Restoring an 1840 Lecoultre forte-piano music box

Charles Wilson describes his restoration of a Lecoultre forte-piano music box (ca 1840) that he completed over a period 18 years! This complete restoration included repining the “fat” cylinder, re-tuning the comb, replacing the soundboard, and a unique reconstruction of brass inlay in the case, and more! An inspiring story to read with photos. Here is a link to the photos and sound file on the MBSI website.   https://mbsi.org/photo_gal/lecoultre-piano-forte-cylinder-music-box/

Bill Wineburgh presents a detailed review of the Mermod Freres cylinder box tune change mechanisms, with close up photos of various snail cams and the change control levers. Bill has also included a full summary table that covers the various models and their salient properties. I had no idea there were so many Mermod varieties!

Hope Rider remembered Don Stinson, the organ restorer and new organ builder, over the period from 1966-2019. Many of us have heard Stinson organs at various rallies, even if we did not know they were Stinson’s. A fond remembrance, with color photos to enjoy.

David Worrall continues his series of sacred music on cylinder boxes. In this article he provides background on the rise in popularity of hymns.

Reaching back to the 13th century, Dr Robert Penna writes of a programmable automata orchestra that entertained guests on a royal boat. A four-meter long replica of al-Jazari’s Musical Boat, featuring a mechanical “robot band,” is on exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre. You will want to read about this ancient Arab technology.

Regrettably, it was announced that the joint MBSI / AMICA annual meeting scheduled for September has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

To receive this issue, you can join MBSI on our website, click https://mbsi.org/join-mbsi/ . Select the new member discounted option.

Check out the May-June issue of Mechanical Music


Several interesting articles will appear in May/June 2020 MBSI Mechanical Music, delivered to subscribers right around May 1, 2020.

Many of us own a Regina music box, and an article in this issue, by Harold Wade, describes two Regina disc boxes with bells. He describes how they were purchased and then restored. The Porter Music Box Company performed the restoration and was able to supply reproduction discs, which are quite rare. Since original discs are usually not good to play in “as found” condition, reproduction discs are recommended. I enjoyed reading about these relatively rare music boxes and admiring the photos.

Other interesting articles include a chapter tour-visit to a fabulous collection in Southern California, an article about relief-carved music box cases, and another great”Nickel Notes” article by Matt Jaro – this one is about using relational databases to catalog your rolls and discs. I was also fascinated by how Jay Carsman coaxed his Regina Corona 12 disc changer back to smooth operation. There is more in this excellent issue, and as an MBSI member, you will receive your copy soon. If you are not a member, consider joining MBSI and receive a New Member Discount.

Knowles Little

MBSI Awards 70th Annual Meeting

Interested in seeing who won awards at the MBSI Annual Meeting in Rockville, MD? Well, now you can find out by clicking the link above and viewing the PDF presentation for yourself.

MBSI is pleased to announce Musical Boxes from Prauge and Vienna

Musical Boxes from Prague and Vienna by Dr. Helmut Kowar

MBSI is pleased to announce the availability of a new book you may wish to add to your mechanical music library. There are many volumes about the history of musical boxes made in Switzerland, Germany, and France, but that is not all of the story. There was also a thriving industry producing quality musical boxes in the nineteenth century in the Austrian Empire. Information about those instruments, particularly for English speakers, has been much harder to come by.

We are pleased to announce that an important work on this subject, previously only available in German, has been released in a revised and updated English language edition. It is Musical Boxes from Prague and Vienna by Dr. Helmut Kowar, issued by the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. Several organizations financial contributions have made this possible. The Musical Box Society International and the Musical Box Society of Great Britain jointly funded the printing cost. Translation was funded by two foundations, the Franz-Josef Mayer-Gunthof Wissenschafts und Forschungsstiftung and the Stiftung Familie Philipp Politzer.

The volume is generously sized at approximately 8¼ x 11 ¾, runs 246 pages, is generously illustrated and includes an extensive catalog of known instrument examples. It is currently available from the Academy at https://verlag.oeaw.ac.at/musical-boxes-from-prague-and-vienna. (Note the icon at the upper right of the webpage that makes an English language version of the web page available.) Dr. Kowar has informed us that the Academy will be making the book available on Amazon as well.

MBSI Awards 69th Annual Meeting

Click the image to view a PDF of the full awards presentation from the MBSI Annual Meeting

Interested in seeing who won awards at the MBSI Annual Meeting in Detroit, MI? Well, now you can find out by clicking the link above and viewing the PDF presentation for yourself.

New Mechanical Music Radio station available

James Dundon has launched a 24/7 online website playing mechanical music. He says, “It’s a project I’ve been working on for sometime, and last night I hit the button and put it live. At the moment it’s in ‘test transmission’ stages playing continuous music. It’s actual launch will be this Sunday 1st April at 9 am. Please can you help me spread the word. Share news about this to anyone you think might be interested. You can find out all about the station and tune in now.
“We are on Facebook and Twitter under ‘Mechanical Music Radio.’ Also you might be able to help me with some music. I’m looking for iconic instruments from around the world. If you have a CD you have released, or a personal recording you’re particularly proud of, please be in touch. You can post, wetransfer or dropbox the audio to be for broadcast. Email mechmusicradio@outlook.com.”
Tune into the radio station at http://www.mechanicalmusicradio.com/

Morris Museum’s For Amusement Only collection featured in the news

A few technical details may be slightly askew, but journalist Harriet Baskas takes you on a tour of the new exhibit that is part of the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection at the Morris Museum.

See the slideshow at this link.

A local New Jersey television station provided video coverage available to view below.