Friday, March 14, 2008

Who owns Minimoog serial #1001?

While looking into the lineage of an early-production Minimoog that was on Ebay last week, I got curious as to the whereabouts of Minimoog serial number 1001, the first production unit. We know this much: According to the Moog Archives, Mini #1001 was shipped to Walter Sear on November 19, 1970 (about a year before Bob sold the company to Musonics). Now, Walter was an interesting character, worthy of a future blog post himself. He was involved in marketing Moogs to the New York entertainment industry, and he also did some soundtrack work with synths (electronic scores were the new hip thing that every movie producer wanted in the early '70s). So he purchased several Minis out of the early production run; in addition to #1001, he was also the customer for units 1024, 1033, 1051, and 1062.

Given the number of units that passed through his hands, it wouldn't be a surprise if there was some swapping around of parts in a pinch. But I'm not sure this explains why there appear to be two Minis staking claim to being #1001 now. Contestant number one is in possession of the Eboard Museum in Austria. (I've provided a link to their page that describes most of their extensive collection; unfortunately it's all on one page and there appear to be no anchors in the page to link to. Scroll about 3/4 down.) Here's a photo from the page:

Contestant number two is from the Audities Foundation (which is also in possession of severa Mini prototypes). It should be noted that Audities does not itself claim that this is #1001; however, a Google search revealed three other Web sites (including Raymond Scott's site) claiming that it is. Here's a photo:

The main difference that jumps out at me is that black-on-white badge on the Emuseum one. I don't believe I've ever seen that on any other piece of Moog gear from the R.A. era. I'm not at all sure what to make of that. The other thing that I spot is that the switches near the pitch/mod wheels on the Emuseum one appear to be some kind of generic toggle switch, while the switches on the Audities one look like the switches used on the Model D prototype. Again, I don't at all know what to make of this.
Did Moog make two units numbered 1001? Possibly. It wouldn't be the first time that a company built a set of prototypes under a given set of serial numbers, and then used those numbers again at the beginning of the production run. If one of these is really a prototype, I'd bet on the Emuseum one, based on the fact that it looks rather well used, and the woodwork appears to be a different kind of wood or finish. But if it is a prototype, that raises the question of its lineage and how it got to be where it is now. Did Moog sell it to someone at some point? Did a Moog employee take it home? Did it get dragged from Trumansburg to Williamsville to Buffalo, get stuffed in a corner there, and then sit until the company went under and the assets were sold off? If so, it's kind of remarkable that it still exists at all.

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