Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 162,842 pages of information and 245,375 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Simon Robino

From Graces Guide
c1906. 48-key Mandoline Barrell Street Piano. Exhibit at Exmoor Classic Cars
Simon Robino and his wife.

of Manchester

c1866 Born in Italy

1901 Living at 8 Marshall Street, Manchester: Simon Robinao (age 35 born Italy), a Music Marker. With his wife Louisiana Robinao (age 35 born Marseilles, France) and their children Simon Robinao (age 14 1/2 born Marseilles, France), a Music Market; Lena Robinao (age 10 1/2 born Marseilles, France); Silvia Robinao (age 7 born Marseilles, France); Angelina Robinao (age 5 born Marseilles, France); Gertrude Robinao (age 6 Months born Manchester).[1] Note: Robino and Simon are employed as "music markers" which describes the function of marking the position of the notes on the barrel before inserting the pins.

1905 Domenico Antonelli attempts legal injunction against Simon Robino to prevent him carrying on business on his own account but it is rejected by the court.[2]

1906 Trade directory has Robino at 59, Oldham Road, as a musical instrument tuner.

He moved about Ancoats over the years at a number of addresses

1911 Living at 81 Oldham Road, Manchester: Simon Robins (age 46 born - ), a Piano Organ Manufacturer working on own account. With his wife (married 25 years with eleven children and eight living) Toussainte Robins (age 46 born Ajaccio, Corsica) and their children Lena Robins (age 20 born Marseilles), Assisting in the business; Celia Robins (age 17 born Marseilles); Angelina Robins (age 14 born Marseilles), a machinist - shirt maker; Gertrude Robins (age 11 born Manchester); Victor Robins (age 8 born Manchester); Philip Robins (age 6 born Manchester); and Felix Robins (age 4 born Manchester).[3]


JR 2012/07/08 writes

I am the granddaughter of Simon Robino. My father was Victor Robino the second son of Simon Robino who taught my father everything about pinning the organs (i.e. putting the music on the organs.) My father was also a brilliant musician and could play many instruments. After the death of my grandfather the business was left to my father being the only one of the family qualified to do this. He carried on until the Italians entered the war against England when the factory was smashed up together with many other businesses in Ancoats. This, of course, put my father out of business; we were bankrupt. Nevertheless, the Italians would visit our home and ask my father to call and repair their organs. This my father did until he died although not as his full time work.

Also he restored an organ for the Round Table Charity and when he died, aged 59yrs.there was an organ still in the garage that he was restoring. Ironically, a few years ago I went to a Fete and there was an organ being played. Naturally, I was drawn to it and spoke to the gentleman who began to tell me about the history of the barrel organ and talked about Simon Robino being the inventor of the Mandolin Organ to which I proudly said "Yes! I know he is my grandfather" He was astounded; kissed me on both cheeks and began introducing me to his colleagues. He then said "The trouble with you Italians you keep your knowledge to yourselves and take it to the grave." Perhaps he is right!


Roland Antonelli 2019/06/03 writes -

The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry purchased some years ago a barrel piano that bore the name of Robino. I had contested in the past that Robino never had the carpentry skills to make piano,s but that he purchased second hand piano’s and re-labelled them having done some repair work on them and/or repainted in his colours. This was common practice in the industry and is well recorded.

As the museum has a high reputation for the accuracy of its exhibits, I was able to arrange a meeting with the Director of Intellectual Property spending over 2 hours checking checking my “documentary” evidence. Within seven days I received a response to say that they had amended their records to the effect that the piano was not original to Robino and accepted that he was not an original builder of street piano’s or organs.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1901 Census
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 14 October 1905
  3. 1911 Census