My plunge has delved deeper. When I went to the Grayslake Antique Fair in August 2012, there were representatives from the Musical Box Society International (www.mbsi.org). The hand-cranked and wind-up at the fair were spectacular. I never knew that Victrola horns could be so ornate. Captivated, I sent $50 to the MBSI. If anything, I figured that it would be worth it to see all the vintage audio ephemera.
The MBSI is no shabby fanclub. (Not when you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars for orchestrions and automata.) They sent me a show catalog for Music in Time: A special exhibition of Musical Boxes, the latest glossy issue of Mechanical Music: the Journal of the Musical Box Society International and the Mechanical Music Directory, the listing of current members, museums and dealers. These have helped me find more mechanical music resources in our area.
Marty Persky of Lincolnwood, IL, is the proprietor of Mechmusic. He has helped to identify and appraise items for auction houses like England’s Christie’s and Sotheby’s. His knowledge has been put to use for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, and the Smithsonian Institute.
Al and Susan Choffnes of Bannockburn, IL, run Collectors World, Inc. (www.collectorsworldinc.com). Items on their sales list run from $50 for a print to… well just take a look and stare in wonder. Their website offers a valuable introduction for anyone who may be interested in collecting mechanical music devices.
For those willing to travel a bit, the LaPorte (Indiana) County Historical Society Museum features a player piano, musical boxes (please don’t say “music boxes” around the MSBI) and phonographs that they will demonstrate. They are available at laportecountyhistory.org. Dunlop, IL, (near Peoria) features the Wheels O’ Time Museum (www.wheelsotime.org). It began because, at the website states, “two guys, living in the Peoria, Illinois area, needed storage space for a number of collector cars, especially Packards.” The museum now has a player piano, a barrel piano and an Edison phonograph.
The Musical Box Society International will host its 64th Annual Meeting in Chicago from August 27 through September 1, 2013. I may have to keep you posted.