The following list primarily includes the names of companies, products, and distributors that are published in the book The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments by MBSI member Arthur A. Reblitz, published by the Mechanical Music Press, Woodsville, New Hampshire; copyright 2001, ISBN: 0970595107. They are used here with permission of the author and publisher. Permission is granted for writers to use a limited number of brief excerpts provided credit is given to the MBSI web site, the title of the original work and the author. Written permission is required for all other uses. For a comprehensive list with many more music box brand names and makers, see Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume’s The Musical Box. For all types of automatic instruments, refer to Q. David Bowers’ The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments. Both references are listed in the MBSI Reading List.

Aeolian American Corporation

East Rochester, NY. Formed by the merger of the Aeolian Co. and the American Piano Co. in August 1932. Continued to make Chickering & Sons, J. & C. Fischer, Wm. Knabe & Co., Mason & Hamlin, George Steck, Weber, and other piano brands. The company installed Ampico and Duo-Art reproducing mechanisms in these pianos on a very limited basis until the late 1930s. The last Ampico mechanisms were installed in spinet pianos known as “Baby Ampicos,” introduced in 1938. The last Ampico rolls were made at the factory in 1941. Several other firms have made recut and new Ampico rolls since then. Aeolian-American was acquired in 1959 by Winter & Co., owner of many other old piano brand names, which had resumed production of spinet player pianos in 1957. Renamed the Aeolian Corporation, and then Aeolian Pianos, Inc. in 1980, it continued to make pianos and spinet player pianos under a variety of brand names until its bankruptcy in 1985. The Chickering brand name was then acquired by the Wurlitzer Co.

Aeolian Company

New York City, 1878-1932. Branches in London and many other cities. One of America’s largest piano and organ manufacturers. Founded in 1878 as the Mechanical Orguinette Co., sold small tabletop organettes (1878-c. 1910), player reed organs (1883-early 1910s), and Pianola push-up piano players (1899-c. 1905). Organized as the Aeolian Organ & Music Co., in 1887. Reorganized as the Aeolian Co. under the parent entity Aeolian Weber Piano and Pianola Co., 1908. Sold Pianola player pianos and Duo-Art reproducing pianos in its piano brands and Steinway pianos (Pianola circa 1905-early 1930s; Duo-Art 1914-1932), pipe organs (1894-1932), player pipe organs (1895-1932) and Duo-Art reproducing pipe organs (1915-1932). Player and reproducing piano sales were very limited after 1929. Owned the Weber Piano Co.; Geo. Steck & Co.; Wheelock Piano Co.; Stuyvesant Piano Co.; Chilton Piano Co.; Technola Piano Co.; Vocalion Organ Co.; Votey Organ Co.; Aeolian Co., Ltd., of Great Britain; and Aeolian Co., Ltd., of Australia. Also owned Melodee Music Co. and Universal Music Co. (music rolls). Merged with the American Piano Co. in 1932 to form the Aeolian American Corporation.

American Automatic Banjo Company of New Jersey

New York City. One of two makers of the Encore Automatic Banjo, incorporated in 1896. In 1899, reorganized as the American Automusic Co. Continued in business into the early 1900s. Owned territorial rights to New York, and the rest of the United States not covered by the New England Automatic Banjo Co., also listed in this Appendix.

American Photo Player Company

Berkeley, CA. Made Fotoplayer brand theatre photoplayers, circa 1912-1925. Became part of the Robert-Morton Company in 1917. In 1925, the name was changed to the Robert Morton Organ Company, and operations were consolidated in Van Nuys, CA. The firm became one of America’s largest makers of theatre pipe organs, second only to Wurlitzer.

