First let me recommend to Brenda, who is trying to identify her
unknown musical Christmas tree stand, a couple of good information
sources for questions like that. One is the Mechanical Music Digest
Archives, which is available to anyone with an Internet connection at
http://mmd.foxtail.com/archives.html/ If Brenda goes to the subject
index and calls up the articles under "tree", she will find several
articles about musical Christmas tree stands, including this one posted
by Beatrice Robertson on November 16, 2001, which mentions the Father
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Christmas Tree Stands, by Beatrice Robertson
The most commonly found Christmas Tree Stands were made in Germany by
Eckardt, who received his first patent in 1884 (1886 in the US.) The
early ones were round, with a domed lid and a cast iron tree cup. The
mechanism played at least two tunes, with many playing four tunes and
even up to eight tunes.
There is a very complete article by Joseph Roesch in the MBSI Silver
Anniversary Collection book, which like most of the mechanical music
books, is now out of print. I just completed a brief addendum to the
article which will appear in the next MBSI Journal.
These stands were high quality and very durable, many having survived
use over 100 years, and not just to be played at Christmas. The latest
addition to my collection plays two Christmas songs, but with a turn of
the selector, also plays "Last Rose of Summer" (the most often pinned
song on music boxes) and "Home, Sweet Home." In addition, there is a
top on the tree cup which could hold a vase or dish (or gold fish
Eckardt also made disc playing tree stands, usually rectangular in
shape and made of wood. In this endeavor, he formed a connection with
Symphonion, and the later trademarks show his "Father Christmas" symbol
along with the Symphonion name.
This is another example of neat things that can be found that are not
particularly expensive and are great fun to collect. Just to again
emphasize that we don't need an unlimited budget to collect mechanical
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The second information source, though not so readily available,
is Q. David Bowers' "Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments"
(ISBN 0-911572-08-2; Library of Congress catalog no. 78-187497).
If Bowers is not in your local library, they can borrow it for you
on inter-library loan. Bowers illustrates several tree stands and
indicates that they were made in both disc and cylinder models,
incorporating movements by various disc and cylinder box manufacturers.
Brenda does not indicate whether hers is a disc or cylinder stand, but
since the general public is more familiar with cylinder movements and
would probably mention the fact if it were a disc-type machine -- and
also because of Beatrice Robertson's information just quoted -- I would
guess that Brenda's is a cylinder stand, although Bowers gives the
impression that the "Gloriosa" stand, containing a (usually) Kalliope
disc movement, is the most common one.
Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, N.Y)