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MMD > Archives > February 2000 > 2000.02.11 > 07Prev  Next

Identifying Music Rolls
By Matthew Caulfield

Jacques Thijs wrote in 000210 MMD, "I thought orchestrions always used
cardboard books.  Since I want to sell these rolls it is important to
know for which instrument they are intended.  How can I see if they are
for a pianola or for an orchestrion?"

Cardboard books are a European preference, and then principally for
instruments used outdoors.  American mechanical music manufacturers
went to paper rolls after abandoning pinned cylinders, for both indoor
and outdoor machines.

It should be fairly easy to see from the control and percussion
perforations whether your rolls are piano rolls, coin piano rolls,
or orchestrion rolls.  But you should try to identify the particular
machine they are meant for, to maximize both your profit and the rolls'
usefulness.  It's a shame to waste old rolls.

Art Reblitz's "Treasures of Mechanical Music" lists specifications for
hundreds of different rolls of the major American and European
manufacturers.  That would be the first place I'd look in trying to
identify a mystery roll.  Note such things as the width of the roll,
the number of holes across the roll from hole 1 to the last, and the
hole spacing.  Then dig into Reblitz's appropriately-named "Treasury."

If that doesn't narrow down the field enough, try to figure out what
some of the holes control, such holes as the rewind hole, register
controls, bass drum, coin trip between selections (assuming the rolls
have multiple selections).

If you don't have access to the Reblitz book, posting your findings
here may result in someone being able to do the research for you.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Fri 11 Feb 2000, 19:13:59 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Identifying, Music, Rolls

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