Polyphon Music Box, ca. 1900
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:26)
Science & Technology
Mechanical Music & Science and Technology
GUEST: I first ran across this music box at Lillian, Alabama. An antique dealer had this, and I wanted to buy it, but... couldn't afford it at that time. And eventually, the whole unit went to an auction in Pensacola, and I bought it at auction... in the year 2000. And, uh... I paid $10,000 for it. I don't know if I overbid or underbid. That's why I'm here.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, uh, do you know anything about its history?
GUEST: It's made by a company called Polyphon, and I believe they're from Germany.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, you're right, it is made by Polyphon. It's the Polyphon Musikwerke in Leipzig, Germany. It was made around the turn of the century-- so around 1890 to 1900. It has the original color in the case. It hasn't been... messed about with or stripped down. The mirror in the door is unusual with this painting, as well. You've also got the pediment. This is often missing. And the really nice thing about it is that it is coin-operated. You put a coin in...
APPRAISER: ... and you turn the handle and it plays. Let's look at the inside.
APPRAISER: You can take that. These disk musical boxes were developed really in response to the early market. Originally, you had cylinder music boxes, and the cylinders would play a set number of tunes, and that would usually be it. But with the disk boxes, you still have the... steel comb here, but you have the disks, and the projections on the back pluck the teeth, and in a way, it's like an early record player or a CD player. You could buy any number of disks with different tunes of the day,
APPRAISER: and have a library of music. Another thing to look at with the Polyphons is the steel comb. On this one, you have a double comb, which produces a loud resonance. And all the teeth on here are perfect. There aren't any broken teeth, and that's a good thing. The other nice thing to note is this early print in the door, which also suggests that this was maybe made for a hotel or would have stood in a pub or a saloon. And it was originally for the English market, operating on old pennies. Because it's a coin-operated piece, because the condition's good, because it's a middle size, produced by Polyphon, you paid around the right price. Now, at auction, you'd be looking at between $8,000 and $12,000. So you paid a fair price.
GUEST: That's good. It makes my wife feel a lot better, because she thinks I overpaid. But sometimes you see something you just like, you want, and you just have to have it.
APPRAISER: I think we should see how it sounds. (coin drops) (playing melody) Isn't that beautiful?
GUEST: It's beautiful. (music continues)
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