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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.21 > 06Prev  Next

History of Regina Music Boxes
By Bill Wineburgh

Matthew:  Regina's history has been documented quite well in various
books about musical boxes.  Bowers' Encyclopedia has a good deal of
information as does several of Ord-Hume's books.

In 1989 The MBSI re-printed an article by Mary Kosiarski entitled "The
Regina Musical Box" that had originally been published as a two-part
article in "The Music Box",  the journal of the Musical Box Society of
Great Britain, in the Spring and Summer issues in 1975 (Vol. 7, Nos. 1
and 2).

It may be best to borrow or acquire one of these books to get the real
deal about Regina.

However, very briefly, here is a synopsis:

A Mr. Gustave Adolf Brachhausen, from Saxony, Germany, manufactured
Symphonion musical boxes in Gohlis, a suburb of Leipzig, Germany in the
early 1880's, for Paul Lochmann's company, Lochmannscher Musikwerke.

In 1889, Brachhausen along with engineer Paul Riessner left Lochmann
and started the Polyphon Musikwerke in Leipzig.  Soon thereafter
Brachhausen left Reissner to mind the German factory and, along with
three machinists and two cabinet makers, came to America.  He started a
factory in Jersey City manufacturing Regina Music Boxes.  The Regina
Music Box Company was incorporated in 1894.

The company purchased property in Rahway in 1896 and became known in
1902 as the Regina Company.  After 1902 while the musical box sales
took a plunge, they diversified into home appliances, the first being
a hand-pumped vacuum cleaner appropriately called the 'Model A'.  They
continued to sell musical boxes from stock until about 1921.

Between 1892 and 1921, Regina shipped over 100,000 musical boxes!  They
made quite a range of sizes of disc boxes, including 8-1/2", 11",
12-1/4", 15-1/2", 20-3/4", 27" and 32" (actually a piano with bells, 2
drums and cymbals).  The boxes were made in many styles, including
manivelles (hand powered) and spring-driven, table-tops, uprights, and
disc changers (in 15-1/2", 20-3/4" and 27" sizes).  Some were made with
bells accompanying the musical combs, some had a single comb while
others had double combs.  On double-comb Reginas, the two combs play
the same notes at the same time, one on each comb from the same
starwheel, but they are tuned just slightly differently resulting in a
beautifully harmonic sound.

Later models had a unique 'short' bedplate, that was about half the
width of the case itself and left a space below on the left side with a
lower sound board.  This proved to be a great improvement in the sound.
Dwight Porter uses this design in the fine quality disc musical boxes
he manufactures today.

Also, later boxes included a phonograph built into the case and
mechanism.  These were called Reginaphones.  But there is so much

Musically yours,

Bill Wineburgh

(Message sent Fri 22 May 1998, 00:13:09 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Boxes, History, Music, Regina

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