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MMD > Archives > November 2004 > 2004.11.23 > 10Prev  Next

Play-Rite Music Rolls Business For Sale
By Douglas Henderson

Hello MMDigest readers,  Last night I received a telephone call from
Rubenia Malone and this morning I downloaded an e-mail from her.  She
apparently has had a settlement with John Malone, after years of
litigation, and the result is the possibility of selling off their
music roll business.

I believe I'm the "last" customer ordering rolls on a steady basis
for decades in the 88-Note and 'reproducing' rolls formats (Ampico and
Duo-Art, primarily).  Since the Play-Rite factory fire in early 1997,
Play-Rite has become a custom duplicating enterprise, focusing on
orchestrion rolls, and no longer producing/marketing their own
releases, since the master rolls were lost in the blaze (but not the
perforators, fortunately!).

Gone, also, is the ability to make and imprint word roll stencils.
I have the stencils for my sundry Artcraft 88-Note arrangements here,
but no way to use them, which is forcing me to convert these selections
in my catalogue over to instrumental editions.

Several titles have already made the switch, such as the "Ellington
Medley" in 88-note, which had the lyrics for "Mood Indigo", and a
running commentary on interpretation for the pianolist plus a history
of Ellington rolls and audio during the performance of "Sophisticated

In my case, song sheets will be issued with these rolls, featuring cue
stamps for the lyrics, dialogue sections and the rest; these will be on
the Internet also, with the special URLs stamped on the rolls, so that
a customer can download extra copies for printing if they wish, along
with the general public.

We survived the 4-year hiatus of "no new rolls" following the 1997
factory fire since at the time I was running on an inventory of an
estimated three years.  (Only a couple of Duo-Art releases ran out,
during that dry period, luckily!)

Once Jeanne Malone (Mrs. Malone, Jon's mother) began perforating for
us again, completing the rebuilding of our warehouse stock over a
period of 7 months ending in mid-2001, we had increased our subsequent
purchases to an estimated 10-year inventory in order to have a buffer
against future disruptions.

Below is the letter I received from Rubenia Malone, and my reply to
her.  MMDigest readers might be interested in the exchange.  A carbon
copy of this posting is being sent to Rubenia Malone, at the same time.

It is my hope that the quality perforating, which for Artcraft Rolls
goes down to a 128th of a note, in graduated staccato, will continue
for the future owners, if some should materialize.  I lose only one
single perforation (about a 32nd note) in 3 or 4 feet of paper when
editing the copies against the masters by production run on our
motorized table in the Maine studio.  This level of detail in arranging
and duplicating is what gives our music rolls that effervescent sound
which, at times, can approach the performance sparkle of a skilled
pianist at the keyboard.

Douglas Henderson - Artcraft Music Rolls
Wiscasset, Maine 04578 USA

PS: In case you wondered, the ear does not hear the 'missing' single
perforation, described above.  Melville Clark and other roll enterprises
got by with their rolls by 'off' in rhythm, somehwere between a 16th
and a 32nd note, measure after measure.  I know, having remastered some
of these mathematical arrangements, such as our "New 'Castle House'
Medley", which had a correction with every measure as the paper
advanced through the Leabarjan #8-B perforator, shown here: (scroll down)

(Message sent Tue 23 Nov 2004, 13:23:19 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Business, Music, Play-Rite, Rolls, Sale

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