American Piano Company

New York City, 1908-1932. Made pianos, player pianos, and reproducing pianos. Incorporated by G.C. Foster and W.B. Armstrong of the Foster-Armstrong Co. in 1908. Acquired Chickering & Sons ( Boston) and William Knabe & Co. (Baltimore) in 1908, J. & C. Fischer (New York City) in 1920, and the Mason & Hamlin Co. (Boston) in 1922. Foster-Armstrong also owned Haines Bros., Marshall & Wendell Piano Co., Franklin Piano Co., Foster & Co., Armstrong Piano Co., Brewster Piano Co., the Amphion Co. (maker of player mechanisms, established 1903, acquired by American Piano Co. circa early 1920s), the East Rochester Iron Works, and the Ampico Corp. Merged with the Aeolian Co. in 1932 to form the Aeolian American Corporation.

B.A.B. Organ Company

Brooklyn, NY. Founded by Evaristo Bona, Andrew Antoniazzi, and Dominick Brugnolotti, whose initials comprised the firm’s name. The firm serviced street pianos and fairground organs, circa 1912-1958. Converted many pinned cylinder organs to cardboard music or paper rolls; arranged and perforated both types of music. Took over the assets of G. Molinari & Sons in 1939.

Böcker, Ernst, Organ and Orchestrion Company

New York City. Imported Imhof & Mukle, Hupfeld, and Weber orchestrions, Gebr. Bruder and Ruth fairground organs, early 1900s-1914. Extant Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violinas that originally were used in the United States were imported by Böcker, so far as is known.

Bruder, Gebrüder (Bruder Brothers)

Waldkirch, Germany. Ignaz Bruder I, 1780-1845, manufactured flute clocks and barrel organs. Of his 15 children, five sons and their descendants continued to build portable and then larger fairground organs under several different company names, including Gebrüder Bruder, the largest of the firms (1860s-1937); Ignaz Bruder Söhne (1860s-1918), and Wilhelm Bruder Söhne (1860s-1939).

Clark Orchestra Roll Company

DeKalb, IL. Made coin piano, orchestrion, pipe organ, and mortuary organ rolls, 1920-1941. Owned and operated by Ernest G. Clark, who acquired the coin-operated roll division of QRS after that company was split from the Melville Clark Piano Co. Ernest retained the right to use QRS roll arrangements for his coin-operated rolls. In the last years of business, Clark’s best customers were amusement companies who owned air calliopes, and manufacturers of non-musical roll-operated horse race gambling machines such as Pace’s Races.

Clark, Melville, Piano Co.

DeKalb, IL. Made pianos, pushup piano players, player pianos, Art-Apollo and Solo Art-Apollo expression pianos, circa 1900-1919. Its founder, Melville Clark, was one of America’s leading pioneers in the player piano industry, and is credited with developing the first 88-note player grand piano in 1903. Shortly before Melville Clark died in November 1918, Tom Pletcher purchased controlling interest in the Melville Clark Piano Co., including the QRS music roll business. He sold the piano company to the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. in 1919, and moved the roll manufacturing business to Chicago. See also QRS Music Co.

Deagan, J.C., Inc.

Chicago, IL, 1898-1978. Made fine quality xylophones, orchestra bells, chimes, tower chimes, Una-Fon bells, and many other percussion instruments. Its xylophones were particularly popular among American coin piano and orchestrion builders. For a description of the Una-Fon, see the glossary.

Decap, Gebroeders (Decap Brothers)

Antwerp, Belgium. Company name originated by the four brothers Livien, Frans, Léon and Camille Decap, sons of Aloïs Decap who founded the firm in 1902. Maker of dance organ orchestrions (early years), piano orchestrions (limited production, early years), street and fairground organs (1920s-1930s), and a leading maker of dance organs (1930s-present). Beginning in the late 1950s, electronic components were used increasingly in place of pipes. In more recent years, traditional and electronic organs have been made. Today, Camille’s daughter Martha, her husband Louis Mostmans and son Roger continue operating the business under the name Decap Brothers of Antwerp.

deKleist Musical Instrument Manufacturing Company

North Tonawanda, NY, 1897-1909. New name in 1897 for the North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory, established by Eugene deKleist in 1893. The name was changed after deKleist agreed to sell its products exclusively to the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., including a new line of coin pianos in addition to its established line of band organs. Purchased by Wurlitzer in 1909, the deKleist factory became the nucleus of Wurlitzer’s automatic musical instrument division in North Tonawanda.


