Over the years I have owned and restored many different types and
kinds of mechanical musical instruments. Before joining the Music Box
Society International (MBSI) I had very limited resources in the study
In less than a year I had read every publication relating to mechanical
musical instruments in the St. Louis, Mo. Public Library, some 15
books. Among these treasures were works authored by Q. David Bowers,
Ord-Hume, Grahm Webb, Larry Givens, Art Reblitz and Harvey Roehl.
Reading them, I was able to build on the collective information offered
by these collectors, restorers, and historians. They enhanced the work
I was doing in my studio.
After Joining the MBSI and reading its Technical Bulletin, (now the
Journal "Mechanical Music") I was introduced to a new larger batch of
authors, authors with a more diverse way of looking at the subjects
relating to these wonderful machines. In order to fill the need of
make these writings more usable, I worked in 1984 to produce the first
Index of the MBSI Journals since the limited 1965 edition.
This project allowed these important writings to be at the fingertips
of more members of the MBSI. In the past four years this indexing work
has continued, and the new index (now in the production state) will
include installments from 1954 through 1997. Hopefully, in the near
future, this index will be installed as part of the MBSI's home-page
for everyone to use, member or not.
One of the things I have come to realize, in 20 years of dealing with
mechanical music, is that although there are many authorities in the
field, we are all collectively much more intelligent about mechanical
music than we are individually.
To this end, I started to ask, what if this collective knowledge of
the MBSI was added to other collective works? What if there was an
INDEX that included the writings of the MBSI, (Music Box Society Int.),
AMICA, (Automatic Musical Inst. Collectors), the R.O.S. (Reed Organ
Society)? Let's take the idea a few steps further forward. I may be
from the United States but, I am not so pompous as to think the U.S. of
A is the only place where people know about, think about, or care for
mechanical music machines.
This may seem a bit overwhelming to many but last year, through the
help of the MMD, I was able to locate a complete set of journals from
the Music Box Society of Great Britain. I hunted these treasured
publications with an idea of merging the index information found in the
MBSGB journals with that of the MBSI in my personal computer.
In order to take this several steps further, how could I find out how
to locate a complete set of journals such as "Het Pierement" from the
Netherlands, or "Die Drehorgel" from Germany? Does anyone know how
many issues of journals we would be talking about? I also wonder how
many other organizations are currently active in other countries that
publish information on mechanical music?
Though many countries may consider mechanical music machines national
treasures, I don't think anyone can consider the sharing of information
about them as against national defense or something. You may call me a
dreamer, but isn't the sharing of information the intended use for the
Does any one else have any thoughts along these lines ?
Gary G. Stevenson
St. Louis Mo. USA