Popular Music in 1926

1926 ... it was a very good year.
Did you know that in 1926 tbe QRS Piano Roll Company sold over TEN MILLION rolls?

Piano Rolls were big business and we have a wonderful collection of them at the American Treasure Tour!
You can see paper rolls, cardboard rolls, even a brass music roll.

But the best part is you can HEAR the beautiful music these piano rolls make! 
Make a reservation today!

Today's Treasure: Porcelain Dolls

Hundreds of porcelain dolls keep us company in the room that houses our nickelodeon collection. These finely crafted american treasures would delight collectors of all ages. 


A Calliope is an automatic music machine mostly made and used in America before the advent of electricity used to play recorded music. These steam powered machines originally played music through train whistles. 
A true American Treasure and we have one at our tour.
Calliopes could be extremely loud and made mainly for outdoor use.  Our tour is SO HUGE, we have
one INSIDE.  Come hear it play!

Today's Treasure: Clowns of All Kinds

We hope that you're not coulrophobic at the Americna Treasure Tour! We have clowns all around! Some of them are even automatons. Automata are self-operating machines, often utilizing clockwork mechanics to move without continuous human guidance. 1860 through 1910 is considered the "Golden Age of Automata."

Today's Treasure: Stained Glass Windows

Gorgeous stained glass windows decorate the room housing our collection of nickelodeons. Enjoy the colorful artistry of these windows while you listen the playful music of our mechanical music machines!


Today's Treasure: Circus Sideshow Paintings

Inspired by vintage advertisements for circus side-show acts, Pennsylvania artist Joan Fay painted nearly 100 original canvas paintings in the manner of circus advertisements from the early19th century. 
 Some of the acts from circus of a bygone era were of talented performers who trained themselves to do things like breathe fire (see below) while others were the result of imagination and inventive costuming like the above act for a half man, half alligator....yikes!

Today's Treasure: Captain Morgan

This larger than life Captain Morgan once stood as a liquor store advertisement for the rum brand named after Sir Henry Morgan, a successful privateer and pirate of the17th century. Now he stands like a ring leader near our circus collection. We figured he would be tough enough to handle the circus tigers and bears.  

Real American Treasure: Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin (1867-1917) traveled and played with a number of musical groups in the 1890's. Around the turn of the century, he composed the "Maple Leaf Rag." He later worked on a ballet, and by 1902, the style of his compositions was officially dubbed, "Ragtime." 

Perhaps his most famous tune was "The Entertainer." Joplin's music was recorded for the phonograph and often made into rolls for nickelodeons like the ones you can hear at The American Treasure Tour.

Thanks to http://www.usa-hero.com for lots of great information on US Heros!

Today's Treasure: Classic Cars

The classic car collection at the American Treasure Tour is an exceptional collection of vehicles from the dawn of the automobile industry into the nostalgic styles of 1950's automobiles.

Influential American: P.T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum is best known for his part in Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. 
An entreprenuer from the start, Barnum owned a newspaper in his Connecticut hometown before moving to New York where he quickly founded "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater." He purchased a museum which he used as a platform for performances from his variety act and for other human curiosities and oddities. Eventually, his museum housed America's first aquarium. 

       While ever adding to his list of attractions and oddities, Barnum was also a very productive politician, serving two terms in the Connecticut legislature, and eventually becoming mayor of Bridgeport, CT. 

      Barnum did not enter the travelling circus business until he was in his sixties. He started "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," a traveling circus, menagerie and museum. He later partnered with Bailey, creating Barnum and Bailey's "Greatest Show on Earth." 

    At the American Treasure Tour there is a wonderland of circus memorabilia, artifacts from the circus and vintage advertisements from the show's heyday. 

Band Organ

The delightful sounds of a Wurlitzer Band Organ you can hear many times over at the American Treasure Tour....

American Treasure: Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann was a New Yorker, a writer, reporter and political commentator in the early to mid 20th century. He pointed out inaccuracies in the news reporting and spoke out against censorship. Lippmann's articles and books often touched on tensions of modern America, between politics, liberty, and news.

