Luke Myers is not quite correct in his assessment of the QRS music
roll factory today. It is still a viable enterprise, albeit greatly
diminished from the roaring '20s and limited rebirth in the 1970s.
The current owner is happy to recut whatever sells the most and not
inventive enough to have new titles introduced, except for the annual
Christmas roll which does have an extremely high premium (although
the cost of the decorative paper does eat into the profit margin).
If more rolls were ordered by the general public, then there would
be more rolls made. It's somewhat of a vicious cycle: No new rolls,
fewer orders. Fewer orders, fewer new titles and a higher cost to
pay for a smaller output.
Luke's comments about "when you add tremendous inflation and
government spending to the equation" are not any part of the QRS saga
today. During the "Great Depression" a loaf of bread cost 5 to 10
cents. A QRS piano roll in 1932 cost 75 cents.
Today, 84 years later, a loaf of bread costs at least $2.00 (up to
maybe $4.00). A QRS roll is comparably priced. Richard Groman's
Ampico rolls are even a greater bargain. In 1932 an Ampico roll
would sell between $1.25 and $2.00. Today, Ampico rolls are selling
between $13.00 and $17.00 for a fresh new copy.
By the way, to the best of my knowledge, no state or federal agency
is an owner of any piano roll company and those agency's budgets have
nothing to do with the production of piano rolls.
Mike Walter - Former Production Mgr., QRS Music Rolls