Sunday, April 22, 2012
Discover the History of Mechanical Music, Part III
Copyright 2006 Monique Hawkins
There is much more to music figurines, wooden jewelry boxes, children's jewelry boxes, and wooden keepsake boxes that meet the eye. Indeed, all mechanical music, including music boxes, has a unique history. Let's continue to discover what that is.
After the creation of carillons, chiming watches, and barrel organs, musical movements made from carillons without bells or hammers began. After Antoine Favre's creation of using a steel toothcomb, which could be plucked to make music (cylinder music box), initially no one thought of making a music box just to enjoy. However some, such as Phillppe Meyland did begin to make musical snuffboxes, and a group of watchmakers in 1810 and began to work on manufacturing small movements for watches and seals in Geneva. This resulted in the Geneva industry beginning and was started by the likes of Henri Capt, Les Freres, Long Champs, Morse Aubert, and Pierre Rochot. Sometime later in 1812, L.G. Jaccard, Jereme ReCordon started a similar product.
Once the mechanical music industry was started and settled, trade was brisk and further developments with musical boxes continued to improve until they reached their peak in 1870. It is interesting to note that by this time, there was virtually no music, which could not be played by a music box.
In 1890, a different musical mechanism began to impact the success of the comb and cylinder musical box. David Tallis in "Music Boxes: A Guide for Collectors" stated that: "Instead of putting the music onto a brass cylinder by means of pins, it was being set on steel discs, which were interchangeable and expendable. The polyphon had arrived and immediately caught everyone?s imagination with its unlimited repertoire of music. It was mass produced and soon took over the market which had previously been the sole right of the cylinder box manufacturer."
Unfortunately, the success of the disc music boxes weren?t to last. The two main German companies for disc music boxes existed for 25 years, and the American Regina Company lasted a little longer, until 1919. The phonograph, a unique musical production, eventually took the place of the cylinder and Regina music boxes. Author David Tallis has this to say about the phonograph: " It resulted from an invention which was made before that of the disc music box. In 1877, Thomas Edison made his phonograph. He put on a record made of tin foil and recited into the horn the first line of 'Mary Had A Little Lamb'."
Of course, it took time for the phonograph to develop where it could compete with the cylinder and disc musical boxes. However, by 1900, they were beginning to become more notable and very popular.
The history of mechanical music is truly interesting and like no other. So, the next time you play your music box figurine, wooden jewelry box, children's jewelry box, and wooden keepsake box, you can remember what makes them so special.