The Sextrola Model B machine was manufactured by the North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works, located in the town of North Tonawanda, New York. The company had been purchased by the Rand Company after World War I, who also created the Capitol Company as a subsidiary. (And you thought the automatic music business provided little corporate drama!) When Capitol took over, they changed the name of the Sextrola to the “Capitol Bluebird Orchestra.” The machine on display at the American Treasure Tour is a Style B, and requires special Sextrola endless rolls to operate.
It received its unusual name because of the six primary instruments built into it, including: a
piano with 44 notes with loud and soft pedal and a mandolin attachment, a 44 cremona-toned pipes representing first violin, second violin, viola, and cello. There are also orchestra bells and a ‘swell box’ in the rear to that adds expression to the music.
This was part of Paul Eakins’ collection at the Gay 90’s Museum in St. Louis, MO. His grandson, Chris Carlisle, who produces the compact discs we sell in our gift shop, claims this is likely the only remaining Model B Sextrola in existence. The Pianolin was the biggest-selling automatic music machine ever produced by NTMIW, the Sextrola being an expanded version of the Pianolin with a set of bells added and a larger case.
The case is an arts-and-crafts design – high-quality oak, satin finish and three fine colored art-glass panels that light up from the inside.