Animal Rentals Blog


April 18, 2015 by Animal Rentals

One could probably say street performers have been around since streets were invented. It is estimated that the first organ grinder appeared about 300 years ago.   They were crude, very small with only a few notes. Originally designed as an aid to encourage canaries to sing, one day an enterprising young man in need of money took one of these organs outside and played it.  Over the years the organs improvedThe larger they grew,  the more pipes were added. Soon they were capable of playing complex melodies with many different notes.

Like any street performer in the 17th and 18th century the organ grinder himself was the subject of adoration as well as contempt. What was looked upon as entertainment by some was viewed as begging by others. The inventions of the radio and phonograph would come years later leaving the melody of the organ grinder the only source for music and dancing. People would give the organ grinder coins to show their appreciation. Organ grinders at this time were disliked because they were typically foreigners and sometimes used small children in their acts. Then someone came up with the idea of using an animal.

Many animals were incorporated to attract attention to the organ grinder. Birds, cats, and dogs were just a few. While they were all successful to a point, there was no one around to collect the money. Monkeys were often used because they possessed a thumb that allowed them to carry a cup to hold coins. Today, if you ask anyone to give you a description of an organ grinder they will tell you, “a man dressed in old clothes and floppy hat with a monkey playing music”.

Bill Hoffman crisscrossed the country with Mr. Adam Monk as one of the last remaining organ grinders with a monkey. Shopping malls, auto dealerships, grand openings and just anyone who wanted to attract people hired Bill and Mr. Monk to do what their forefathers had done: amuse and entertain the audience. They did it well. The brightly colored organ, the whimsical, old fashioned music and the delight in seeing a real live monkey beckons them to come. The times may have changed but the people have not. They listened and danced to the music and to show their appreciation place some coins in the monkey’s cup.


No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Animal Rentals, Inc., licensed by the USDA, is fully insured and has been in business for over 40 years.