Symphonion Eroica music box, 72" x 28", style No. 37, featuring duplex combs with 100 teeth. Having its original door picture, it was in wonderful condition. Included with the lot was a walnut cabinet with shelves to store the accompanying 32 three-disc sets. Top lot of the three-day sale, it brought $44,000. Somewhat of a mechanical marvel, it played three 13 5/8" discs simultaneously.
A work of art for the eyes as well as pleasant to the ears, the Regina Corona style 35 was considered very rare in this form. The second-highest lot at $43,450, this one featured a 15½" changer inside a cabinet that had a wonderful curved stained-glass door that features a crown and a harp. This machine drew a lot of attention. It is pictured in Bowers’s book on page 194.
A Regina model ten music box, with a base cabinet underneath with two doors concealing the pullout shelves, peaked at $4730. It plays 15½" discs and came with 40.
A circa 1975 band organ, made by the Johnson Organ Co., sold for $8800. At 5’2" high x 6’6" long, it featured 100 pipes, 15 violins, 13 brass trumpets, 13 brass piccolos, 5 trombones, 13 stopped pipes, and other accompaniments.
Stanton’s Auctioneers, Charlotte, Michigan
Photos courtesy Stanton’s
Stanton’s Auctioneers has two to four specialty phonograph auctions per year. The firm’s annual fall Music Machine auction was held on November 15-17, 2012, in Charlotte, Michigan. The sale included more than just phonographs. There were automatons, player pianos, radios, music boxes, jukeboxes, and watches, as well as other go-along items such as advertising, records, player piano rolls, and sheet music. What phonograph auction would be complete without a few Nippers in the mix?
Auctioneer Steven Stanton has been doing the specialty phonograph auctions for 32 years and has built a following, drawing bidders from across the nation and around the world. At the sale, I had the opportunity to speak with a gentleman from Beijing, and one man, according to Stanton, drove three days from Alberta, Canada.
During the three-day event there were over 1200 lots auctioned, only a few with reserves, which meant little as there was a 100% sell-through rate. Sales totaled over $800,000 (including the buyers’ premiums). The free catalog featured many of the lots offered at the sale. The lot numbers were followed by letters that designated the consignor. Prominent collections and estates made up the sale, including the Kenneth Powers estate (Nancy Powers, owner), which brought a rare Symphonion Eroica to the market.
The Eroica rang in as the top-selling lot of the sale at $44,000 (includes buyer’s premium). This desirable circa 1895 machine went to a southern bidder on the floor. “The unit plays three discs simultaneously,” noted Stanton. Thirty-two three-disc sets accompanied the lot. The Eroica machine is pictured in Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by Q. David Bowers, published in 1972 and considered the bible for collectors of automatic music machines.
Another desirable machine pictured in that Bowers book is the Regina Corona music box. One of these music boxes became the second-highest-selling lot of the sale at $43,450. It went to another southern bidder, this time over the phone. Its dark-stained case featured a leaded glass door, cabriole legs, barley twist columns, and the original matching clock mounted in the carved crest. Another Regina Corona model 35 with a 15½" disc player sold on day two of the auction and made $12,100. The desirable features of clock and leaded glass door had pushed the price much higher on the first Regina model 35 offered during the sale.
One of the most notably short-lived Vogue records came up for bidding at this auction. This particular top-end record had “The Lion’s Roar” on one side and “Thinking of You” on the other. Being on the buy list of many, it brought $6600 after some aggressive bidding on the floor. There are many variations of these early Vogues, and the flip-side songs do not always match. A few years earlier another example of this record brought $5000 at Stanton’s. According to Stanton, there is an even rarer Vogue, called “Queen for the Day,” which appears even less often. Interestingly, Vogue records were made with an aluminum core. Some modern CD manufacturers also have an aluminum layer in their products, formed in the fabrication process; what once was is now again.
Those who needed parts or accessories for their phonographs or music machines were not disappointed. There were plenty of lots of records of all types, needles, discs, and morning glory horns offered. The prices on the horns were mostly in the $100 to $400 range.
When speaking to a bidder about prices and where the market is, Stanton said that he believes prices have bottomed and are now on the upswing. As with the rest of the market of antiques, prices were strong for the top end and probably a little sluggish for the middle and low end for phonographs and music machines.
For more information, contact Stanton’s Auctioneers & Realtors at (517) 726-0181 or visit the Web site (www.stantons-auctions.com).
An American Regina with a mahogany case with dragons on the door that housed a 27" automatic changer. It was described as having the original back print and was said to play well. This lot attracted a lot of attention and sold for $12,100.
Not all the lots sold were of American origin. Some Swiss machines made appearances. One was a music box with beautifully decorative strikers in the forms of bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. Made in Geneva, Switzerland by G. Baker & Co., this lot featured brass mounts on the corners of its fine cabinet and a mirror inside the lid. It also featured a tune indicator and mandolin attachments. It had three other silver cylinders that sold with the machine. The cabinet was in need of refinishing. The four-section comb had all the teeth intact. It sold for $6050.
Originally published in the March 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest