<email@example.com> wrote to me about the MBSI web page:
> You do not show any reference to toys and it would not do your page
> justice. I collect Jack in the Music Boxes that have the hand crank
> mechanism that makes it play music. I am also interested in hand
> crank musical that are still made today. I can not find any
> information on this type and musical. "Hurdy Gurdy" in the 1950's
> made a hand crank musical part that sounded like a music box. Any
> information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.
Hi there, I have taken the liberty of copying your letter to the
Mechanical Music Digest in the hopes that you will get additional
I have a very large collection of musical toys, and in fact have done
workshops at our national convention on "Musical Gadgets and Gismos"
which includes some of the incredibly novel toys.
The Jack in the Box, as well as many, many other musical toys, uses
a mechanism we all call a rubber band music box. It is basically
a wide rubber band with large bumps molded onto it, and as it is
cranked (hopefully) it raises long, sort of tuned wires and plays
a recognizable tune.
I say that entire description with tongue in cheek, since if you have
several, you no doubt have some that no longer play because the rubber
has either stretched or taken a set in one position, and also, you may
have heard some that were so out of tune that the song is completely
The biggest problem with these marvelous toys is that they are unrepair-
able, in almost all cases. Even if you can get to the mechanism, there
is no adjustment to solve the problem of age changing the size and
shape of the rubber band.
They came in pressed metal Easter eggs, and baskets, animal shapes,
books, even a personalized deck of cards. Probably one of the more
innovative ones is the "Farmer in the Dell" that moves the entire
procession of farmer, wife, child, etc., out of the barn one at a time,
until the "Cheese Stands Alone." This is a rather large toy, and a
surprising number can be found. However, most are not working and are
missing some characters.
Besides the "Rubber Band" toys, there are disc playing toys, plastic
strip playing toys, ratchet operated toys, and on and on. Maybe I
should add a "Gadget and Gismos" page to the MBSI Web site? Or maybe
the Mechanical Music Digest Pictures site would enjoy a section on
odd musical items?
It would be fun to hear from some of the other members of the Digest on
their oddities that play music. This is a topic that nearly everyone
can participate in.
[ I'll be happy to place a special page at the MMD web site, Beatrice,
[ and I hope you will design it, too. You have much better ideas than
[ I do! Visit the MBSI web site, http://www.mbsi.org/ -- Robbie