Photoplayers (part 1) - Monday, November 30, 2015

The American Treasure Tour is an incredible destination, with (quite literally) thousands of items on display guaranteed to pique the interest of all who visit; however, it is also very much a work in progress.  We hope those who have already been here agree that we have a wonderful collection, and that our tours provide a fun and engaging experience.  But that does not mean our collection does not continue to grow.  

We are currently putting the finishing touches on a new display in our Music Room we are calling the Omrod Collection - we will dedicate plenty of blog time to it soon enough - and there are a number of other 'works in progress', too.  Some we are holding off on discussing right now, but others have already involved the investment of many man hours to get them ready.  Including a photoplayer produced by the Robert Morton Organ Company.  We are still investigating the year our specific machine was produced, but we know that photoplayers were only made for around eleven years, from about 1916 to 1927.  So that narrows it down quite a bit.

Robert Morton was a division of the American Fotoplayer Company out of Berkeley, California, that was founded in 1917 in Va---but wait, we really haven't discussed what photoplayers are yet, have we?  For the few of you who have not yet experienced our Seeburg, on display in the Music Room, photoplayers are a product of the silent film era.  When movies were brand new, the only way to see them was to go into small, darkened rooms that may have had a sheet hanging from a wall and a few chairs placed in front of it.  With any luck, there was a pianist there to play during the film.  These were actually called nickelodeons, a far cry from the automatic music machines we play for you! As business owners realized movies could become an actual money maker, they might have invested in player pianos or hired small bands to play.  Soon enough, they wanted to provide a grander experiences in the hope to draw larger crowds, and companies like Wurlitzer, Seeburg, and Robert Morton wanted to provide that experience for them.

Some theater owners built what were called pit organs into their facilities - they had an organ similar to what you might expect to find in a church located between the screen and the audience, and pipes were built into the walls around the screen.  These could create an incredibly bold sound, but there were disadvantages to the pit organ, such as the necessity for a trained organist to play them, and they could be prohibitively expensive.  The  photoplayer became a viable option.  Self-contained and potentially much smaller than the pit organ, the photoplayer could be played by a novice musician or someone with great skill to similar affect.  Stay tuned tomorrow for information on some of the photoplayers here at the American Treasure Tour! 
QUESTION:  Which brand and style of photoplayer is on display at the American Treasure Tour, complemented by the compelling 1913 action film Barney Oldfield's Race to Save a Life?
A)  Robert Morton Style R
B)  American Fotoplayer Company Style R
C)  Wurlitzer Style R
D)  Seeburg Style R

There are officially only thirty-one days left in 2015.  How time flies!
THRILLER!!! Speaking of time flying, it's difficult to believe that Michael Jackson's second album was released on this day thirty-three years ago.  It would go on to become the biggest-selling record in music history, and shape a new way people could enjoy music:  with videos.  

AND TODAY'S BIRTHDAY WISH GOES TO....  David Mamet!  Turning 68 today, the film director, playwright, screenwriter, and essayist has been highly accomplished in all these fields, notably with such hits as House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, and Glengarry Glen Ross (do NOT take your young ones to see this in the theater or share the movie with them!  There is more vulgar language in this than you could ever believe!).  Challenging, often very clever, and certainly controversial, let's hope Mr. Mamet has many more projects in his future!

QUOTE:  It's only words ... unless they're true.  - David Mamet

ANSWER:  D)  Seeburg Style R.