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How Did the End Come for the Cylinder Disc Driven Music Box?
The music box has a long and interesting history. Long before collectors sought the dresser top music jewelry boxes, inlaid music boxes, and pop up ballerina music boxes that are the popular today, the cylinder or disc driven music box was the entertainment in many homes in the 1800?s. These vintage music boxes, ranging in size, style, and value are still sought today by many collectors of automatic musical instruments.
David Le Coultre first created the cylinder music box in Switzerland. around 1870, while Mermod Fre'res was the largest manufacturer of the cylinder musical instruments in St Crox. Years later the highly collectible disc driven music boxes were also made in France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other countries.
While there were numerous companies making music boxes, Mermod Fre'res, active during the 1800's was one of the few who manufactured both a cylinder music box and a disc driven automatic musical instrument. Two of the most popular ones by the company were the "Stella" and "Mira", made during the late 1890's, were made of oak in furniture styles popular in the states during that time.
What makes the cylinder music box, inlaid music boxes , and musical snuffboxes, and other types unique is that music results when the teeth of a tuned, steel comb vibrate when plucked by tiny pins protruding from the cylinder. Many collectors today highly value these music boxes and love to add then to their collections. Favorites include those manufactured during the 18th century by Lecoultre, Nicole Fre'res, and Ducommon- Girod.
Making cylinder music boxes was quite the art until 1875. Many craftsmen worked in their homes assembling various parts and then took them to factories to complete.
Up until the Civil War, cylinder music boxes were rather plain. Then, manufacturers began making more elaborate cases with brass, wood inlays, tortoise shell, and mother of pearl.
The years 1890-1914 marked the end of time for large cylinder automatic musical instruments. In his "Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments", Q. David Bowers states, "The disc-type box, as made by Polyphon, Symphonion, Regina, and others, drove cylinder instruments from the marketplace. Mermod Freres made fine, large cylinder instruments in the 1890's, but by 1900, World War I ended what was left of the cylinder music box industry.
So ended the age of the cylinder, disc driven music box. However, with careful research and searches, collectors of cylinder music boxes can still possibly find these beautiful music boxes through organizations such MBSI at http://www.mbsi.org and AMICA at http://www.amica.org.
Copyright 2005 Monique Hawkins
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