Paris, France. Made the Pianista, one of the first push-up piano players that worked on pneumatic principles, 1863-1870s. As large as an upright piano, the Pianista had fingers that played the keys of a piano. Music was programmed on a pinned cylinder, but the pins actuated small valves that controlled a pneumatic player action as in most roll-operated player pianos. The mechanism was powered by a hand crank. Also patented an early cardboard-operated key frame; Gavioli et Cie., (Paris) bought the patent and adapted its principles to the fairground organ.

Frei, Carl

Noted music arranger, pipe voicer, and street organ builder born in 1884. Served apprenticeship with the Wilhelm Bruder Company in Waldkirch; worked for Gavioli (Paris), Mortier (Antwerp); opened his own factory (Breda, Holland, 1921); returned to Waldkirch (1946) where he and his son continued in business. Carl Sr. died in 1967; his son, in 1997.

Grob, J.M., & Co.

Leipzig-Eutritzsch, Germany. Art shop which began selling automatic instruments in 1882 and manufacturing them in 1883. Developed an autoharp, the reiterating mandolin mechanism for street pianos, and self-playing mechanisms for pianos and organs. Sales agent for Ariston organettes. Taken over by Ludwig Hupfeld in 1892, to become the world’s largest manufacturer of automatic pianos and orchestrions.

Herschell-Spillman Company

North Tonawanda, NY. Made carousels and other amusement rides and equipment. Major seller of fairground organs, including Frati and other European brands before the early ‘teens, and then North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works and Wurlitzer. Also, Armitage-Herschell, Spillman Engineering, and the Allan Herschell Company.

Hooghuys, Louis

Grammont, Belgium. Beginning in 1880, made fairground organs, and later, dance organs. The factory closed in 1924 when Louis died, ending production of new organs. Louis had two sons, Edmond and Charles. Edmond restored and tuned organs until his death in 1963. Charles assembled and remodeled organs that had been left unfinished when Louis died, ending this work in the late 1930s. Charles’ son Romain restored organs and arranged music on a part-time basis until his death in 1985. Romain’s son Marc in Lissewege, Belgium, owns a Hooghuys organ, which he is restoring at the time this is being written.

Hupfeld, Ludwig, A.G.

Leipzig, Germany. The world’s largest manufacturer of automatic pianos and orchestrions, 1892-1930; made rolls for a few more years. Founded in 1892 when Ludwig Hupfeld took over J.M. Grob & Co. Eventually employed over 2,500 people in several factories, the largest including about one million square feet of floor space. Made Phonola push-up piano players and player pianos, Phonoliszt expression pianos, DEA and Triphonola reproducing pianos; Universal, Clavitist, Helios, Pan, Animatic, and Symphony Jazz orchestrions; Phonoliszt-Violina and Violina Orchestra violin players, among other instruments. Also made rolls for all of these instruments. Discontinued making automatic instruments circa 1930 and music rolls circa 1934. The company has continued to make hand-played pianos to the present.

Imhof & Mukle

Vöhrenbach, Germany; branch in London. Made barrel organs and orchestrions 1874-c.1930. Early organ-only instruments played from pinned cylinders. After 1900, instruments used a novel “music leaf” system, with a key frame reading holes punched in heavy manila rolls. A few later instruments played paper rolls on an ordinary tracker bar.

Jacot Music Box Co.

New York City. Imported, distributed, and repaired cylinder and disc music boxes, circa 1898-1911. U.S. distributor of Mermod, Stella, Mira, and other brands. C.H. Jacot invented the Jacot Safety Check, a mechanism that prevented cylinder and comb damage by stopping the cylinder if a stripped gear would otherwise allow it to spin suddenly. Jacot also patented a coin mechanism for cylinder music boxes.

