Carhart & Needham

The History of Carhart & Needham

The Carhart & Needham company, founded in New York in 1851, produced organs and melodeons (of the organ variety). [1] For those unfamiliar, a melodeon is a small, reed organ that was very popular beginning in the 1840’s. 

Jerahmiah Carhart, one of the company’s founders, is actually credited with coining the name “melodeon” in reference to a reed organ. In addition to creating the name, Carhart created many inventions to soften and refine the melodeon, many of which he either sold or patented. 

When Carhart met Elias Needham, the two forged a friendship that eventually morphed into creating their own namesake company. Carhart & Needham produced organs and melodeons until 1868 when they collaborated with George Prince, in what later was recognized as a very important merging in American musical history. 

About Carhart & Needham Instruments

Carhart & Needham instruments were unique in that they were softer sounding than their predecessors, since they were designed to push their sound inward, rather than outward (thanks to inventions by Carhart that bent the pipes in a way that had not been done before). 

Besides their soothing tone, Carhart & Needham melodeons were beautifully crafted out of exquisite woods. They boast intricate scrolling and hand-carved details that are as beautiful today as they were a century and a half ago. [2]

Restoring a Carhart & Needham

Although they were popular in their time, there are not too many Carhart & Needham instruments that have survived the last century– this serves to help drive up their value. A fully restored Carhart & Needham melodeon can range in today’s market. To find out more about bringing your piece of American history back to life, call Lindeblad and speak with one of our associates today


[1] Pierce, W. Robert. Pierce Piano Atlas: Anniversary Edition, 2017 Our 70th Year. Albuquerque: Ashley, 2017. Print.