Sometimes I hate this hobby....
The one topic that never ceases to get my blood boiling is the topic of
price. Kim Bunker's posting had nothing to do with value. It had
everything do to with PRICE.
Mr. Bunker is mistaken when he says that you don't have to be rich to
be a mechanical music collector. Compare the costs of collecting Pez
dispensers (the birthplace of eBay) with collecting mechanical musical
instruments or automobiles. In an era where homes are being financed
with interest-only mortgages, I'd argue that collecting MMIs is even
more expensive than collecting cars. Consider that the square footage
involved is comparable, but musical instruments require careful climate
control. Keeping a Steinway in a garage is a sure way to ruin it.
Then consider the fact that an instrument can only be operated in the
place it is stored. To properly appreciate a Seeburg L, you'll need a
fairly large room or you'll get your eardrums busted. But you can pack
a large number of cars in a garage and pull one out when you feel like
showing it off.
Finally, capable automobile mechanics abound. The number of piano
tuners, much less MMI restorers, continues to decline. I'd argue MMIs
are more expensive and difficult to maintain properly.
It's no surprise that MMI prices continue to decline. If I had to
guess, the prices of orchestrions and nickelodeons are more heavily
affected, because pianos are still considered desirable as furniture and
will fit into a middle-class home.
I'm encouraged to think that we may be on the verge of a big buyer's
market, not because I want to invest or speculate in instruments, but
because I truly love them and value them. It means I might be able to
afford the privilege of being caretaker to a rare, valuable instrument
and share the joy it brings with the next generation.
No, the value has not dropped, just the price.