Collecting with Jeff
with Jeff Figler
One of the most enjoyable collectibles is that of a little box (in most cases) that plays lovely sounds. They have been around for a long, long time and can be extremely colorful and decorative. And they are indeed one type of collectible that you can place in even your nicest and most formal room.
I’m sure you have figured it out what I am describing. Yes, that’s right – music boxes.
Music boxes date back to 1796, when Antonio Favre first incorporated a musical gadget in not only watches, but also pendants and perfume bottles. Pins were set into a revolving cylinder to pluck the teeth, which then produced a musical tone. The note produced by each tooth was determined by the length of that tooth. Aha, the invention of the music box.
Much too technical for me no matter how simple it sounds. Some of the early music boxes have gone for as much as $1000 or higher. Not bad.
As a collector, you need to determine if you are collecting for looks, sound, scarcity, condition, or any other factor. Obviously, you should keep in mind that the older a music box, or any item for that matter, becomes, it becomes more fragile. I would not suggest that you try to play vintage music boxes too many times, or you might wind up with a broken box or handle.
Keep in mind, too, that many boxes may look very good, but do not play good music. Music boxes are one type of collectible that I would not suggest that you buy from eBay, or for that matter, sight unseen, or sound unheard. You might be sorry later.
Again, lest I be accused of being too technical, God forbid, the cylinder apparatus gave way to a more mechanical device with the development of Kalliope disk music boxes in the late 1800s. They were designed to accept separate songdisks, allowing for the music box to play many different pieces. As you can imagine, this development would eventually lead to the demise of the music box, with the advent of the record player.
As most people are aware, the designs of music boxes can be simply incredible. The creativity of the manufacturers is astounding. Some of the most beautiful pieces I have seen are those of carousels, human figures, as well as even animal adaptations.
The beauty of music boxes is that they make for excellent gifts, as well as being collectible. And they are very affordable as well, unless you are trying to track down vintage music boxes that were manufactured 200 years ago. But I urge you not to play the music too many times if you have one that is vintage.
And keep in mind as well that you will want to take a close look, if it is possible, at the item, if you are buying it online or unseen. Even if you see a picture of the item, there may possibly be flaws when you finally handle the piece. To restore the piece might be quite costly.
I know many people who enjoy collecting music boxes, and I think you will, too.
Collecting with Jeff