“There are a couple of different ways that a music box plays its whimsical chimes. The usual way is a cylinder roll that works very similarly to a wind-up clock. But if you flatten that cylinder out, and make the rolls look like little record albums, then you have disc music boxes. The first disc music boxes were considered adult toys, but you can now find them in many toy stores for toddlers.
One of the most prestigious brands that can make music box collectors droll is Regina. They perfected the art of disc music boxes in their New Jersey factory at the turn of the twentieth century. Due to economic pressures and the invention of the phonograph, Regina had to stop making disc music boxes around 1920. Their sound is considered the best of all music boxes. Some looked like piano music boxes. They now cost thousands of dollars.
Fisher-Price Record Player
At the other end of the disc music boxes collection scale is a very popular toy introduced in 1971 by Fisher-Price. The Fisher-Price Record Player has come out in a variety of styles and sizes over the years, but basically they are all disc music boxes. This writer happened to grow up with one of the 1971 model, called officially #995 Music Box Record Player. I wish I had kept it. It would now be worth about $500.
This was an amazing toy that kept me enchanted in sporadic bursts for years. You just wound up the record player, selected a disc (smaller than a 45rpm record) and moved the arm and needle over the record. The little plastic disc had raised bumps on them to correspond to different tunes. The record “”needle”” was a series of trip hammers. I had the toy for nearly fifteen years and when it finally went out on the inevitable yard sale table, it was still working.
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if I someday discovered that my old toy did indeed still work after thirty-five years. There are many disc music boxes that still play just fine, from the coveted and incredibly expensive Reginas to the smaller and slightly more affordable Fisher-Prices.
Regina and Fisher-Price were not the only makers of disc music boxes. Other brands include Adler, Empress, Kalliope, Mira, Olympia and Polyphon (which was the apparent company of Regina). Some of these are very small and some are as large as living room cabinets or gun lockers.”