Wednesdays here at the Treasure Tour blog are our excuse to call out a favorite piece in the collection just because it's a favorite. Today we dedicate to the Simplex Piano Player. And, of course, the letter M. Because it's a good letter. In the days before electricity was in the home of every American who wanted it (that means pretty much the first quarter of the twentieth century and earlier), people often entertained themselves with the 'new big thing.' We refer, of course, to pianos. Everyone was buying one. They would plop them in their living rooms, then make the kids learn how to play, or maybe get mom to take some lessons. (Rarely dad. Alas, sexism reared its ugly head.) Player pianos were introduced to the marketplace in the late-1870's, and they did okay sales, but not great. One likely reason for this was because people already had regular pianos and didn't want to drop a few hundred dollars on a replacement.
So, what did they do? They bought piano players, like the one Simplex produced in their Worcester, Massachusetts headquarters. This machine was essentially a player piano except it didn't have the inner workings of the piano. Rather, you pushed it up to the keyboard, pumped the treadles manually, with your feet, and let the music play. It played many of the same rolls you could enjoy on a player piano, but the piano player saved money! That's what is called a 'no brainer' in popular language.