Music Box Repair & Restoration Company

By Timekeepers Clayton October 2, 2020

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A Music Box Restoration Expert’s Guide To The History of Music Boxes

As experts in music box restoration, the team here at TimeKeepers know all about the history of music boxes.

The Earliest Music Boxes

While the name of the inventor remains unknown, the first music boxes have been traced to Switzerland in the late 18th century. These idiophones were portable and were made up of just a handful of components – a flat comb of prongs, a turn-key or handle and the rotating cylinder. In order to play it, the key or handle needs to be turned and this makes the cylinder inside the instrument turn. As it turns, it brushes against the prongs to produce a sound. The melody produced is determined by raised spots which are placed in a sequence on top of the cylinder. These act like fingers playing piano keys. It’s likely that the early music boxes were made to miniaturize carillon towers. These were a system of big bronze bells which were played by pressing keys on a keyboard in a different room.

Music Boxes During The 1800s

Music boxes made in this period measured around 13” in length and featured 96 teeth as well as a brass cylinder which could be swapped out. Usually, the box was made of wood and would be undecorated. It could be opened up so the viewer could watch the cylinder turning around. Some of the earliest makers of music boxes included Nicole Freres, David Lecoultre and Reymond Nicole, and their pieces have previously been sold for thousands of dollars.
In the last years of the 19th century, the cylinders find in music boxes started to be replaced with easily storable and replaceable discs. This allowed owners to enjoy more songs. It also allowed progression towards creating player pianos and phonographs, but when these instruments became popular music box sales decreased dramatically.

Modern Music Boxes

21st century music boxes tend to be only made as novelties. They come in many forms – clocks, jewelry boxes, commemorative figures and snow globes among others. Unlike the earliest models, some are very ornate, featuring paintings or glasswork on their lids. Other times, they have transparent containers that allow the operator to look at the machine’s inner workings as it plays. Some music boxes even feature moving parts which wave or spin after the key has been turned. The price of a modern music box can range from just a few dollars up to hundreds of dollars.

Antique Music Box Repair Near Me?

If you have an antique music box and are wondering whether it would be worthwhile to get it repaired, contact the team here at TimeKeepers today. We can let you know the cost of your music box repair and can help restore it to its former glory.