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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:

  • 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.
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.

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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Ken Durham
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585
All other Inquiries: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com