Empress 15.5" Concert Grand Music Box Restored
by Larry Wilson (020127 MMDigest)

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The day after Christmas I purchased an Empress 15-1/2" Concert Grand.  Apparently there are not many 15-1/2" Concert Grands as several music box experts were surprised that I had, in fact, a concert grand of this size.  The box is too small to have ever housed an 18" mechanism.

The box had been stripped of its original finish except for the inside of the lid and the two boards located on either side of the mechanism.  All hardware was missing as well as the feet.

Now, four weeks later, I have completed the restoration of the Empress Concert Grand.  It wasn't easy.  No wonder these things cost so much.  Finding suitable hardware for this restoration took the most time.  Hinges and lock proved a challenge since these pieces had to fit into places already established by the missing hardware.  I never did find a picture of what the feet would look like on this music box, so I used the bun feet from a 1924 RCA Radiola radio.

I am very proud of the finished product considering the condition this box was in when I found it.  Fortunately the mechanism was flawless and didn't require any work.  I am now working on the 13 discs, all of which have major rust problems.  Someone from Mechanical Music Digest sent me instructions on how to restore the discs.  I've even made stencils to repaint the titles on the very worse.

This was a very enjoyable project made possible by readers of MMD who gave me helpful information and places to go for additional help.  Many thanks.

Larry Wilson
27 Jan 2002 17:13:40 -0500

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27 January 2002