Lippmann was the first to use the term "Cold War," and later coined the word "stereotype" as it is used today. His Catchphrase "Manufacture of Consent." has been used over again in literary works by great thinkers of the next generation. He published several books in addition to writing his syndicated newspaper column, "Today and Tomorrow," for which he was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1958 and 1962). 

Today's Treasure: The Simpsons

The Simpsons show holds the title of the longest running American animated program, and the longest running sitcom on television. Even though we are still used to seeing the iconic family on TV, the oldest episodes are nearing the age of vintage, possibly even "classic" TV. 
A Simpsons trivia question: Where does Marge hide the Christmas money? 
*scroll to the end of the post for the answer*
This likeness of the Simpson family larger than life: notice the convertible top of one of our classic cars in the background to get an idea of just how big they are. Come by the American Treasure Tour to visit them in person!

Marge hides Christmas money In Her Hair

Americna Treasure: Frederick Douglass

Great American Orator Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Talbot county Maryland circa 1818. After a handful of unsuccessful attempts to escape from slavery, Douglass succeeded on Sept. 3, 1838. He had met and fallen in love with a free African American woman in Baltimore who helped him get identification and a sailor's uniform. He boarded a train for Havre De Grace, MD. as a free sailor, and continued on to a safe house in New York run by David Ruggles

Douglass married the woman who aided his escape, and they participated in the abolitionist movement together. Douglass spoke at meeting halls across the Eastern and Mid-west states. His speeches were powerful, and he was frequently accosted by those who were opposed to his passion for freedom.

The achievements of this man are too many to number, he joined the fight for women's suffrage as well. He wrote autobiographies about his life in slavery and subsequent escape. He became the most famous black man in America before the civil war and conferred with Presidents Lincoln and Johnson on the topic of African American suffrage.

Later in life, Douglass was appointed United States Marshall. At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Douglass became the first African American to receive a vote for President of the United States in a major party's roll call vote

What an amazing American! 

Today's Treasure; Circus Posters

These treasures are canvas paintings depicting actual circus posters of the early 20th century. 
 The advertisements often bragged of freaky sideshow acts like these. 
Pennsylvania artist Joan Fay created these one of a kind paintings for the American Treasure Tour

Real American Treasure: Washington Irving

Washington Irving was born in 1783 in New York City. He was an author, biographer, essayist and editor. After his initial works, written under different pseudonyms like Jonathan Oldstyle and Diedrich Knickerbocker, Irving became editor of Analectic Magazine, and became one of the first editors to publish Francis Scott Key's poem "Defense of Fort McHenry," later dubbed, "The Star Spangled Banner."

Irving is best known for his short stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,"  and "Rip Van Winkle."
Legendary Characters like these are a great part of the American Story that we love to share at the American Treasure Tour

Today's Treasure; Music Box Roll

Take a look inside some of our antique music boxes. 
make sure to look very close at the little things when you visit the American Treasure Tour

Notice the tiny bronze men sitting in the box to "play the music"
for more information about antique music boxes, see the Music Box Society International 

American Treasure: John Wayne

photo courtesy of JohnWayne.com

John Wayne's birth name was Marion Michael Morrison. His family moved to southern California when he was just a kid. He was a good student and very athletic, attending college at the University of Southern California. A body surfing accident cut short his promising athletic career, so he turned to some work in the Hollywood studios to pay the bills. 

After his first movie, "The Big Trail," Morrison was known as John Wayne, and continued to act in more than 175 movies. He won an Oscar in 1979 for his performance in "True Grit." 

Bravo, John Wayne.

Today's Treasure: The Coyote Needs Help!

The American Treasure Tour features dozens of canvas paintings by Pennsylvania artist Joan Fay like the one pictured here:
She has put to canvas so many American memories! Our halls are lined with her circus paintings, looney toons, movie characters and various americana.