Mom’s old musicbox

One of the joys of moving is that you find old stuff that folks have been wondering about. Our move didn’t find some photos that Dad is looking for, but it did turn up the disks for Gracie’s old music box.

We pulled the music box out today and fired it up. It still works, although the the workings sound like they need cleaning and oiling — no wonder, it’s been in our closet for at least 25 years and probably hasn’t been used in 75.

Music box

Here’s the music box, all closed up.

Music box name plate

Here’s the nameplate — J. Werner of Hamburg, a “Musikwaaren Fabrik” made in Hamburg. My guess would be late 1800’s, but it’s hard to tell. Not much comes up when I do a search on those terms.

Music box - open

Here’s the box all opened up. Dang, I wish Mom hadn’t used masking tape to hold that glass lid in place. I’m going to have to find some magic goo to get that stuff off without lifting the finish.

Music box - combs

Here’s a picture of the combs — looks like 2 combs t’me. Some more cool goo, plus some gentle work with the Dremel tool, required to clean those up.

Music box - makers mark 1

Here’s the first of two name-stickers on the inside of the music box. It’s interesting that both this one and the other one (see below) have had a corner cut out of them. Since it’s the same corner, and it’s clearly on purpose, one wonders what was going on here.

Music box - makers mark 2

See? They really went after this one with their razor knife. Strange

Music box - comb and damper detail

Here’s a detail shot of the combs. There are little dampers off to the right side of each comb that quiet the note before it’s plucked again. Some of those dampers look pretty narly.

Music box - disk

Here’s a disk (we have about 20 in the stack). Some are just rusty like this one, some are covered with some kind of weird moldy varnish-like stuff.

Music box - side

And here’s a detail shot of one of the side handles.

I think I may peck away at restoring this a little bit. I view this as a connection back to Mom and Gracie which would be nice to bring back at least to operating condition. I’ll post progress notes to the blog as things unfold. There are folks who are interested in these music boxes, they call themselves the Music Box Society International. I think I’ll hook up with my local chapter and see what kind of resources they have. There’s also Nancy Fratti, who is really into restoring music boxes like these and runs classes in how to do it. It would be fun to go out and take her class.

I recorded one of the disks. Click HERE to listen to the recording. It’s got lots of whirring noises in it — that’s the gizmo that needs oiling and cleaning. But the sound is really neat nonetheless. A great old thing — hopefully a little TLC will bring it back.

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