The club now called ACMMI was started in 1971 by Barclay Wright (1934-2013), the owner of the Mastertouch Piano Roll company. The aim of the club, then called Music Roll Society of Australia, was to provide support for Mastertouch. However, as time passed members became interested in instruments other than the player piano.
In March 1974, the first club bulletin was issued. It is apparent from the early issues that a key figure was Denis Condon (1933-2012) and that a prime interest among the membership was the reproducing piano. Denis became well-known internationally and locally as a collector of reproducing piano rolls, and was instrumental in introducing these to many people. One of his methods was to hold an open-invitation evening of piano roll performances each alternate month. These began in the early 1970s, and the last was held in 2009, in which up to 70 people would attend.
Australian Collectors of Mechanical Musical Instruments
Barclay Wright with piano roll artist Glenn Amer, at an ACMMI meeting February 2013
Denis Condon in his roll room, holding a Welte-Mignon reproducing piano roll (2006)
An audience gathered during the 1970s for one of Condon's Roll Nights
The March 1975 issue of the bulletin shows that the club name was now Mechanical Music Society of Australia, indicating that the membership was interested in a wider variety of instruments, such as roll playing organs and mechanical zithers. Membership numbers were clearly sufficient to warrant regular meetings and publications.
Although no longer associated with Mastertouch, the club retained an involvement with the company, holding meetings at the Mastertouch premises. Some of those working at Mastertouch were members of the club.
In 1977, the club changed its name to the Australian Collectors of Mechanical Musical Instruments, to accommodate members with interests that included all types of mechanical musical instruments. Today the club has local and international members and links with other similar clubs around the world. A common theme among members is a love of history, especially that of mechanical musical instruments.
For more information about Mastertouch, its artists and Glenn's rolls, see:
The Condon collection of rolls and instruments was purchased by Stanford University in July 2014. For more information see: