DETAILS ON THE DEAGANS


Here I will document my assortment of chimes made by the J.C. Deagan Company.  These antique instruments were used in various settings to attract attention and deliver announcements before modern public address systems were developed.

1 - MILITARY CHIMES: These heavy brass tubular chimes that resonate like tuning forks provide the four notes (F#, B, D# and F#) needed to play all the bugle calls of the armed services.  The five plaques dividing the chimes display the scores for Taps, Reveille, Tattoo, Church and Flag.  My post on the restoration of this set is HERE.

2 - ALTAR CHIMES: These chimes were used to introduce certain occurrences during a religious service.  The brass plaques on this set display the scores for tunes called Sanctus, Benediction, Communion and Offertory.  These three chimes produce G#, C# and F which, interestingly enough, fit right inbetween the four notes of the Military Chimes.  This, my first major restoration project, was featured HERE, and demonstrations of what the two above sets could do when combined were posted HERE and HERE.  In that second clip I showed how manipulating my hands over the sound holes produces a vibrato effect.

3 - THREE-PIECE TUBULAR CHIMES: This set consists of three tube chimes (A, D and F#) that have smaller diameters and a silver finish, mounted on a decorative shield-shaped backboard.  They were used as "Dinner Calls," "NBC Chimes," or other melodic attention-getters.

4 - FIVE-PIECE TUBULAR CHIMES:  This set adds two more notes (A and D in a higher octave) to the three-piece version for a more elaborate chime instrument.  In the video below, notice that these five notes produce a beautiful chord, so that the chimes can be struck in any order and still remain in key.  These two chime sets were in good condition when I found them, so no restoration work besides a routine cleaning was required.

Here is a demonstration of how these various chime sets sound:


5 - PLATE CHIMES: These chime sets were made for home and commercial use, most commonly remembered for their use by porters and stewards aboard passenger trains and cruise ships to notify passengers that meals were being served in the dining car or dining room.  The instruments usually had four or five plates tuned to produce a pleasant-sounding chord (like the five-piece tube chimes above).  The plates are mounted on a hollow wooden box that serves as a resonance chamber to amplify the sound.

Unlike the wall-mounted tubular chimes above, these plate chimes were portable, hand-held instruments played with a small mallet.  In this video clip from an old 1930's movie that takes place on a cruise ship, a steward is seen walking about the deck of the ship playing a set of plate chimes as passengers are making their way into the dining room:


My set of plate chimes was in pretty bad shape and required major restoration, covered in a blog post located HERE.  As a result of this article, another Deagan enthusiast contacted me and shared his quest to attempt and accomplish the same challenge!  See his successful restoration project HERE. Awesome job!

6 - PRECISION TUNING BAR (A=440): This single plate chime was used by piano tuners and music teachers to tune instruments.  The post detailing my extensive restoration work on this musical tool is HERE.

7 - PRECISION TUNING BAR (C=523.3): Same as above but this one required no work (and is a "C" instead of an "A," obviously.

This ends my detailed summary of my Deagan Chimes collection thus far.  The odd thing is, after I collected all these instruments they stopped popping up on eBay as often.  The plate chimes that do go up for auction are usually priced way too high to interest me, and I haven't seen hardly any tubular chimes come available lately.  They are indeed rare and highly sought-after by avid collectors like me!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the plate chimes are what Deagan referred to as a model 300. There were four basic lines of plate chimes, confusingly called the 200, 300, 400, and 20, with a bunch of variations in terms of the design of the resonator box (or in the 200, the color of the metal tube resonators).

David Bohn