Last Updated: 10/8/2008


"The Marvelous World of Music Machines" by Heinrich Weiss-Stauffacher and translated into English by James Underwood. Published in 1976 by Office du Livre, Fribourg. Hard cover, 244 pages with numerous excellent color photographs. The book measures 12-3/8 inches (31.5 cm) high by 10-5/8 inches (27 cm) wide. This book is also published in German as "Musikautomaten und mechanische Musikinstrumente"

Text from the dustjacket is as follows:

"Here is a handbook of Europe's largest and most comprehensive collection of musical automata and mechanical musical instruments. Some 300 music boxes, clocks, orchestrions, player-pianos, performing figurines, organs, and other delightful examples of music machines, dating from the eighteenth through the early twentieth century, are reproduced in full color. Detailed information about periods and styles of construction, musical actions and techniques, operation, and compositions played makes this an authoritative guide to a charming as well as technically intruguing world.

The collector-author first repaired a damaged Black Forest clock at the age of twelve. Later, when he began collecting, he made it a rule to acquire only defective devices and to restore them. The author knows his entire collection with the intimacy of having worked on each piece with his own hands. His skills as cabinetmaker and mechanic literally bring these objects to life and provide a wealth of information that makes this book a valuable and unique contribution. More than being just another catalogue of objects, here the author's delight in and devotion to these devices also restores their fantasy. These are machines of precision craftsmanship that, unlike the utilitarian appliances of today, were made to be enjoyed."

Systematic survey of musical automata and mechanical musical instruments
Descriptive catalogue of musical automata and mechanical musical instruments
1.     Idiophones
1.1   Percussion idiophones
1.2   Plucked idiophones
1.2.1 Musical boxes with steel combs and cylinder or disc (sur plateau)
1.2.2 Devices, moving figures, and pictures with built-in musical movement: comb and cylinder or disc (sur plateau)
1.2.3 Cylinder musical boxes with steel combs and small additional percussion idiophones
1.2.3 Disdc musical boxes wih steel combs and in some cases bells
1.3   Wind idiophones
1.3.1 Harmoniums, accordions, barrel-organs, and other free-reed instruments
1.3.2 Free-reed barrel-organs with moving figures
1.4   Mixed idiophones (musical boxes with steel combs and free reeds, etc.)

2.     Chordophones
2.1   Percussion chordophones
        The reproducing-piano
2.2   Plucked chordophones
2.3   String-and-percussion chordophones

3.     Aerophones
3.1   Organs and similar instruments
3.1.1 Organs for manual and automatic play
3.1.2 Organs for purely automatic play
3.1.3 Organs with hand-crank drive
3.1.4 Barrel-organs with moving figures
3.1.5 Flute-clocks
3.2   Moving figures with flute and/or reed pipe
3.3   Instruments, devices, or figures with one or more pipes of which the speaking-length can be shortened by means of a plunger (swanee whistle)

4.     Orchestrions
4.1   Orchestrions using mainly idiophones or chordophones
4.2   Orchestrions using mainly aerophones

5.     Various other instruments and devices
5.1   Special and composite instruments
5.2   Playing-devices
5.3   Punching-machines

    1. The "Welte-Mignon" reproducing-piano and its place in musical history
    2. Testimonials
    3. Instructions for testing and regulating the original Welte-built Welte-Mignon
    4. Hupfeld player-piano
    5. Rink Orchestras and picture show pianos
    6. Tracker Bars
    Selected bibliography

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