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MMD > Archives > October 1997 > 1997.10.02 > 04Prev  Next


Demand and the "Rich Man's Hobby"
By Beatrice Robertson

I would like to respond to John Winston Miller's comment in yesterday's
Digest:

> I guess I'm a little curious as to why one feels the need to increase
> demand, hence increase the value -- It seems to me there is awful great
> value (cost) in mechanical musical instruments.  I, for one, could never
> even dream of buying anything other than a low-end player in need of
> rebuilding.  It seems to me that it is already a "rich persons hobby".

There are certainly many items in mechanical music that qualify it as a
"rich man's hobby!"  And there will always be some buyers that will pay
ANY price to get a desired item (yesterdays Sotheby's sale was a prime
example)!  However, there are many, many mechanical music collectibles
that are inexpensive, interesting, and entertaining.

I have a pretty diverse collection, primarily music boxes of many types.
And yes, I have some fairly expensive pieces in my collection.  But I
have more fun gathering up the "Odd and Unusual" musical objects.  Some
of this stuff is the "dancing ballerina" type that most people associate
with "music boxes", but the ones I buy always have some sort of twist.

For instance, why on earth would anyone put a musical movement playing
the hymn, "Abide with Me" in a cigarette case?  And my collection of
musical toys has some great pieces, from a Schuco "Radio" car that has
the switch for its music box on a button where the dash radio would be,
a super little tin xylophone player called a "Zilotone" that plays metal
discs, lots of unusual plastic toys, 2 musical kaleidoscopes, and many
more.  And the cigarette related things that have music run the gamut
from fairly sensible (advertising cigarette lighters) to downright
ridiculous (the dog that hands the cigarette to you.)

I find these neat pieces at flea markets, antique malls, yard sales,
people even bring them to me.  I ask every antique store I go into if
they have "anything musical, not ceramic!"  Lady's compacts, cigarette
lighters, powder boxes, toys, musical photo albums, and once in a while,
even a high quality musical box is found with this question.

The point is, you don't have to have lots of money to enjoy a mechanical
music collection.  The publications of the MBSI have made a point to
include some of the great collections comprised of these types of items.
We have exhibits at our meetings to show that there are still many items
that can be purchased for $100's instead of $1,000's.

The problem seems to be that the definition of mechanical music in many
people's minds tends to be limited to the Reginas and Band Organs and
Steinway Duo-Arts, without thinking about the small cob and roller
organs, player pianos, and musical novelties.  And here we are again,
back at education!!

If anyone is interested, I'll send Jody a photograph of some of the stuff
I found this summer -- he can put it on the Web page.  There is truly a
broad range of mechanical music available if you are looking!

Beatrice Robertson


(Message sent Thu 2 Oct 1997, 11:59:31 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Demand, Hobby, Man's, Rich

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