Increasingly, coin machine collectors are starting to add music boxes to their collections. It is
now not unusual to see music boxes, coin operated and non-coin operated, at the major slot
machine/jukebox shows around the country.
If you want to learn more about the kinds of automatic music that existed prior to jukeboxes, the
"bible" is Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by Q. David Bowers.
It's encyclopedia in scope. It's pages in length. In other words, it's exhaustive. It covers music
boxes, player pianos, orchestrions, fair organs, calliopes, reproducing pianos and the variations
of automatic mucic machines that have been made in Europe, America, and Great Britain over
the years. For example, it contains:
This hardcover book weighs almost 7 pounds (I don't believe I ever described a book before in
terms of its weight). The book is jammed full of photos and illustrations, many taken from old
catalogues. There is no other book that comes close to this one in its scope or comprehensive.
The only other book that comes close is the recently published The Musical Box. It
is much less comprehensive, but more explanatory in how music boxes work.
- 81 pages on cylinder music boxes and their makers,
- 155 pages on disc music boxes,
- 88 pages devoted to piano players, player pianos, and reproducing pianos,
- 393 pages on coin operated pianos and orchestrions,
- 63 pages on organettes, player pipe organs and player reed organs of all types,
- 143 pages devoted to fairground organs of all types, including carousel organs, dance hall
organs, and calliopes,
- 63 pages devoted to a Dictionary of Automatic Musical Instruments Terms, an extensive
Bibliography, and Index.
Unfortunately, just like the music boxes themselves, the books on automatic music are hard to
find, and when you do, they are expensive. The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments
is almost impossible to find, and when you can, it costs close to $100. (In comparison, The
Musical Box book costs $79.95). In other words, if you want to get into music boxes, you are
going to have to make some serious investments both in machines and books.
Click below to order book:
Click Here to Order Book
Copyright: 1996 Ken Durham
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