Musical Box Society of Great Britain
At the Society Annual General Meeting on Saturday 1st June,
Alison Biden was elected to be the next President/Chairman
This follows the retirement of Arthur Cunliffe,
who served in the post seven years.
John Phillips and Bob Yates were elected as Joint Vice Presidents.
MBSGB Committee 2013 -14
Volunteers wanted to assist with Exhibition
MBSGB is holding an exhibition to coincide with a conference on mechanical music to be held on 7th & 8th July at the Guildhall School of Music, London. The exhibition is intended to showcase the MBSGB. If you have any ideas or can help in any way, such as help design and write publicity material, or man the stand, display items and talk about the Society, please contact the Archivist, Alison Biden, asap on 01962 861350, email:firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on the conference itself, refer to the Spring issue of The Music Box, or go to www.gsmd.ac.uk.
The 1st December saw the society celebrating its 50th Anniversary at the beautiful surroundings of Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire. Forty members and guests attended the dinner with the majority staying overnight. The event started with welcome drinks in the bar, followed by an excellent dinner in one of the priories wonderful function rooms. Afterwards each table of ten was supplied with small tuned bells and were required to perform a Christmas carol, after a few minutes practice they were judged by the Priory manager, who chose the table who he thought gave the best performance.
The following morning started with perhaps the highlight of the weekend. One of the members had put together a one-hour film of Photographs and film covering the last 50 years of the society from black and white film of the very first meeting, when it was decided to form The Musical Box Society of Great Britain, to video of the last regional meeting. Most of those in attendance were able to spot themselves on the film and could see their hair changing colour over the years.
We regret to announce that a long standing member of this society, Peter Murray passed away on the 3rd January 2013. We offer our sincere condolences to Carolyn and the family. It is hoped that an obituary will follow soon.
Arno van der Heijden. 1950 – 2012
Eventually he left Fokker and his hobby became his business. He went on to become one of Holland’s leading restorers taking on commissions from as far away as the USA, Australia and of course every corner of Europe.
Mechanical music was his life. His knowledge and experience of ‘music machines’ was vast and he contributed much to Kevin McElhone’s recent book “The Disc Music Box”.
Sadly, we lost for ever that fountain of knowledge on 30th December 2012 after a most unexpected but thankfully brief battle with cancer.
Teme Valley Winders Christmas Meeting, 8th December 2012
Nearly 30 members from the local area (Worcestershire) as well as Derbyshire, Staffordshire Northamptonshire and the West Midlands arrived about mid-day to be treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch provided by our hosts. The entertainment was then started by J who demonstrated the ability to computer MIDI files on his Yamaha Disklavier piano. Then, to everyone’s surprise, he was able to switch the tune from this piano to his Weber Grand Duo-Art piano. This was achieve because J had recently fitted an “e-valve” system to the Weber which enables it to play from MIDI instructionsincluding the ability to control the Duo-Art expression mechanism. There was then some discussion about the pros and cons of fitting such a system to a traditional player piano. K then played a proper paper roll by Ampico – Grandmother’s Christmas Medley. Another roll followed, played by N – Blues Tone No. 137050, Top Liner Rag by Joseph Lamb.
On a different theme, A continued the saga of his unicycling automaton explaining that, after the previous meeting, he had been encouraged to make an epicyclic gearbox for the wheel and pedals to exaggerate the pedal movement. This beautifully executed mechanism was duly demonstrated. Tea and cakes followed.
Moving on to Organettes, R assisted by N, demonstrated his Autophone organette. Autophones were one of the earliest American organettes in which the tune card is advanced in steps as the bellow is squeezed. R and E then demonstrated their Tanzbar automatic accordions which were both fairly early models. The last organette was a Peerless demonstrated by J. This has the same scale as the Celestina and others, but plays better than most. A few musical Christmas novelties were then demonstrated by various members, the items including a singing bear’s head, an animated dog, a rocking reindeer and a train in a matchbox..
Musical boxes were next with B demonstrating a very nice 12 tune instrument from the Bulleid collection, followed by D showing his “box of doom”. The box seems to be a marriage of parts, with a heavily modified case, and a mechanism which seems to play several tunes at once – an ongoing project.
Finally J played some of his larger instruments including the Imhoff & Mukle barrel organ, and the 48 note Racca piano. The next meeting will be on 15th June 2013.
Report of First Meeting of Midlands Group, MBSGB.
20 October 2012
Thirteen members attended the first meeting of the new Midlands Regional Group. The format for the meeting was the one used successfully on the other regional meetings where attendees are invited to give a short presentation about some item of interest they have brought to the meeting.
