September 2016

Dear Visitors to Themusicboxman,
With the end of the year nearing fast, the number of visitors to
the site is increasing, as it does every year.
As usual most of the visitors are from English speaking countries,
the U.S.A. in  the first place, but also England, Canada , Australia.
But there is also a bump from visitors from Russia. Apparently
music boxes are a matter of interest there and it is one of the
countries with a small own industry of producing them.
Of course, worldwide most music boxes are now produced in China
and the quality has improved markedly, but still many are copies
of music boxes produced earlier in Japan, Europe and Taiwan. But
they have also developed some that are entirely their own.
Apart from China only Europe still has a small industry left of
producing music boxes, mostly more of an upmarket quality.
Musical Toys using the same music mechanism as music boxes are
not really produced anymore, safe for some small pockets. That
industry died in the nineties of the last century and has been
entirely replaced by battery or electrical toys. As most older
toys do not survive in any good condition as they are obviously
played with by kids, the markets for these musical toys are drying up.
I am therefore happy to have been able in time to build the Musical
Toys Collection as it is today, almost 600 items spanning the
decades from the fifties till the nineties. I am only able
to add to it very sparingly, may be 10 items this year, that
illustrates the difficulty of obtaining a quality musical toy now.
To build such a collection today would be next to impossible and
only at a higher outlay of money, as prices have been going up.
These higher prices will bring more toys out of the ‘ closet ‘, but
also that will end in the near future. Enjoy the Collection!!!
The market for music boxes is really on eBay and Etsy. My guess is
that for all the items offered for sale there (increasingly produced
in China), only 5-10% actually sell in the first offering, often only
those with no minimum to start with. Some price ideas
mentioned are wildly optimistic and unrealistic.
But some professional vendors in markets are defending their
own unrealistic high prices by saying, I could sell it at that price, or
even higher, on eBay, look at what prices are mentioned there. My
reply is if you could, why not do it and secondly do you realize
that only a small percentage sells at moderate prices, not the high
prices? Music boxes are a fun object to have and hopefully remain
attainable for most people interested.
If you look at the sections in my web site Music Boxes For Sale and
Musical Toys For Sale, you will note that I keep prices down, cheaper
than most.
Have a Good Holiday Season and a Happy New Year 2017.

December 2014

One of the many questions received regularly is to date the age of a music box.

Many music boxes were cherished heirlooms from mother or grandmother, with touching stories to go with it, but often thought older than they in my experience are. Some suppliers as Mann and Otagiri were good at putting a year of production on their music boxes, but such labels were often taken off or fell off in time, thus still leaving us with a mystery.

One imperfect way of dating is to look at the origin, if that is still available. Made in Japan generally dates to the seventies or earlier, as after that the production switched to other countries. The exception to that rule is a.o. Otagiri, that well into the eighties kept music box production in Japan.
From Japan it switched to Taiwan, with the heyday being in the eighties, and also to Korea, The Philippines, Macao, Hong Kong. From the nineties the production switched almost wholly to China.

There are certainly many exceptions to the timeline sketched above. Another way to date is to look at the plastic parts used in the music mechanisms, as over time more and more plastic parts were used. The music mechanism is not always easily accessible and my advice, that i follow myself, is to rather not be able to inspect the mechanism if it would damage or devalue the music box; be careful what you do!

Up till almost the end of the seventies, both in Japan and Europe (Reuge), the first plastic
part, an axle and wheel to the governor, appeared; before that time the music mechanisms
were wholly made of metal only. This first plastic part covered the very end of the sixties
and the seventies.

Than late in the seventies and mainly in the eighties more plastic parts appeared, specially
an inner plastic tube in the cylinder with wheels and a plastic wheel in the spring chamber.
Also the governor is mostly being made of plastic at this time.

In the nineties most parts of the music mechanism are made in plastic, including the spring
house and only the bedpan, the cylinder and the comb are still made of metal.
Between the 2 methods, origin and plastic parts in mechanisms, a rough dating is possible.