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MMD > Archives > November 2002 > 2002.11.22 > 05Prev  Next

Music Boxes By Thomas Edison
By Matthew Caulfield

After two replies to today's MMD claiming no knowledge of Thomas A.
Edison's having made music boxes, I looked in Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume's
"The Musical Box: A Guide For Collectors" to see what Sir Arthur had
to say.  Nothing.

Q. David Bowers in his "Encyclopedia Of Automatic Musical Instruments"
mentions Edison's Menlo Park, N.J., workshop being only five miles from
Regina's Rahway, N.J., factory but make no connection between Edison
and either disc or cylinder music box manufacture.

So I sent an email to MBSI's Ralph Heintz, who knows a thousand times
more than I do about the subject.  He replied in part:

"I have never heard of an Edison box, but that doesn't mean that they
don't exist. ... Edison was a sneaky old devil, so he may well have
done it on the sly.  We used to have the largest collection of Edison
artifacts outside of New Jersey -- in Menlo Park, California -- owned
by a former Edison technician, but on his death, I believe the collection
went to N.J.  I visited the site several times, but never saw anything
resembling a music box. Have also visited Edison's laboratory in
Florida with the same results.  Interesting question to put to the
[MBSI] membership, but we ought to learn more first."

Of course, the phonograph _is_ a kind of "music box," but I am sure
that what Ms. Richardson is talking about is a cylinder (or disc?)
music box.  If she could give us a closer description of the box
(appearance, dimensions, number of teeth in the comb, any words or
emblems on the instrument, tune card) it would be both helpful and
interesting.  A photograph, of course, would be wonderful.

Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, N.Y.)

 [ Matthew later found the phrase "Edison cylinder music box"
 [ mentioned in a description at this Internet site:
 [ :
 [  "Antique Edison cylinder music box Victorian walnut cabinet
 [   with pull out slide.  This music cabinet is made from walnut
 [   and dates from the late 19th century."
 [ The photo shows a familiar cabinet which stores Edison cylinders
 [ (or discs) and the top surface is suitable for the phonograph.
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Fri 22 Nov 2002, 23:06:59 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Boxes, Edison, Music, Thomas

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