My First Key-wind Box

About 30 years ago I managed to buy my first key-wind musical box, a Nicole Freres serial number 36261, factored by Cox Savory, Cornhill, London, in about 1858.

I was giving talks on mechanical music to groups and at one of these a gentleman offered to sell me a musical box. This had never happened before and I became very interested. I went to his house and sitting on a coffee table was a 13-inch cylinder key-wind musical box.

He set it going and it slowly built up speed and started to play. It was obviously missing a large number of cylinder pins but worryingly it was vibrating noisily and moving along the length of the coffee table. I do not advocate my next action and it was probably more a reflex than anything else, but I shoved my finger into the endless fan and stopped any further movement. …………

The owner pointed out that in about 1920 his brother had poked his finger in (as I had done) but something had broken and the damage occurred. He was only about 6 years old at the time but it was etched on his memory. I had a deal on the box on the understanding that I would bring it back for him to see and hear when restored……………..  I was able to take the box back in a refreshed case to its last owner and watch his face when he heard it play properly for the first time in about 70 years.

From Issue 4, Spring 2016 of Mechanical Music World. To read this article in full become a member and receive a copy. Full details on Membership Page