to build piano-orchestrions playing on rolls but these are not successful.

Roll-playing piano orchestrion, model 35

1927

Jazzband organs

A new type of dance organ, the 'Jazzband organ', is introduced. These organs have a deviating scale: 12 bass and 5 accompaniment notes, 19 notes on countemelody, 23 on melody and extensive percussion. Basses, accompaniments, countermelody and melody actually form one chromatic range of notes. However, the jazzband organs were not successful: presumably only about six of them were built.

1927

1927

Orchestrions

The firm now concentrates on the sale of orchestrions and therefore has two catalogues printed: one in postcard size and a more luxurious version with a cover printed in colour. The sale of orchestrions will show an upward trend.

Cover of orchestrion catalogue in postcard size

1929

Crisis

The Mortier firm doesn't escape from the worldwide crisis: the sale of instruments is simmering. Some of the staff members are dismissed. To turn the tide, the firm starts a sales department with agents, amongst whom Oscar Grymonprez.

1929

1934

Accordions

Mortier starts to integrate accordions into his dance organs. During modernisations, many organs are also equipped with an accordion. It is noteworthy that these accordions often had two piano keyboards. They were often installed in an 'accordion box' attached to the front of the organ.

Mortier accordion on Mortier organ #1047

28 January 1939

Electrosax

Mortier is granted the patent on an invention entitled 'Installtion to amplify acoustic vibrations'. The invention consists of a microphone registering the vibrations of a vibratone pipe. The microphones are connect to an amplifier which sends the sound to a speaker mounted inside the saxophone on the façade. Mortier marketed this invention under the name 'Electrosax'.

Drawing of the Electrosax

28 January 1939

Second World War

The war years

During the second World War the production was nearly at a standstill: only a few orchestrions were delivered. A part of the factory buildings was rented to manufacture razor blades.

28 December 1944

Decease of Theophile Mortier

Theophile Mortier dies on 28 December 1944. He is buried in Merksem.

Tomb of Theophile Mortier-Joanna Vermeulen

28 December 1944

1948

Last large dance organ

In 1948 Mortier manufactures the last large dance organ: the 112-key 'The Rambler' (#1092) for organ renter Frans De Maeyer.

112-key Mortier organ #1092 'The Rambler' - Frans De Maeyer

11 April 1952

Liquidation

The firm is officially put into liquidation. Whatever remains of materials etc. is sold. So the arranger Louis Somers buys a punching machine from the inventory.

Deed of the liquidation of the Mortier firm, dated 11 April 1952

11 April 1952

7 May 1954

René Van Den Bosch

On 7 May 1954 René Van Den Bosch officially acquires the trade name 'Mortier'. For many years he will build outstanding (semi-)electronic organs with the name 'Mortier' (without 'Th.') on the façade. He also rebuilt numerous instruments.

René Van Den Bosch

2019

The Mortier Story - the book

In 2019 'The Mortier Story' is published, the long-awaited book about the history of the Mortier family and firm and the instruments built by the Mortier firm.

Book cover 'The Mortier Story

2019


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