It is in Lorraine that the turlutaine or serinette appeared at the beginning of the 18th century. Probably inspired by a fashion of the Court of King Stanislas of Nancy, it was mainly manufactured in Mirecourt.

So well described in the "Art du facteur d'orgues" from dom Bedos de Celle (1766), this small organ with tin pipes, equipped with a pointed cylinder driven by a crank, was first of all intended to give music lessons to the Canary serins, which were then in vogue among the nobility and the upper middle classes. In his "Traité des serins", Hervieux de Chanteloup (1745) indicates the very detailed way of using it.
The names of Bennard (1708-1769), N. Gavot (+ 1774), D. Bourdot (+ 1761) are among the most famous turlutain makers in Mirecourt.

Already in 1737, the serinette was in a good place at the house of the sieur Louis-Pierre Alba "on a table between chairs at the point of Hungary".
Then the use became more widespread and interest was shown in other less fragile birds that could possess musical gifts, such as the bullfinch and the blackbird, which led to the building of small organs with two or three registers named Pionne , Merline or Bouvrette and Perroquette. The latter had nothing to do with the parrot, except that it was more important than the two previous ones!

Musical genres evolved over the years: in the 18th century the repertoires mainly mentioned marches, preludes, jigs and menuets. Later on, vaudeville tunes and finally popular and childish tunes. The last ones produced shortly before 1914 were even sold as toys in the "Manufrance" catalogues!

At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, a great activity developed in the building of barrel organs of all sizes and uses. Wooden pipe registers were then added, allowing for richer sounds. Some even received wooden or brass trumpet registers, as well as percussion.

Some mechanical organs were built for religious use, at the request of the clergy: cylinder organs (Moussey) or dual-purpose cylinder organs with manual keyboard. Nicolas Antoine Lété (1793-1872), Didier Poirot (1806-1894) or Clément-Dumont associated in 1832, were the most famous organ builders.

In the second half of the 19th century, in addition to the building of small street organs, the Concert Militaire appeared. As its name suggests, it had a fanfare function and was particularly furnished with trumpets, cornets and fife, drum and cymbal, with a repertoire mainly composed of marches, quadrilles and waltzes.
These instruments could be used in large halls, music pavilions or later mounted on galloping or carousels. The Poirot Frères from Mirecourt factory was famous for this type of organ and produced at that time its most beautiful models with carved fronts and automata.

If, until then, all these organs had functioned thanks to the system of the pointed cylinder, a revolution appeared with the application by Gavioli, shortly before 1900, of the perforated cardboard borrowed from the so-called Jacquard looms. This system was immediately adopted by the great Parisian organ builders as well as by Poirot Frères in Mirecourt.
However, the Poirot workshop, with its last representative Georges Poirot (1896-1954) continued to produce small cylinder organs, but above all to repair all kinds of mechanical instruments for fairs and streets, both French and foreign. The mechanical organ building activity in Mirecourt stopped after the death of Georges Poirot in 1954, it had lasted nearly two and a half centuries.

Françoise Dussour

From the Serinette to the Fair Organ