University Museums

Media File
Title: Symphonian Disc Box #252424
Name: Music box and disks
Date: 1895-1905
Medium: wood, metal, glass, paper
Country/Culture: German
Dimensions: 10 1/2 × 8 × 7 in. (26.7 × 20.3 × 17.8 cm)
Classification: Musical Instruments
Credit Line: Gift of Donald E. Larew to the Farm House Museum. In the Farm House Museum Collection, Farm House Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM2011.431
More Information
This Symphonion disk type music box is a second-generation example of the small to mid sized music boxes produced by Symphonion Musikwerks from 1895 to 1917. Symphonion Musikwerks was one of Germany’s largest manufacturers of disc music boxes and also sold automatic pianos and phonographs after the 1900s.

The box is operated by winding the removable crank along the right side of the case and pulling out the knob located on the left side of the case. This begins the center drive system that rotates the steel stamped disk. This is a simpler mechanism than the edge drive used in larger disk music boxes and requires fewer manufacturing steps. Once the disk is set and locked into place with the retaining rod it is ready for play.

The disk itself is an “in-house” Symphonion produced disk due to its unique projections. The projections turn sections of a star shaped wheel, which in turn pluck or strike the teeth of the music comb. This is what produces the actual sound. The No. 10 disk plays a very short piece of music, about 30 seconds, and is painted with “Annie Laurie ov Ch Grace”. The disk is numbered 7098, which means it was the 98th tune to be produced on Symphonions 7000 series disk.

The music box itself is of a dark hardwood, probably stained oak. Some of the higher-end European crafters boxes would have a mahogany veneer over oak.