Kimball, W.W.

Chicago, IL, 1854-1959; Jasper, IN, 1959-1996. One of America’s largest manufacturers of pianos, including player pianos during the golden age. A major manufacturer of theatre pipe organs. Acquired by the Jasper Corporation 1959, which also acquired the Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik in Vienna, Austria, in 1966. Kimball International discontinued making pianos in 1996 but remains in business building a wide variety of furniture and cabinets.

Kohler & Campbell

(Kohler Industries; Kohler & Campbell Industries) New York City, 1896-c. 1930. An industrial giant, which controlled Autopiano and other piano companies, the Auto Pneumatic Action Co. (founded circa 1900; incorporated 1909), the Standard Pneumatic Action Co. (c. 1910), and the Republic Player Roll Corporation and DeLuxe Reproducing Roll Corporation (1918). The Auto Pneumatic Action Co. supplied Ampico reproducing piano mechanisms to the American Piano Company, 1912-1917, and to M. Welte & Sons for “Red Welte” (12 7/8″ T-100) reproducing pianos made in the United States, circa 1910-1918. Auto Pneumatic also made mechanisms for the Auto Deluxe Welte-Mignon (using 11¼” 9 per inch rolls) sold in over 100 piano brands. In 1917 the Standard Pneumatic Action Co. employed 600 people and manufactured about 800 player actions per week. Production ceased about 1930. After World War II, Kohler Industries made hand-played pianos, eventually moving to Granite Falls, NC. Piano production ceased circa 1980s.

Langdorff, David

Geneva, Switzerland, 1804-1873. Musical box maker who began production in 1838, was a partner with Isaac-Henry Metert from 1844 to 1852, and after the partnership ended carried on the business until his death when his son took over under the name Langdorff et Cie. The firm was eventually consolidated with Rivenc and Billon in 1902. From 1840 to 1870 Langdorff boxes had the year of manufacture and gamme number scored on the bass cylinder cap.

Lyon & Healy

Chicago, IL, 1864-1980s. Music retailer which claimed to be the “World’s Largest Music House.” Sold Regina music boxes, Otto disc-operated Pianette mechanical pianos, Majestic 44-note coin pianos, all types of pianos, organs and other instruments, rolls, sheet music, and accessories. Its trade names included Empress, Washburn, and others.

Mangels Carousell Works, W.F.

Coney Island, NY. Founded 1886. Repaired and manufactured carousels and other amusement rides. Sold Frati, Bruder, and Wurlitzer (deKleist) band organs. William Mangels operated the American Museum of Public Recreation, 1927-1955, America’s oldest documented museum that included barrel pianos and organs, electric pianos, orchestrions, and band organs. Many of these instruments later went to Horn’s Cars of Yesterday, Sarasota, FL, and Lewis Graham, Scarsdale, NY.

Marquette Piano Company

Chicago, IL. Made Cremona coin pianos and orchestrions 1905-late ‘teens. The officers officially dissolved the company when they formed the Western Electric Piano Co. (as a secret subsidiary of the J.P. Seeburg Piano Co.) in 1924. However, it is doubtful if any Cremona pianos were actually manufactured after the late ‘teens.

Mason & Hamlin Co.

Boston, MA. Made one of America’s premium piano brands, established in 1854. Acquired by the American Piano Co. in 1922. The finest brand in which the Ampico reproducing mechanism was installed on a regular production basis. Its acquisition by the American Piano Co. enabled that firm to compete effectively with the top-of-the-line Steinway Duo-Art marketed by the Aeolian Co.

Metert, H.

Switzerland, Geneva, 1801-1855. Isaac Henri Metert was possibly in business as early as 1836 making musical boxes and produced boxes during the period 1844 to 1852 with David Langdorff as Metert and Langdorff. The partnership won an award at the 1851 Great Exhibition held in London, England. Considered a high quality maker. Year of manufacture usually scratched into left cylinder cap along with the serial number (e.g. 2/48 – February, 1848).

Monarch Tool & Manufacturing Co.

Cincinnati, OH, 1903-1928; Covington, KY, 1928-present. Made coin slides, accumulators, chutes, wallboxes, tracker bars, music roll mechanisms, and other parts for many American manufacturers of coin pianos and orchestrions, including “kits” that were used by many small piano companies to build coin pianos.

National Automatic Music Co.

(National Piano Mfg. Co.) Grand Rapids, MI. Made coin pianos, circa 1909-mid 1920s, featuring an automatic roll changing mechanism that enabled patrons to select the next tune. Continued in business making jukeboxes under the name Automatic Musical Instrument Co. (AMI), predecessor to today’s Rowe-AMI.

North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory

North Tonawanda, NY. Founded by Eugene deKleist in 1893. Made barrel organs, mainly for the amusement industry. Eugene deKleist’s use of brass trumpets, clarinets, and piccolos established the “American style” of band organ through the late 1910s. Name changed to the deKleist Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co. in 1897 when its product line was expanded to supply the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of Cincinnati with its first coin pianos.


Ste-Croix, Switzerland. Several generations of family members made fine quality cylinder music boxes, 1813-early 1900s. The Paillard family made several important developments in cylinder box design and manufacturing, including improvements in tune changing, interchangeable cylinders, and the revolver box.

Peerless Piano Player Company

(Roth & Engelhardt; Engelhardt Piano Co.; National Music Roll Co.; National Piano Player Co.; National Electric Piano Co.) St. Johnsville, NY. One of America’s pioneer makers of coin pianos, orchestrions, and rolls circa 1890-1915. Acquired the Seybold Piano Co. of Elgin, IL circa 1914, declared bankruptcy in 1915. Frederick Kornburst, a former employee, continued making music rolls in the Peerless factory building under the name National Music Roll Co., and in the 1920s organized the National Electric Player Piano Co., manufacturing coin pianos and orchestrions.

Polyphon Musikwerke

Leipzig, Germany, 1887-1930s. The world’s largest manufacturer of disc music boxes; the period of greatest popularity was from 1895-1905. At one time the firm employed over 1,000 people. In later years, sold mechanical pianos, pneumatically-played pianos, phonographs, and other items. Helped found the Regina Music Box Company in the U.S.

QRS Music Co.

DeKalb, IL, and other locations, 1919-present. Founded as a subsidiary of the Melville Clark Piano Co. in 1900, QRS eventually became America’s largest maker of player piano rolls. Its coin-operated division made coin piano and orchestrion rolls for Operators Piano Co., Marquette Piano Co., J.P. Seeburg Piano Co., and others. Melville Clark’s brother, Ernest G. Clark, was instrumental in developing the roll-making equipment for QRS. QRS was acquired by Tom Pletcher in 1918, moved to Chicago circa 1919, with branches in New York City and San Francisco during the 1920s. Acquired by Max Kortlander and moved to New York City in 1931. Acquired by Ramsi Tick and moved to Buffalo, NY, in 1966. (For related companies, see Melville Clark Piano Co. and Clark Orchestra Roll Co.)

Regina Music Box Company

Rahway, NJ, 1892-1921. America’s largest maker of disc music boxes, selling about 100,000 mainly from 1892 through the mid ‘teens. Sponsored by the Polyphon Musikwerke in Leipzig, Germany. Also made cylinder phonographs, combination disc music box/ disc phonographs, and musical clocks. Sold mechanical pianos and a few pneumatically-played coin pianos. Made floor polishers and vacuum cleaners starting in 1924. The brand name is still used today.

Roullet & Decamps

Paris, France. Major manufacturer of automata, many with musical movements, circa late 1860s-present. After the 1920s, the spring-operated mechanisms were replaced with electric motors. Founder Jean Roullet’s great-granddaughter Cosette and her husband Georges Bellancourt operate the firm today.

