Open Letter to: Keystone Music Roll Co.
by Craig Brougher

This letter was sent to the Mechanical Music Digest for publication in their daily newsletter. Unfortunately, the editors decided it should not appear in the digest. Just below the letter is the correspondence between Mr. Brougher and the editor of the MMD, Robbie Rhodes.


Are you still in business? I tried to find you on the Google search engine and could only find references to your site from comments made in the MMD.

I would think that your webmaster should keep you up to date in the search engines and a viable source of supply-- unless you wish him to do otherwise.

I have also been reading that various customers have tried to contact your company by phone and letter without success. Are you hiding?

The perforators and equipment you presently own are heirlooms of our nation's musical heritage which you are presently custodians of. They are the only machines which reproduce the live music of the era. I don't feel that at present you have been the proper conscientious and unselfish custodians of these machines, nor could they have possibly made much money for you because of ther way you treat (or rather, igore) your customers. I think you should be ashamed of yourselves, and I believe that I speak for everyone on this point.

Presently, I feel that you have single-handedly curtailed this hobby and the roll business in general, forcing owners of these instruments to look for other ways to get new music into their instruments. If you are tired, or if you are unmotivated, or broke, then I would hope you would put this equipment up for sale at the value that you have depreciated this entire industry to, and give someone else a chance to supply rolls to player piano owners and again raise the level of fun and activity to where it could and should be.There are many advances today in technology and our ability to do greater things. If any endeavor is not moving forward, it will die. So far, Keystone has become the anchor that tens of thousands of enthusiasts have been pulling against.

What you have is not strictly your own. It belongs to everyone who trusts custodians such as yourselves. I am planning to post this letter to the MMD as well, as I wish it to be an open letter. So you are notified, should you wish to read this again, soon.

I and everyone else want to support Keystone Roll Company. I am a friend and wish to remain so. But first and foremost, I also am a custodian in my own right to the preservation of automatic musical instruments, and should soundly condemn the actions of anyone who, for no other reason than perhaps covetousness, disinterest, or poor management, shuts down these machines and closes the door, denying the music and educational opportunities to everyone else, and who, for self-serving interest, takes it away from our children.

Like they say, "Say it isn't so, Keystone." Let us know what your plans are, as they are likewise our own plans.

Craig Brougher
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Correspondence that followed after the letter was rejected
Dear Craig,

I have the feeling that Mr. Groman has gradually moved on other interests and is ignoring the music roll business. 'Tis a shame... Let me know if you get a reply.


Robbie Rhodes

Note to readers:

This letter was first submitted to the Mechanical Music Digest and turned down. I felt that since it is important that as many enthusiasts as possible should read it and wonder what is going on, that it should be published, since Vincent Morgan was told this :

Keystone Music Roll Company
By Vincent Morgan

I spoke with Rich Groman this morning. Keystone Music Roll Co. has moved to new facilities at 2512 Center St., Bethlehem. Rich has been busy both setting up and renovating the old place for a new tenant. He published a limited Duo Art catalog in the summer. He is now busy increasing his inventory in the new facility. The telephone number for sales orders is 1-800-367-8259. From outside the U.S. telephone (1) 610-434-5611. You can also check the web site at

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Final Comment from Mr. Brougher

That has been over a year and a half ago. Keystone has also left orders unfilled, and have not answered the phone or emails. This, to my mind, is totally irresponsible, being conservators of this country's equipment for cutting these historic rolls which in fact belong to everybody, musically and moralistically.

I also feel that in everyone's best interests and to inform them and keep us all up to date, it is the MMD's bound responsibility to publish a letter such as this. I should not have to find somewhere else to take it. If enough readers will complain to Robbie Rhodes regarding necessary supply issues such as this, then perhaps we will start to see a change in this innane non-confrontational policy that affects us all so we can pretend that nothing is wrong. All the while, the value of these instruments is directly tied to the availability of rolls!

So if Mr Groman, who owns Keystone Roll Co. writes us all a reply, I will post it right here on my site and will notify MMD readers that if they wish to read his reply to us all, they will then have to come to my site, where we in fact DO address issues vital to everyone!

Craig Brougher

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A Reply from Richard Groman

To all:

I received a very nice personal letter from Richard Groman, dated April 30, 2002, who says that this past year has been "quite distracting" with moving the company from its old location to its new one. He had underestimated the time and work it would take, apparently.

Richard said that he had greatly underestimated the effort required to move the contents of his factory to its new headquarters. He hopes to begin production again by the the end of this summer so he can again concentrate on more roll output.

I was also grateful for this comment to me: "I must say that your letter has given me pause about the machines and their future. Your ideas about custodianship and gifts to new generations of people have shed new light upon my quandry of what to do with all that is left of the original reproducing roll companies."

He also says that he has been approached several times asking if he would sell the company, "But now, thanks to you, I see that the machines and masters deserve a well-thought-out fate."

In regard to what should ultimately happen to these machines, Richard wrote: "I've decided to look into setting up a foundation and giving stewardship to some institution like the Smithsonian, or my college, etc."

When Richard Simonton gave the Welte masters to, I think, UCLA for safe-keeping, they vanished and have never been seen or heard of, again. This isn't the only time that giving something to an institution, taking a tax writeoff, and watching them all go bye-bye forever has happened many times to many well-meaning donors. Thousands of fantastic exhibits have forever disappeared from the Smithsonian and no one knows what happened to them! If someone wants to make things disappear forever, just donate them to a college or museum.

There is only one way to protect these machines, and that is to sell them to someone who intends to make money with them. If someone desires to keep them operating and will manage it as a business, then they will be protected. Nobody gives a hoot about oily old perforators and unuseable master rolls. Everybody gives a hoot about new player rolls and boxes.

So my fears were not unfounded, at all, it seems. I hope that this letter (as promised) and my reply will prompt Richard and others to realize that educational institutions and museums in this country are not the people to leave these perforators with. They should be purchased and operated. They are far safer in somebody's outbuilding, basement, or garage than they ever would be, owned and stored by a museum or a college. That is worse than the junk yard, because from those places, they can never be retreived again at any price, and the tax writeoff gained is good for one year at the expense of all future generations.

Craig Brougher

I Don't..

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