My Photo

    This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from american fez. Make your own badge here.

Pepys' People


  • Email Address:
  • Website:
  • Location: United States


Period literature often represents the organ grinder as a gentleman of ill repute or as an unfortunate representative of the lower classes. Newspaper reporters would sometimes describe them cynically or jocularly as minor extortionists who were paid to keep silent, given the repetitious nature of the music. Later depictions would stress the romantic or picturesque aspects of the activity. Whereas some organ grinders were itinerants or vagabonds, many were recent immigrants who chose to be street performers in order to support their families. Those who actually owned their barrel organs were more likely to take care of them and pursue the "profession" more seriously.
The grinder would crank his organ in a public place (either a business district or in a neighborhood), moving from place to place after collecting a few coins or in order to avoid being arrested for loitering or chased by persons who would not appreciate hearing his single tune over and over again. The grinder would often have as a companion a White-headed Capuchin monkey to do tricks and attract attention. The monkey would collect the money from the audience and sometimes collect other shiny objects that attracted his attention.