Mechanical Bank Notes — April 1, 2011 at 12:02 am

Musical Savings Bank

BY SY SCHRECKINGER

OVER THE CENTURIES, both young and old alike have enjoyed lilting melodies emanating from ingenious automated musical apparatus. Unfortunately, earliest examples were extremely expensive to produce and their sales limited to only the wealthy.

These instruments were constructed utilizing either circular metal perforated disks or small articulated hammers and bells. It was not until the early twentieth century, and thanks to Charles and Alice Reuge of Sainte-Croix, Switzerland, that a moderately priced, miniaturized pin-drum and comb musical movement was employed within the music box. This ingenious development resulted in the creation of an automated musical commodity now affordable by the masses.

The compact, easily installed Reuge musical movements eventually led to the production of a plethora of novelty items and toys. Beautifully crafted and bejeweled music boxes were a desirable gift from an ardent suitor to his beloved. Young girls stored trinkets in small Reuge boxes, some incorporating a figure of a ballerina pirouetting or performing a plié to a classical melody. Infants were lulled to sleep as their music boxes played Brahm’s Lullaby. Children were delighted and entertained by their musical toys and mechanical banks.

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