Ruth, A., & Sohn

Waldkirch, Germany, circa 1840s-1940. One of Germany’s premier builders of hand-cranked barrel organs from 1870 to 1900, and fairground organs, with most being built circa 1900-1914. The firm was taken over by Heinrich Voigt (Frankfurt, Germany) whose grandson continues to repair organs and manufacture cardboard book music today.


(from around 1870 on was spelled řebiček), Franz. Maker of musical movements who won several prizes for his boxes and musical movements in world exhibitions. Movements were made in typical Austrian format with bass notes on the right side and next to the governor. These musical movements were made mostly for clocks and can be found in the Austrian style of clocks, 1828-1870. In cooperation with Alois Willenbacher until 1842.

Seeburg, J.P., Piano Company

Chicago, IL. Made coin pianos and orchestrions, 1907-1928. America’s largest manufacturer during the 1920s. Renamed the J.P. Seeburg Company in 1928 and then J.P. Seeburg Corporation in 1929; made jukeboxes, vending machines and other products until March 1980. Modern companies using the Seeburg trademark have made jukeboxes and computers.


Four generations of family members have built and repaired portable hand-cranked organs, street organs (including the world-famous Dutch street organ “The Arab”), fairground organs, and dance organs since 1884. Business names have included Jan Verbeeck (1884-1914, Antwerp, Belgium); J. Verbeeck & Sons (Birmingham, then London, England, 1914-1949); Pierre Verbeeck (Antwerp, Belgium, 1918-1938); Verbekson (Deurne, Belgium, 1944-1947); and Verbeeck Zoon (St. Job-in-‘t-Goor, Belgium, 1965-1979). Johnny Verbeeck and his wife Marijke have operated the business in St. Job-in-‘t-Goor under the name J. Verbeeck since 1979.

Weber, Gebrüder, Waldkircher Orchestrionfabrik

Waldkirch, Germany, 1883-early 1930s. Made barrel and then cardboard-operated organs (early years); then roll-operated electric pianos and orchestrions (from 1904 on) that are highly regarded for their exceptional musicality, due to their excellent design and music roll arrangements.

Welte, M., & Söhne

Vöhrenbach, Germany (1832-1872); Freiburg, Germany (1872-1950); sales office in New York City (opened 1906); factory in Poughkeepsie, NY (1913-1917). Manufactured flute clocks and barrel orchestrions (early years), roll-operated orchestrions (c.1887-1920s), pipe organs (1900-WWII; mostly between 1913-1929), reproducing pianos (1904-1929). Also marketed a few fairground organs and coin pianos. One of the world’s most important automatic musical manufacturing companies.

Wurlitzer, Rudolph, Co.

Rudolph Wurlitzer founded the company in 1856 in Cincinnati, OH, as a musical instrument retailer, selling all types of instruments. The Wurlitzer Co. was the country’s leading distributor of Regina music boxes (1890s), exclusive distributor of J.D. Philipps orchestrions (1903-1914), the country’s largest distributor and then a major manufacturer of coin pianos, orchestrions, and photoplayers (late 1890s-late 1920s), band organs (late 1890s-1930s), and theatre organs (late ‘teens-1929). The manufacturing division in North Tonawanda, NY, was called the Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Co. In the 1920s, Wurlitzer’s coin piano and orchestrion sales were overtaken by the J.P. Seeburg Piano Co. In the 1940s, Wurlitzer took the lead with its colorful new jukeboxes, to be overtaken by Seeburg again in the 1950s. After WWII, Wurlitzer was also a leading producer of hand-played pianos (mainly for the home market), electronic pianos, modern spinet player pianos and organs. Piano and electronic keyboard production was sold to the Baldwin Piano and Organ Co. in 1988. At the time of this printing, a Wurlitzer factory in Germany continues to build adaptations of the famous 1946 jukebox, the Model 1015. The current version plays audio CDs.