Automatic String Instruments

Coin operated orchestrion “Schell Music”

    Coin operated orchestrion “Schell Music”

    USA, Jefferson City, Montana

    Circa 1920

    Schell Music Co.

    Wood, metal, glass, leather; mechanical and carpentry works, stained enamel, glazing, casting

    157 x 71 x 134 cm, 350 kg

    Marks: on the cast-iron frame decalcomania “Shell Music Co./JEFFERSON CITY.MO.”, “FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF MUSIC 223411 / NATIONAL PIANO MANUFACTURERSASS”, cast: “BELL METAL NEW IMPROVED SCALE”, “147756”, on the wooden parts of the case: “4775”


    Orchestrion is made as a combined automatic piano-based musical instrument, complemented by tambourine, musical triangle, cymbal and wooden block.  The instrument is mounted in vertical wooden lacquered case. Two piano pedals are set in the plinth center. Open keyboard without lid has a range of eighty-eight tones. The upper front panel is a stained-glass panel made of transparent and painted with enamel glass in lead alloy binding. The stained- glass panel illuminated by three electric lamps mounted on the top lid internal side. The coin slot with metal onlay is on the front panel right side. Transparent glass window in thin lead binding, which closes the tape driving mechanism with two electric motors, is mounted on the front panel bottom center. Compartment with two toggle switches for activating the tape driving mechanism, compressor creating air rarefaction in the system and backlight bulbs is in the key bottom support bottom. The instrument can be utilized as an ordinary piano. In automatic operating mode, the orchestrion plays music encoded on paper music rolls; all instruments of the orchestrion play simultaneously.
    Music media: paper music roll.