Louis Hooghuys started building mechanical organs around 1880,
his first instruments were provided with a barrel system (the book
system was only patented in 1892 by the French organ manufacturer
The barrel organs were available in various sizes: from the small
and portable ones (mostly with 33 keys) to larger instruments with
up to 123 keys for use on the fairground and in dance halls. Hooghuys
had some standardized models which could be adapted according to
the client's wishes. Like most other organ builders, Hooghuys probably
had a printed catalogue, but no copies seem to have survived the
Old factory pictures indicate that large instruments
had façades that were typical of those days; therefore, it isn't
surprising that these are often very similar with façades from
other (primarily French) manufacturers, like Limonaire and Gavioli.
Since Hooghuys did countless repairs to and restorations of organs
built by others (also by Gebr.Bruder, Riemer, Frati, Poirot, Anciaume,
), it seems probable that at those moments, he got some of his
inspiration for the design of his façades.
Characteristic of Hooghuys organs are the sometimes life-size figures
on the façades; as far as we know, at least two such figures have
been preserved in a private collection although this can't be
proved with absolute certainty, since other manufacturers (e.g.
Limonaire) sometimes also used such figures.
A special mention should be made of the numerous
small barrel organs that were delivered to clients in Binche (B);
in Binche, these instruments locally called "violes" are
still quite popular, and Hooghuys must have sold ánd maintained
several of these organs. It is interesting, for example, that in
Hooghuys' work ledgers there is a tune composed by the "Chef de
Binche" (no further indication given), and that Edgard Hooghuys
composed a march with the title "Binche en avant". There is also
a picture with a group of revellers from Binche on which the 'chief'
is pictured with a small Hooghuys barrel organ.