Celebrating Musical Antiques

Musical antiques are some of the most sought-after collectors’ items. Their timeless charm and character have enchanted antique enthusiasts for decades. Read on to learn more about these incredible pieces!

Interchangeable 6 Cylinder Music Box, c. 1885

The antique music box, whether a Swiss cylinder music box or an American or German disc playing music box, is one of the most magical machines of the ages. Few antiques can stimulate and delight the senses the way a melodious music box does when it begins to play.

Automatic musical instruments’ entertained royalty and those fortunate few who could afford them in the 18th and 19th centuries and were one of the most expensive and important status symbols of their day. However, only a small percentage of today’s population will ever hear one or even know that antique music boxes exist.

Music boxes are among scarcest and most esoteric types of antiques in the marketplace, making them an excellent investment as increasing demand and diminishing supply continue to drive prices higher each year.

Double Comb Disc Music Box, circa 1890

There is something about an antique cylinder music box that is enchanting and elegant. These machines are something truly indescribable as the tone and the notes themselves transport you to a different time. These are rare and exquisite music boxes from the 1840’s to 1890’s primarily and were hand made predominantly by the Swiss. Each one is a unique piece of art that emanates delicate music, with most cylinders having between six and twelve tunes. The most elite cylinder music boxes have multiple cylinders for your listening enjoyment.

Swiss Cylinder Music Box with Rosewood Case and Table, circa 1885

Cylinder music boxes are also considered Orchestral when they have additional adaptations including reed organ, castanet, drum, bells, etc.

Swiss Cylinder Orchestral Music Box, circa 1885

Disc music boxes are equally scarce having been made between 1885 and 1905. They were made in a variety of qualities and sizes, playing discs of 6” diameter on up to huge machines playing 27” discs. The Germans and Americans dominated this market with only a small percentage of disc boxes produced in Switzerland.

American Olympia Disc Music Box, circa 1890

American Porter Disc Music Box and Cabinet

Disc music boxes come in three types: table top, upright, and disc changer. Some may also have a coin operated feature, where one must input a coin in order to play a song.

German Symphonion Disc Music Box, circa 1890

Discs to fit the 15-1/2″ Regina music boxes are still being produced today. There are over 1,000 titles available, everything from musical theater tunes to the Beatles, along with a huge assortment of classic Christmas tunes.

Regina Corona Double Comb Disc Music Box, c.1900

Regina Corona Disc Changer Music Box, c.1890

Check back soon to find the next installment, all about phonographs and other 20th century musical antiques! To see more of our collection of musical antiques, click here.

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