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Twirling Ballerinas and Miniature Horses
By Julie Lain
Does the thought of a music box with the dancing ballerina bring back memories? As hard as it is to imagine, this was once a popular source of entertainment. Music boxes were first invented in the 1700s from “snuff boxes” (pocket-sized, ornamented boxes) and manufactured mostly in Switzerland with brands such as Reuge, Regina and Polyphon. They created disk and cylinder boxes powered by clockwork that contained sets of pins that strike “teeth” to produce the musical notes. Eventually, manufacturers added on more features such as small drums and bells. Today, vintage music boxes are still available in a variety of sizes, themes and designs and these steps will ensure you find the perfect music box for you (or a gift recipient).
1. Check out local pawn and antique shops. Seeing the music boxes in person allows you to test their sound quality and observe their condition before purchasing. Plus, it’ll save you some cash on shipping/handling if you happen to find what you’re looking for.
2. If that doesn’t work, shop online. Several websites such as Ebay, Ruby Lane, and especially Etsy have a variety of antique music boxes so you can find exactly what you have in mind. MusicBoxWorld.com even offers the option to customize your music box with a list of hundreds of songs to choose from!
3. Choose what type you want. Antique music boxes are available in wood, metal and porcelain and can double as many other different things such as jewelry boxes and snow globes, so it helps to decide what kind you want so you can be more specific when shopping online.
4. Decide on a price range. Music boxes can cost you as much as $30,000, so, especially if you’re on a tight budget, it makes online shopping easier if you narrow your search.
• Etsy.com is your best bet for finding a vintage music box online; they have over 4,000 of the items for sale. You can even search by color, price range, and purpose (candle holder, frame, etc.).
• Be careful not to damage your music box once you’ve purchased it; the mechanisms are fragile and finding a professional to repair it can be very difficult and expensive.
• Music boxes are a great gift idea for younger children; little girls especially love the “dancing ballerina” ones.