N started the ball rolling with a few non-musical but clockwork driven items from his ‘other’ collection, which are lively tin toys, all in the form of trains and other moving vehicles. These date from the 1950’s to the present day. K followed with a demonstration of a rare model of the 6 ½” Polyphon. This is unusual in having a shallow case with the comb set at 45 degrees and being centre wind. The stop-start is also unusual in utilising the edge cut-out in the disc, which is ignored on the majority of this size Polyphon.
R and E brought along a pair of 28 note Tanzbaers, which along with the resident Tanzbaer, demonstrated the progression of the design of these instruments. All three, being nominally identical, showed significant differences in design, construction and overall dimensions. D played three tunes on an early DucommonGirod musical box. This had a plaque on the lid inscribed “Charlotte My Love Lt Phillips”, and also included an old slip of paper explaining how to operate the box, no doubt written by Lt Phillips to Charlotte. The tone and musical arrangements were excellent.
B had brought along a very good Mira table model which played 18 ½” discs. This had been beautifully restored and was well received. Other members of the group also spoke about instruments they had brought and then it was time for a break for afternoon tea.
After tea, everyone returned to listen to the resident instruments, which range from small organettes up to piano orchestrions and a dance organ. Although having a smaller attendance than some other regional groups, due to the more widely spaced nature of MBSGB members in this area, all those attending decided that it had been a success and that another meeting should be arranged.
Meetings will be held twice a year, with the next one on Saturday 23 March, 2013. Full details are given on the meetings page of The Music Box.
Essex Group meeting 27th April 2013
The main theme for the day was disc musical boxes, although all other types of mechanical music were welcome. 20 members attended representing six counties.
Our day started with a further look at a member’s work on making his own musical box from scratch. He demonstrated how he used an electronic keyboard and associated composing software to arrange music for it.
We then enjoyed a one-hour film produced for our 50th anniversary year and put together by one of our society members. It showed film and stills of our society from the first meeting to 2012
We then started on the main theme, disc musical boxes. The award-winning author of “Disc Musical Boxes” Kevin McElhone, opened the programme and described the advantages of disc musical boxes over cylinder and demonstrated several types to us,
Most members brought along something to show and it made a very pleasant and sociable occasion, covering the musical, technical and historical facets of mechanical music.
Our next Essex meeting will be at a new venue:
Main theme Boxes with bells and automata. Please bring something along, not necessarily connected to the main theme. Please bring sandwiches for lunch, tea and coffee supplied.
Contact: Robert Ducat-Brown 01438 712585
Wessex Group inaugural meeting 28th October 2012
Fifteen people attended the first meeting of the Wessex Group which was held at Littleton Memorial Hall near Winchester, on Sunday 28th October. These included one surprise (and very welcome) visitor who owns an organette and who was interested to learn more about mechanical music instruments. Not everyone else knew each other, so the gathering achieved one of the aims: to introduce fellow enthusiasts to each other.
Being the first meeting, there was inevitably some discussion about how future meetings might evolve. It was decided to experiment with alternating between Saturdays and Sundays to allow those who cannot make one of the days the opportunity to attend at least once a year. The venue, with its convenient location, and other arrangements, met with general approval, and the suggested donation of £5 each towards costs covered them adequately.
Most people had brought along at least one item to demonstrate. Cylinder boxes dominated the programme with a wide variety shown and played, interspersed with a full rendition of the tunes on a Gavioli barrel organ, and a Serinette which was also featured. A stunning small double comb Symphonion proved that excellent and interesting music is not limited to large discs, whilst the display of one member’s current woodworking projects with mechanical music connections earned him the admiration of all.
Lively discussion accompanied the demonstrations, and most people left having learnt something new, as well as generally enjoying the entertainment. Both those interested in the more social aspect of the interest and those more inclined to discuss technical matters were well represented.
For further information on this and the next meeting, scheduled for Sunday, 23rd February, 2013 (date to be confirmed), contact Alison Biden, email: email@example.com or tel. 01962 861350.
Organs grinds during Advent
Four weekly organ grinds are planned in the run up to Christmas at Winchester’s Christmas Market, held in the Cathedral Close. Dates are: Wednesday 28th November; Friday 7th December; Thursday 13th December; Thursday 20th December.
Please contact Alison Biden (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01962 861350)for further information and details of arrangements. Grinders very welcome (the more the merrier.)
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Golden Jubilee celebration a great success
Interested in mechanical instrument restoration?
ANOTHER MUSEUM CLOSES
The Reed Organ Museum in Saltaire, Yorkshire, run by Phil & Pam Fluke for about 20+ years has just closed down & all instruments have been removed.
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