On the subject of donations of mechanical music instruments and machines
to colleges and universities, my advice, born of experience, is DON'T!
Schools may talk a good game in seeming gratitude for your generosity,
but what they are really thinking is "How much money can we convert
this old junk into, so we can buy things we want, like computers and
Sadly, they fail to realize that computers, at best, will be obsolete
within just a few years, and footballs and uniforms and so forth
likewise have a limited life-span. The music boxes and organs and
wonderful instruments, with care and minimal maintenance will live on
and on and on, well into the next century, and when properly displayed
and _played_ they will delight thousands of people.
I have observed three large and significant collections which were
donated to schools. In each case, the donor had scarcely been in his
grave a few years (or months) when the schools decided to sell off most
or all of the items.
Here's the truth: if _you_ love and cherish your mechanical music
instrument collection, it would be a terrible folly to give it to a
school. Instead, find another collector or would-be collector who
truly shares your love for and is passionate about the items in your
collection, and give them to her or him, and in this way, you may
take comfort in knowing your items will be played and enjoyed and
appreciated, none of which are at all likely in any school's holdings.
At best, they might place a few smaller (easy to move around) items
on limited display, typically behind glass and usually not possible to
play. Most will invariably be put into storage, often a non-climate
controlled, overcrowded closet or back rooms (even janitors' closets!)
which must also house all manner of other "stuff" and which, when some
of those other items -- like desks, chairs and tables -- need to be
accessed, your treasured instruments will very likely be shoved and
knocked about with no care or concern whatever for their damage.
Schools simply do not have resources to act as active museums.
Most of us have invested significant money or personal time and labor
into bringing our treasured items back to life so that not only we but
our families and friends can enjoy them, and with the hope that they
may be able to survive after we ourselves are gone. If your family has
nobody who shares your love for your collection, try to find someone
who does. Schools do not, will not, can not.
My 2-cents' worth for the day!
Reg Smith - Antique Music Box Restorations
Dahlonega, Georgia, USA
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