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MMD > Archives > November 1995 > 1995.11.15 > 03Prev  Next

Music Box Info
By Beatrice Robertson

To Bill Murphy -

I'm sure you'll also get a very helpful response from Larry Smith, since your inquiry was the second this week by horologists wanting information about restoring music boxes. I am going to duplicate some of Larry's comments.
Please don't jump in without adequate research. There is an unfortunate tendency by horologists to see the similarities between clocks and music boxes, and to ignore the differences. However, these differences are major, and are the heart of the music - the comb, dampers, cylinder and pins. If you are interested in music box restoration, by all means, take Nancy Fratti's school. The first week you learn what you don't know, and if you take it again and again, as I have, you fill in a few blanks each time. And this is with working on music boxes at least 50% of the time in between (when I'm not involved in MBSI stuff). The box you have is a fairly late (guessing 1885) box with a zither (the assembly across the comb). The songs are common on music boxes of the period. You don't say if the broken teeth are in a group or here and there. That makes some difference, but you can figure on about $75.00 a tooth to replace them correctly. And the corrosion on the cylinder has probably damaged those pins beyond repair - besides that though, if there are that many teeth broken, chances are the box had a run, and there are many more damaged and missing pins on the cylinder. Cylinder repinning costs about $40.00 per cylinder inch. In most cases, the entire cylinder must be repinned - since the pins are removed with acid, partial repinning is not an option (again in most cases). Larry mentioned Nancy Fratti for repinning. Her cylinders go to Jim Weir in Scotland, and he does and excellent job.
David & Carol Beck also do cylinder repinning:
D& B Restorations, 75 Waters Edge Lane, Newnan, GA 30263 (770) 304-9066. Fax: (770) 253-9218. If you would like to call, I'll be glad to talk to you about the box. (941) 675-5828.

This string is particularly interesting, because I am writing an article for the New England Journal of Antiques, at their request, on collecting music boxes, aimed at the beginning buyer. One of my points throughout the article is Do Your Homework!! Then ask someone knowledgeable to inspect the box if possible. Know what you are looking at, and learn what to look for!

Bill, your description shows a methodical approach to things. Talk to your customer to see what she wants to do with her box. If she wants it repaired, let us find a music box restorer in your area to help you. Musical Box Society members are always willing to help, if you want it. Good luck.

EMail Beatrice Robertson

(Message sent Wed 15 Nov 1995, 18:53:56 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Box, Info, Music

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