Antique music boxes
Music boxes appeared in the second half of the XVIII century. in the Swiss canton of Jura, where they were made by watchmakers. The first mechanisms, in which the cams mounted on a rotating cylinder touched the teeth of a tempered steel comb, emitting sounds of the desired height, were part of a fighting clock or a jukebox. But by the beginning of the XIX century. they became independent tools that were placed in a wooden box and launched by lifting the lid. Externally, the box could not be decorated in any way (and the first samples were just such), or it was a masterpiece of inlay or enamel. The inner surface of the cover, which is raised in the working position, was also decorated.
Switzerland continued to be the main producer of music boxes, although craftsmen from other countries, in particular the Czech company Rezebichek, also gained a good reputation. In the XIX century. mechanisms of music boxes became more complex and allowed playing more than one melody, but they became more expensive because they required more work.
In the 1880s Paul Lohmann from Leipzig invented removable metal discs, which served as cylinders with cams. This made it possible to organize the mass production of music boxes with a large repertoire of performed works. Germany became the center for the production of new music boxes. The Germans also founded Regina Company in New Jersey, which has become the main producer of caskets in the United States. Music boxes with discs were larger in size than cylinders; some even began to play the role of furniture in the living rooms. The boxes with the cylinders continued to be produced, but the quality of the mechanisms and the design of the boxes decreased, and the music boxes turned from family entertainment into a children’s toy or a beautiful knickknack. The appearance of the phonograph, and then the gramophone, put an end to this type of business.
Here is a set of music boxes of the late XIX and early XX century. In the center there is a box with a cam cylinder, dated approximately 1870. A list of executable melodies is placed on the bottom side of the lid. Clockwise from above left: Swiss music box of the late XIX century. with a perforated disc capable of playing six tunes; a miniature casket with a cam cylinder from about the same period; children’s music box with a box for additional disks made in Leipzig in 1905; Swiss music box mid XIX century. with cylinder; music box of the same period, made by Frere, with a well-preserved mosaic on the top side of the lid; a small box of mahogany, made around 1875