Ray, The Wurlitzer automatic roll changer really does work, as I am
sure many respondents to your question will say here. It is not just
a storage device, but really does automatically change and play five
rolls in succession.
As Q. David Bowers reports in his "Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical
Instruments" (on p. 661), the 5-roll automatic changer was available on
all of Wurlitzer's 65-note Automatic Player Pianos for an extra cost
of $100 to $200. Elsewhere Bowers says that the Wurlitzer changer,
on which Wurlitzer claimed several patents, was made under license from
Verstraelen & Alter, New York City.
There were several different designs of automatic roll changers or
"revolver" systems developed for use in European orchestrions.
Philipps made one capable of holding 12 rolls at once. I am sure
that the Wurlitzer design used some of the basic principles that were
first developed in Europe. Terry Hathaway can probably confirm that
there was a close relationship between the changer Wurlitzer used in
its Pian-Orchestra and the Philipps design. (But here "I'm telling
you more than I know," as Tim Trager likes to say.)
The next issue of the Musical Box Society International's publication
will carry a feature article by Siegfried Wendel about the man who
perfected the Philipps revolver mechanism, Leopold King.