[ Thanks to Joyce Brite for her additional research and editing
[ assistance with this interesting article. -- Robbie
My wife Linda and I just returned Sunday from a great weekend in the
We were invited by John Johnson, current President of MAPS (Michigan
Antique Phonograph Society) and Ken Stokes, Secretary, to go to the
24th Annual Phonograph and Music Box Show and Sale at Union, Illinois,
and then to their meeting held at the Victorian Palace. [Visits to the
Victorian Palace are by invitation only. It is not open to the public
at this time]. I used to have a small collection of phonographs, and
was a member of MAPS in the early-to-mid 80's. John is the man that
got me interested in all things related to mechanical musical machines.
Someone else will have to comment on the quality of the Union sale
since this was my first time there. I was overwhelmed! So many rare
and interesting things, it's hard to describe them all! Some of the
items offered that may be of interest to this group:
Coinola Midget, with mandolin rail $6500 unrestored. The owner had
many other items at his home, including a Link Orchestrion with
flute pipes, the 7 ft. model, unrestored for $15,000. I have his
business card if anyone is interested.
Seeburg Trash Can jukebox, which is in working condition, for $700.
I wanted to take it home, but alas no room.
Of the many wonderful music boxes available, one in particular stuck
in my mind. It played two discs which gave it a stereo effect, as
the owner explained. I was wondering if it would be more like a
Deagan chimes, the type that was played from the back of a
model T Ford, $3,500.
National(?) Ferris wheel roll changer, $300.
I bought a Play-Rite O roll NOS for $30. I then saw the notes on how
some had glued flanges. Thankfully, mine wasn't one of them.
[ See John Rutoskey's article on glued flanges in MMD 99.06.10
[ -- Robbie
I also bought a copy of the "Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical
Instruments." It was a great show.
Now on to the best part: The Victorian Palace!! My wife's reaction
hit the nail on the head when we drove up the drive way: "WOW!" If you
can get there, get there! I thought I had seen some wonderful things
before, but nothing prepares you for it. I'd even seen two amateur
videos [of the Palace previously], and was still overwhelmed.
Everyone seems to walk around with a big grin and big eyes. MAPS had
their business meeting, which was kept short by popular demand, so that
we could hear the organ which is awesome. We were allowed to go up
into the organ loft, which is four stories high, while it was playing.
Some pipes are 32 ft. high! There are various doorways leading to each
of the different lofts. One member was leaning against the wall, which
was vibrating, with a dreamy look on his face and I asked him if he was
enjoying himself. He said that this was his favorite place on earth,
and that he was a repeat visitor.
We then moved to the Orchestrion Room. It was a great experience for
me as I'm gathering parts to build one. We heard a Hupfeld Phonoliszt-
Violina model B(?). This machine has to be experienced in person in
order to appreciate it fully. There were also too many other machines
to describe here.
We then moved from the main house, all 44,000 sq. ft. of it, to the
barn. We were able to see the Eden Palace, the Sanfilippo's carousel,
with its 89-note Gavioli organ. We weren't able to ride it, but we
sure enjoyed watching. In this building there are many band organs.
One that I particularly liked had gold covered columns which revolved,
making an optical illusion effect that I hadn't seen before. I liked
the Wurlitzer best. Could someone please let me know for sure which it
was a 163, 164, or the 168? Whichever it was, with all those brass
horns, it sounded great!
By the way, Mr. Sanfilippo also has one of the best collections of
phonographs too. Many of them I had not seen anywhere else. I think
you can tell by this letter where my main interest lies.
Also, I like to make a plug for MAPS, if it's allowed. They are a
great group with very knowledgeable members from all over the world,
and many different chapters. Their web site is
I purchased the booklet, "The Victorian Palace." The money goes
to charity. [I saw that in the MMD Archives, under "S", there is
information on purchasing this booklet. -- Joyce] They also have
CD's of the organ. I saw that many of the names listed as restoration
specialists in the booklet are MMD members. It would be great to hear
some stories of these restorers' experiences, if possible.
As this is getting plenty long, I'll close. Thanks to the staff and
especially the owners of The Victorian Palace, the Sanfilippos.