Last Updated: 10/8/2008


"Musical Box; A History and Collector's Guide," by Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume. Published in 1980 by George Allen & Unwin, London. First Edition. Hard cover with dust jacket, 410 pages with 161 Plates (black-and-white photographs, with descriptions) and 45 Figures (drawings). The book measures 10 inches (25.2 cm) high by 7 inches (19 cm) wide.

Text from the dust jacket is as follows:

"Arthur Ord-Hume's earlier book Collecting Musical Boxes quickly established itself as the best introduction to the subject. In this new book, a very much larger, more comprehensive and more profusely illustrated work, he tells the detailed story of the birth of the musical box and its development from a charming novelty to an instrument capable of serious musical interpretation. Written by a world-wide authority on automatic musical instruments, the book is the fruit of more than thirty years' study of musical boxes and their history. It traces the progress of the musical box during the nineteenth century and shows how it reached its peak of perfection round about the time of the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851, while its peak of production came much later with the mass production of the disc musical box in the late 1880s and 1890s.

Arthur Ord-Hume argues that much of what has up till now been accepted as the early history of the musical box may not be altogether accurate, and he offers evidence to suggest that the very first comb-playing musical movements were around as early as 1750.

The book concludes with the most comprehensive biographical listing (nearly 500 names) of makers and patentees of musical boxes ever attempted and an appendix illustrating tune sheets, accompanied by a list of the makers who used them, which together will enable the collector to identify many boxes previously unidentifiable.

Interest in mechanical musical instruments has never been greater than at the present time., Not only has the number of collectors (both private collectors and investors, dealers and museums) increased enormously throughout the world in recent years, but the importance of earlier mechanical instruments as interpreters of music hitherto forgotten and of styles long since lost is at last gradually being recognised.

Illustrated throughout with the author's own clear drawings and with carefully chosen photographs, Musical Box and its companion volume Restoring Musical Boxes (by the same author) are probably the most comprehensive and authoritative reference books available on the subject. Both books will without doubt be invaluable for collectors, restorers, museums and dealers. However, both are written in such a way that they can be read with interest and pleasure by novice and expert alike."

List Of Plates
  1. Mechanical Musical Instruments
  2. The Musical Box - Its Definition, Birth and Evolution
  3. Miniature Musical Movements
  4. The Cylinder Musical Box
  5. Cylinder Musical-Box Classification and Makes
  6. The Disc-Playing Musical Box
  7. Disc Musical-Box Classification and Makes
  8. The Musical-Box Nations - A Survey of the Industry
  9. Other Forms of Mechanical Musical Instrument
  10. Tips for Collectors
  11. Musical Box Makers, Patentees and Agents Identified
  1. British Patents Relating to Musical Boxes
  2. Musical Box Tune Sheets - A Guide to Identification
List of Associations for Collectors of Musical Boxes

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