[ Matthew Caulfield answers email requests for information for
[ Musical Box Society Int'l (MBSI). He replied to this request
[ for me. -- Robbie
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> From: email@example.com (Laura)
> Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 21:19:45 EST
> Subject: Music box
> I got a few music boxes made in 1984. They look kind of valuable with
> the gold around the rim and all. They are a part of the "Worlds Most
> Romantic Love Songs Music Box Collection", copyrighted by Franklin
> Porcelain & Mint Company. I was wondering if maybe you knew something
> about them and their rarity or amount they may be worth today. Thanks!
Dear Laura, Music boxes can be very valuable and extremely collectible,
but here we are talking about the mechanically and musically elaborate
mechanisms once made by now-extinct Swiss companies in the late 1800's
and the early 1900s.
The combs of those boxes could have 100 or 200 teeth, which when
plucked by the pins on cylinders that might run to a foot or more in
length, were capable of exquisite musicality. Naturally the wooden
cases in which such musical marvels were housed were suitably elegant
pieces of furniture.
Today you can buy from the Japanese firm of Sankyo a little 18-note
musical movement for under $5. It is this kind of novelty movement
that is usually found installed in collectibles aimed at the popular
market. As such, the interest and the value is in the object housing
the musical movement, not in the musical movement itself.
Don't be misled by gold leaf. Pure gold is fantastically ductile, which
means that it can be beaten into extremely thin sheets of gold leaf.
This site explains the process: http://www.pamp.ch/Gold/gg/goleaf.html
Gold leaf is so thin (3 millionths of an inch thick) that it can be
used on cake decorations and be eaten as part of the frosting without
ill effects. An ounce of pure gold can be stretched into a wire 60
miles long and can be beaten by a goldbeater, who makes gold leaf, into
a sheet of 300 square feet!
So the gold leafing on your music boxes adds an insignificant amount
of 24-karat gold to them. Gold leaf is used in the lettering of fine
book binding, and nobody thinks a second about the value of the gold.
To determine the value of the objects you own you would have to consult
a collectibles price guide (such as "Collectibles Price Guide" published
by Collectors' Information Bureau, http://www.collectorsinfo.com/),
which tracks the rise and fall in value of items produced by companies
such as the Franklin Mint purely to satisfy the public's collecting
You may also get an idea of the current market value by searching at
eBay auction (http://pages.ebay.com/). For example, there is currently
a collection of 12 Franklin Mint porcelain music boxes in the "Songs
of Love" series being bid at $62 for the set, but the seller's reserve
has not yet been met. [eBay item 737758161]
for the editors of the Mechanical Music Digest