Tunes on Tuesday

The Treasure Tour is chock full of tunes - paper rolls, sheet music, record albums, 8-track cassettes - you name it, we have something about it.  One thing all of these different forms of recording music reminds us of is just how things change over time.  Technology has evolved so dramatically that we no longer need to store our music in big paper rolls.  Now, we don't really need any kind of individual storage devices, because we can keep it in invisible "clouds" in the ether (which, of course, go back to giant facilities somewhere out of sight to most of us). Digital technology is nice and everything, but it means you don't really have anything to hold.

Record Wall.JPG

A record album is tangible - the average 33-1/3 r.p.m. album is 11-23/32", almost a foot!  Not only does that fill your hands, but it comes with often impressive artwork (equally often, cheesy and forced poses by members of the band that recorded the music). Even audiocassettes are about four inches long, two-and-a-half inches high.  Not quite as dramatic as a record, but still something. Digital music might be stored in a flash drive shaped like your favorite cartoon character (Minions are pretty cool). Anyway, we love music in all its forms, and invite you to come experience ours, in all its shapes and formats.


So. We have a serious question for you.  Do you like music?  

To be honest, if you don't enjoy a good song now and again, regardless of what genre it is, we might not know how to take it if you said, simply, "No."  Music is an integral part of being human, and we are glad we can share all sorts of music with guests here at the American Treasure Tour. Of course, our music tends to fall into two categories:  fun and awesome. Okay fine. We don't have any Jay-Z or Justin Bieber - the Double J, as we like to think of them - but we do have an amazing collection of sass, ragtime, classical, bluegrass and even Broadway musicals. 

The clip attached here is of The Emperor. The Emperor is in our collection, BUT this video predates us. This actually comes from the 1960's, when the machine was recorded for a Coca-Cola advertisement.

It looks a little sad and lonely in the video - but just come to the American Treasure Tour to see it in its full glory, surrounded by its new, weird family!



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

Leo Sayer "Endless Flight"

QUESTION:  The Muppet Show originally broadcast from 1976 through 1981 in syndication.  Which actor was  the special guest star in its last episode?
A)  Leo Sayer
B)  Roger Moore
C)  Steve Martin
D)  Linda Ronstadt

One of the favorite topics the American Treasure Tour blog consistently returns to is the wall of records in the Music Room. We love discussing the men and women who have recorded their songs in the hope either of becoming the next big musician or confirming their spot on the charts. Over the years, we have featured performers in numerous genres. Today, we are going to talk a little bit about one of the most accomplished singers of the '70's who is actually still performing to this day.  His name is Leo Sayer.  Born in England in 1948, Sayer started work as a hall porter in a hotel, where he got caught in a serious fire. Upon his recovery, he focused on music.  His manager was former pop singer turned manager Adam Faith, who led him to great success in the 1970's. Hands down, Sayers' most famous album is 1976's multi-platinum selling Endless Flight, which includes two of his biggest hits of the disco era: "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" and "When I Need You."  He was so popular that he made an appearance on The Muppet Show!

Despite a success stretching decades, Sayer's career has had its challenges.  He sued both his manager, Adam Faith, and his label, Chrysalis, for mishandling his affairs. In the late-90's, he was compelled to tour in the effort to restore his finances. Fortunately, his fans came out in huge numbers.  Concert and album sales put him back on secure ground. A citizen of Australia now, Sayer continues to perform and record new music.

ANSWER:  B)  Roger Moore, best known as James Bond during the '70's and much of the '80's

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.