QUESTION:  Which paper roll arranger that the American Treasure Tour honors began his career perforating on a  Leebarjan machine?
A)  "Row" Whitlock
B)  Cassius Coolidge
C)  Johannes Seeburg
D)  J. Lawrence Cook

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of pieces of automatic music machines here at the American Treasure Tour.  Machines produced by American companies including deKleist, Wurlitzer, Seeburg, Link, Coinola, North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works, Berrywood, and many, many more.  There are a number of foreign-made machines, too, including Arburo, Frer Decap and Mortier.  We are very proud of that, but recognize none of it would make much of a difference if there was no music to play on any of them.  In the days before MIDI, the only way to hear music on any of these machines was with paper rolls and cardboard books.  It took an expert to create these rolls, and they needed the proper tools to do it well.  One such piece was called the Leabarjan Perforator.

The Leabarjan was named after the three men who established the company to make them available to music lovers:  John LEAse was the man who actually invented the ingenious machine. Carl BARtels was pivotal in the development of the company, but it never would have happened without the financial backing of a man named JANzen. They opened their doors in 1911, and produced the machines until 1928.  When they closed their doors, they blamed the increased popularity of the phonograph.  Sadly, none of the investors were ever able to claim even a single cent in dividends from their invention.  Almost as sad, the American Treasure Tour currently does not have a Leabarjan Perforator in our collection. They are a highly coveted piece, and we would certainly be interested in knowing if you happen to have an extra one lying around....

ANSWER:  D)  J. Lawrence Cook

J.P. Seeburg, part two

QUESTION:  Which of the following companies was not in competition with J.P. Seeburg for jukebox production?
A)  Seeburg
B)  Wurlitzer
C)  Rock-Ola
D)  AMI/Rowe

Yesterday, we told the story of how the J.P. Seeburg Company became the greatest producer of coin-operated pianos and orchestrions (nickelodeons) in the United States during the 1920's. There were a number of reasons why business started going south towards the end of the decade - competition with radio being the biggest.  In 1927, production was completely shut down on orchestrions, despite the fact that the same year over one million paper rolls sold, the largest number in any one year ever.  Seeburg began to concentrate on what he called coin-operated phonographs.  The "Audiophone" was one of his first multi-selection jukeboxes, which came out the next year.  Then, in the early-1930's, J.P. retired from direct involvement in the business and left it to his son Noel.  Noel devoted his attention to jukebox production and made some innovations that blew away the competition.

In 1949, Seeburg developed the first device that allowed a jukebox to play both sides of a record.  Not only could it hold fifty 78 rpm records, but it could play both sides - allowing people to select between one hundred songs!  Seeburg almost caused all of their competitors to go out of business with this. Then, they took it to the next level the very next year by introducing machines that played 45 rpm records - the first company to do so.  45's had a better sound than 78's and were much smaller. They assured their dominance of the market when, in 1955, they came out with the V-200, which offered two hundred selections.  Over the years, though, jukebox sales fluctuated.  Seeburg tried to roll with the punches, offering innovations and retaining their dominance in the industry.  But, by 1980, they had to close their doors. Their name has appeared on CD jukeboxes and other mechanisms since then, but Seeburg's golden age is no more than a memory, to be celebrated by lovers of technology. Their machines are famously beautiful and a compliment to any collection.

ANSWER:  A)  Seeburg, of course.  

J.P. Seeburg

QUESTION:  The Seeburg Symphonola Model 148 Jukebox was more popularly called what?
A)  The Bubblemaker
B)  Timmy
C)  The Trashcan
D)  The Dancer

The American Treasure Tour is a wonderful place. Not only is there plenty to see and hear here, but our collective culture dominates everywhere you look. Some of the names that appear are still familiar today, even though the pioneers connected to them lived a long time ago. Today and tomorrow, the blog would like to honor a man whose creations changed how people listened to music throughout the twentieth century.  

Justus P. Seeburg was born in Gotthenburg, Sweden in 1871 and attended a manual training school there, which was located next to the Malinjos piano factory.  He developed a love for the piano and, when he emigrated to the United States in 1887, he settled in Chicago, where he pursued a career in piano construction. Within ten years, he moved to the Marquette Piano Company, makers of the "Cremona" pneumatic coin pianos better known as nickelodeons.  This is where Seeburg learned how to make these machines, which inspired him to establish the J.P. Seeburg Piano Company.  Between 1910 and 1920, the coin piano industry boomed, and Seeburg was riding the wave - moving to larger and larger facilities during the decade.  His great success can be accredited to a few reasons:  his machines were excellently constructed, they were durable, and they were beautiful. He reduced the price for manufacturing them by using standardized parts between the machines, which made repairing them easier, too.  Most significantly, though, he provided incentives to piano dealers to sell his machines. While other companies refused non-licensed store owners the right to sell their machines, Seeburg not only allowed anyone to sell them, but he was much more generous in sharing the profits with them. By the 1920's, Seeburg dominated the market and, in fact, designed what would become the best-selling nickelodeon of all time, the Seeburg L, or "Liliputian."  The small upright machine was a perfect compliment to tight quarters, such as speakeasies during Prohibition.  Stay tuned for more exciting information on Seeburg!

ANSWER:  C)  The Trashcan