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    Regina Musical Automaton

    Appraised Value:

    $3,000 - $5,000

    Appraised on: July 31, 2004

    Appraised in: Memphis, Tennessee

    Appraised by: Gary Piattoni

    Category: Science & Technology

    Episode Info: Memphis, Hour 2 (#909)

    Originally Aired: February 28, 2005

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Automaton
    Material: Wood, Metal, Brass
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $3,000 - $5,000

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    Appraisal Video: (2:49)


    Appraised By:

    Gary Piattoni
    Arms & Militaria, Science & Technology
    Gary Piattoni, Inc.

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: It belonged to my great-grandparents. When my grandfather immigrated here from Europe, he brought this with him, that he'd had on a sidewalk cafe. When my grandmother died, the music box somehow got out of the family, somebody bought it. My father wanted it back in the family, but at the time, he didn't have the money to repurchase it. Well, my other grandfather on my other side of the family, he paid $75 to buy it back, plus a dollar to haul it back home. And when I was 18, I helped an uncle paint his house and he paid me $75. Well, the first thing I did was went over and got it. It went to my father's house, and for my 25th birthday he gave it to me and my wife, so we've had it in our house for 20 years.

    APPRAISER: That's fantastic. So you gave it a prominent place in your house.

    GUEST: Oh, yes, it's definitely in a prominent place. Everybody thinks it's a grandfather clock.

    APPRAISER: Well... and we know it's a disk musical player. And sometimes called the Polyphone, based on one of the major makers in Europe. But this is a Regina, who were the major makers in the United States. This technology was invented right around 1886. This was like an upgrade of the technology of the earlier musical box that uses the brass cylinders. This was better for a lot of reasons. The disks that this plays were cheaper to make, therefore cheaper to buy. You could buy more of them and have more of them than you could the cylinders, and they're louder and less personal than the smaller music boxes. This is a commercial version of the box, because you can see it's coin operated. You mentioned that your relative might have owned a cafe, and this would have been in a cafe or a tavern or a bar, much like jukeboxes are used today. And you'd put your money in, you'd hear your song and it'd be loud enough that people could dance and play it and just enjoy it. This is a nice model and the values on things like this are really based on, literally, the whistles and bells that they have. Some of them actually had bells that went along with the tune. The value is also in the size of the disk as well as how many combs. This one has two combs; many of them only had one comb. You can see one on top and one on the bottom. The case is nice and you can see the great color of the case here and a little bit kind of showing through here. This is one example where you could actually conserve this and refinish it and kind of bring it back to life professionally and it would really pop and be a great piece. In terms of value, it's better than average. It's a nice commercial model, coin operated, nice tall case, American maker. You're probably talking, you know, at auction, somewhere in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. It's a fantastic piece. We'll get it going, okay?

    GUEST: Okay. (lush, tinkly music playing)

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