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Five Must Have Mechanical Music Collectibles for the Music Box and Antique Collector
Some music box and antique collectors may not realize that there are other forms of mechanical music to collect in addition to inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, ballerina music boxes, antique cars, antique jewelry, and other collectibles. These include Bird Organs, Barrel Pianos, the Pianola, the Welte-Mignon Orchestrion, and the Racca piano.
The Bird Organ
The bird organ is a small type of barrel organ about 6 inches square. The name comes from a type of barrel organ used to teach canaries how to sing. High pitched pipes which played simple tunes were used to teach a bird how to mimic the tune. Also known as "Serinettes", there is one collectible in Paris that dates back to 1765. While some of these mechanical collectibles do not play well, they still make interesting items for the music box and antique collector.
For collectors, finding a barrel piano developed by Joseph Hicks is possible. Hicks made an upright pianoforte, which was played with a pinned barrel. These collectibles were seen all over England at one point and a large number were made with handcarts so that they could be played and wheeled in the streets. Finding a barrel piano is not difficult since there are many on the market.
The Welte-Mignon Orchestrion
Invented in 1887 by Emile Welte of the Welte-Mignon company, the Welte-Mignon Orchestrion is a paper roll that can be used with pianos or organs. An expansion of Welte's invention was orchestrions, which were made to be placed in large homes or assembly rooms. David Tallis stated in "Music Boxes: A Guide for Collector's": "A typical Welte orchestrion had forty-four notes which play on eight stops or ranks of pipes with the addition of a percussion section; triangle, snare drum and bass drum. The music played by these instruments is largely operatic, but marches and popular melodies can be found".
The pianola is a player piano. David Tallis also states the following about the pianola: "Soon after the advent of the paper roll for the mechanical reproduction of music came the invention of the player piano. In 1897, American Mr. E.S. Votey, constructed a contrivance that could be pushed up to the keyboard of an ordinary piano. Felt-covered fingers projected from the front and these played the keys of the piano when activated by a perforated paper roll. This push-up device was improved so that its mechanism became built into the piano to make the piano as we know it today.. . . The best reproducing pianos were made by Welte-Mignon, Amico, Duo-Art, and Steck."
The Racca Piano
The racca piano is a rare music collectible and not easy to find. It plays from "book music". Created in 1886 by Giovanni Racca, the racca piano looks like a minature grand piano and had an arrangement as wide as the keyboard so the book music can go through the machine with a controlled memory. This piano had quite a romantic sound.
For the music box and antique collector, there are other interesting mechanical music collectibles that can be sought. While inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, ballerina music boxes, antique cars, antique jewelry, and other types of collectibles are valuable, discovering some of the other types of mechanical collectibles can be just as fun and rewarding.
Copyright 2006 Monique Hawkins
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