Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information


The lifetime collection of Ray Siou (1925-2013) including mechanical music rolls, player pianos, and orchestrions will be auctioned at Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland, California, July, 13-14th 2013 as part of their important Fine Arts and Antiques Sale.

Orchestrions and player instruments had their heyday at the turn of the 20th century before radio or television. They played rolls. For the big orchestrions, multiple rolls were necessary to play a song. Mechanical music rolls are long strips of paper with holes punched at intervals and come in as many different types and varieties as the pianos, band organs, or orchestrions that play them. These rolls are based on the punch cards originally used in textile mills to make jacquard fabric. Essentially, they are an early computer programing mechanism. When threaded into a player piano or orchestrion, the instrument ‘plays’ by following the holes in the paper roll. Mechanical music machines ceased to be popular with the general public as radios became more affordable and can now be found only rarely. A die-hard group of collectors and enthusiasts remain, however. Ray Siou was a part of this group, serving as a member and “Honor Roll” inductee of AMICA the Automatic Musical Instrument Collector’s Association which will be holding its 50th anniversary convention the weekend of July 14th in San Francisco.

Ray collected for decades. When he retired from the family business he bought two player pianos on a whim. The pianos came with large collections of paper rolls and Ray was hooked. Ray Siou became the “Roll Mogul” using his impressive collection of rolls as templates to re-cut difficult to find types and titles. Ray sold his new rolls to collectors and institutions at modest prices. His pricing and large selection helped institutions across the country build or rebuild collections. For example, Roy helped the caretakers of Glen Echo Park in Maryland build a collection of rolls for their historic 1921 Denzel Carousel whose music is played on a 1926 Wurlitzer Band Organ using mechanical rolls. If you ever visit the park, think of Ray as you take a leisurely trip back to a more gentile era while listening to one of the last publicly played orchestrion’s in America.

Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland will bring Ray
Siou’s private collection to market this July. Among the offerings will be a “Ray Siou Special” orchestrion, a Seeburg E Special Orchestrion, and a 1928 Steinway Duo-Art Grand Piano. Clars will also offer his remaining inventory of antique and re-cut mechanical music rolls.

For complete information on Clars July 13 and 14, 2013 Fine Arts and Antiques Auction, please visit, call (510) 428-0100 or email: [email protected]. A complete catalog of all lots to be offered will be available online one week prior to the sale.
Previews for this sale will be Friday, July 12th , from 1pm to 6pm and beginning at 9am on both Saturday, July 13th and Sunday, July 14th or by special appointment.

Bidding for Clars auctions is available in person, by phone, absentee and live online @, and through and Clars Auction Gallery is located at 5644 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609.