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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Monkeying Around - Sepia Saturday

As you get older your memory plays tricks with you; it did with me when I saw this week's prompt.


Back in my wartime childhood it wasn't an organ grinder that turned up at our door, rather...

An itinerant knife grinder
(Bi
çakçi - by a Greek artist c1809)
Mind you our visitor's equipment was more up to date and there wasn't a monkey. His sharpening stone was pedal driven rather like the one below.

Child watching knife grinder at work
(Relief on Buchanan House, St Jame's Square by Newbury Abbot Trent, sculptor (1885-1963) - By Weglinde, Gordon Lawson, 260311 CC BY-SA 3.0)

I understand that an organ grinder is an itinerant street musician who earns a living by playing a hand organ or hurdy-gurdy. This confuses me further as I thought a hurdy-gurdy was a stringed instrument. Perhaps Mike will help us out because if we follow Churchill's advice we should never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

Street organs come in all shapes and sizes from those carried on the organ grinder's back to barrel organs the size of a small piano pushed on a set of wheels - often with a monkey on top.

Edward Williams Clay - Organ grinder with monkey
(Ink and watercolour illustration - satirical cartoon, Paris c1828)
Organ grinder's monkey licking a juice bottle top
(By Thomas Quine - January 2006 - CC BY 2.0)
It seems to have been common for the monkey to be on a lead or attached by a chain to the organ.

Buchanan House has another relief to confirm this is this case.

Organ grinder
(Relief on Buchanan House, St Jame's Square by Newbury Abbot Trent, sculptor (1885-1963) - By Weglinde, Gordon Lawson, 290311 CC BY-SA 3.0)

For some reason or another I have associated barrel organs and their monkeys with local fairs. But in the late 1950s neither made it to this photo.

Pat and Bob at Stamford Fair
It was only a few years after this that we were attached by an unbroken chain. 

Organ grinder with monkey on chain
(1892 - Library of Congress)
However we did manage to find some monkeys of our own,

Two monkeys (or four?)
Nearly fifty years on I was pleased to find that monkey men are still around, not that I have seen any of late.

Organ grinder at local Harvest Festival
( 20 Oct 2007 - by Kathy, from a small town in SW PA, USA = CC BY 2.0)
But enough monkeying around it's time to see what other monkey tricks you can find at Sepia-Saturday-244.

13 comments:

Jo said...

You know, I don't think I have ever seen an organ grinder and monkey. May not have been around in Kent but I would have thought, living in London for 4 years, I might have seen one. Love the last pic. So bright and colourful.

Karen S. said...

Bob, you two look great at the fair! I really enjoyed this post, right up with my favorite things. Perfect photos too!

Wendy said...

I wish a knife grinder would come to my door!

I love the way you segued your way through this post.

La Nightingail said...

Love the "Two monkeys or four?" shot. What cute little boys - and being boys, it was just natural they'd behave like little monkeys once in a while. I have a younger brother, a son, and three grandsons so I know! :)

Little Nell said...

Perfect post, welcome back!

Deb Gould said...

Great shot of the two of you in the late 1950s; I remember men's coats with wide belts like that...and those two "monkeys" of your own...very cute boys!

Jo Featherston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo Featherston said...

I feel like I might have seen a monkey with an organ grinder somewhere, perhaps at Covent Garden, I don't know, but do they dance to the music? Dressing up monkeys seems cruel even if they've been bred in captivity and have never known anything else.

genepenn said...

It only seems such a short time ago but we did see an Organ Grinder with a monkey in Graz in Austria in 1986. I think the Societies that protect the welfare of animals are much more prevalent now.

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

The photo of the little boys holding the monkeys is precious. They look very serious. ha!

Postcardy said...

I remember seeing an organ grinder in Mexico City many years ago, but I can't remember whether he had a monkey.

Alex Daw said...

I like the bas reliefs you posted from Buchanan House. They're really beautiful.

boundforoz said...

A most interesting versatile collection.