The label on the back of the relic model, typewritten by noted Johnson organ historian John Van Varick Elsworth in 1948, states that the model was made from relic wood salvaged from an earlier 19th-century church organ that was in use from 1852 to 1898 in Trinity Church of Watertown, New York, and that the wood came “from the low GGG pipe of the Pedal 16′ Bourdon.” According to the label, in 1898 Trinity installed a new organ (also by the Johnson firm but not otherwise related to the Johnson organ at Stockbridge). Presumably that was when the relic wood from the former organ at Trinity from which the offered Stockbridge model was made became available. Accordingly, this model was likely made soon after 1898, but definitely no later than 1948, the date on Elsworth’s label.
According to records of the Organ Historical Society, the original Johnson Stockbridge organ was replaced in 1980 by a new organ using the old pipes and part of the case. The remainder of it was presumed as of 2015 to be no longer extant. Further research also reveals that the Trinity Church organ from which the relic wood was derived was originally installed in a building erected in 1850-51. It was a two-manual tracker organ containing 20 stops known as the Opus No. 114 and made by a different company, E. & G.G. Hook of Boston, Massachusetts.
The William A. Johnson Organ Company of Westfield, Massachusetts, and its successor, the Johnson & Son Organ Company, was one of the greatest and most prolific American pipe organ manufacturers of the 19th century. They manufactured 860 pipe organs between 1844 and 1898 for use throughout North America.
John Van Varick Elsworth (1905-1971) was a scholar of pipe organs with a particular interest in the Johnson company. Along with Donald R.M. Paterson, he was the author of Johnson Organs: The Story of One of Our Famous American Organ Builders (see References below).
Brass Label on Front: Johnson-Opus 183 – 1865/ Stockbridge Mass
Type Written Label Verso: The wood in this model is from the low GGG pipe of the Pedal 16′ Bourdon from the old organ which stood in the old Trinity Church, Watertown, N.Y. from 1852 to 1890, when the present Church was built. The organ was used in the new church until 1898, when the Johnson organ was installed. John Van Varick Elsworth, 1948.
Condition: Generally very good, with light handling and wear, including some minor restroed chips and abrasions to wood surface, and slight warping of the wood.
Elsworth, John Van Varick and Donald R. M. Paterson. Johnson Organs: The Story of One of Our Famous American Organ Builders. Boston Organ Club Chapter Organ Historical Society: 31 October 1984.
“Johnson Organs.” Wikipedia. 29 November 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_Organs (24 August 2017).
Ochse,Orpha. The History of the Organ in the United States. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1988. Online at Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=WZwGUS_iam4C&pg=PA229 (24 August 2017).
“The Great Organ.” Trinity Episcopal Church. http://trinitywatertown.org/music-arts/the-great-organ/ (24 August 2017).
“Wm. A. Johnson Opus 183 (1865).” The Organ Historical Society Database. 2016. http://database.organsociety.org/OrganDetails.php?OrganID=10435 (24 August 2017).