Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Encyclopedia of automatic musical instruments

Oh yes, it exists, all 1008 pages of it. I daresay it is a more concrete existence than, say, the New York Stock Exchange or the Dow, both of which require people to "believe" in them to function.

But I digress. An erudite conversation with a fellow colleague of some reknown rekindled my awareness of a very specific reference tome, The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments. (Q. David Bowers. Published in 1972 by The Vestal Press, Vestal, NY.)

Read it again: The Encyclopedia of automatic musical instruments. Now, use your scholarly imagination to parse that title. An automatic musical instrument. Now I shall tell you the publication date is 1972, so this might assist in imagining the scope and content of such a source.

This is a source that must be consulted should you require descriptions or illustrations of items such as:

Cylinder Music Boxes
Disc Music Boxes
Player Pianos
Reproducing Pianos
Coin-Operated Pianos and Orchestrions
Organettes and Player Organs
Fairground Organs

A salute to the dedicated scholarship that can produce a work of such comprehension and specificity, and to my dear colleague who remembers these works!

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