This Polyphon Disc Type Music Box is an odd piece to those that have never seen one, looking for all the world like a “Steam Punk” record player. These disc type music boxes first began to appeared in the 1880s. Unlike the cylinder players which used cumbersome and hard to store metal cylinder to pluck the musical comb, a thin metal disc was used, this allowed multiple tunes to be played on the same machine, in some cases the machines had self changing mechanisms that could play multiple discs, one after another. The disc players were made for a relatively short time and most companies that produced them faced tough economic times when Edison’s phonograph was perfected.
The largest maker of the disc machines was Polyphon, which made 100,000’s of these machines during the glory years of the Disc player, 1895-1905. At its peak the firm employed more than 1,000 people, they diversified in later years, the company selling mechanical pianos, pneumatically-played pianos, phonographs and other items.
Today the smaller Polyphon players in need of some minor restoration with a selection of usable discs often sell in the $800-$1,000 range at auction.These were made in a wide variety of sizes, from small tabletop machines such as the one at the top of the page, with discs less than 10 inches in diameter, to large free-standing units with 33-inch discs.
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers