Last Updated: 10/7/2008


"History of the Musical Box and of Mechanical Music," by Alfred Chapuis. English translation by Joseph E. Roesch. Published in 1980 by the Musical Box Society International, , USA. This book was reprinted in 1992. This work was originally published in French as Historie de la Boîte à musique et de la Musique mécanique, in 1955 by Edition Scriptar S.A., Lausanne, Switzerland. Hard cover with dust jacket, 303 pages with over 300 drawings and black-and-white photographs. The book measures 11-1/4 inches (28.5 cm) high by 8-3/4 inches (22.2 cm) wide.

Text from the dustjacket is as follows:

"Published in Switzerland in 1955 under the title as Historie de la Boîte à musique et de la Musique mécanique, the original edition (in French) consisted of 1,500 numbered copies and was out of print for many years even though it was much in demand. In keeping with its policy of doing what it can to make available works of significance in the field of mechanical music instruments, the Musical Box Society International had the original text translated into English ... in 1980. Every effort was made to produce an accurate and highly readable idiomatic translation and, in the words of the translator, Dr. Joseph Roesch, "to say it as Chapuis would have said it had his native language been English."

The author, Professor Alfred Chapuis (1880-1958), in addition to being a distinguished educator, scholar and historian, wrote numerous books and articles on various subjects. Although his principal interest was horology, his fascination with mechanical musical instruments was deep and long lasting. This comprehensive work, written as it was in the "cradle of the music box" with the help of experts in their particular fields, is as timely now as it was when it was written and is made more interesting because of the more than 300 illustrations that he was able to assemble, the majority of which have never appeared elsewhere.

This volume is an important document for scholars, and the general reader will find it an absorbing account of the history, the mechanisms and the music of these delightful relics of a bygone era."


Preface to the Edition of the Musical Box Society International
Translator's Preface
Author's Dedication

              PART ONE

  1. Some Considerations on the Production of Sound and Its Characteristics
  2. Mechanical Carillons: The Beginnings of Mechanical Music
  3. Mechanical Organs. The Augsburg Masters
  4. The Early Eighteenth Century: A Turning Point. Engramelle. The French and Viennese Masters
  5. Musical Clocks
  6. Barrel Organs, Fair Organs, Orchestrions
  7. An Original Album
  8. Machines Which Notate Music
  9. A Mechanical Marvel: The Componium of D.N. Winkel (Text by Mr. René Lyr)
  10. The Metronome: A Mechanical Conductor
  11. Mechanical Pianos and Violins


  12. Who Invented the Comb-Playing Musical Mechanism?
  13. The First Types of Musical Boxes
  14. The Musical-Box Industry in Geneva beginning with 1815
  15. The Principle Types of Early Musical Movements Used in Seals, Jewelry, Watches, and Old Snuffboxes
  16. The Development of Comb-Playing Mechanisms outside of Geneva: La Valée de Joux, Canton of Neuchâtel, Sainte-Suzanne in France
  17. The Beginnings in Sainte-Croix
  18. The Manufacture of Musical Boxes in Switzerland around 1867. The Progress of the Sainte-Croix Region
  19. Geneva and Sainte-Croix at the Swiss National Exposition of 1896. Other Exhibitions. The Tuners
  20. The Technology of the Musical Box
  21. The Principal Types of Musical Boxes
  22. Some Early Examples of Fanciful Objects Fitted witrh Musical Units
  23. Disc Musical Boxes
  24. Musical-Box Commerce throughout the World
  25. Some Recent Exhibitions
  26. The Artistic Value of the Musical Box
  27. The Musical Box and the Question of Copyright

              NAME INDEX

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