Among My Souvenirs

Stories of the road

The Music Box

There are many things to buy when you go to Switzerland but two of the most famous are cuckoo clocks and music boxes. Having grown up with a cuckoo clock, I wasn’t really sure I wanted another one. But I never had a music box. Thinking this would be a quick and easy purchase, a walked into the factory/store and watched the demonstration of how a music box was made. I was mesmerized. Who knew all this went into a tiny little box?

I didn’t want a fancy box for my special purchase, I was so intrigued by the comb and cylinder in action that I bought one that was beveled glass with a simple wood frame to house it. Now I can watch this tiny little box fill the room with its song. Even to this day it is endless fascinating to me as the pins, in what seem to be random order, pick out the tune on the bed of steel combs. My box plays Beethoven’s The Hymn of Joy, a favorite of husband Patrick and myself.

To Switzerland, we owe the music box. No one knows for certain who invented the first music box movement, but for the most part, it is believed that Louis Favre, a watchmaker from Geneva, was responsible for making the first unit in the eighteenth century. It was the Swiss who were responsible for making musical boxes a thriving industry in their land – an industry which today still ranks high among collectors.

Music boxes are fascinating, not only for the many and diverse “boxes” they are housed in but for the complex mechanical device that runs it, producing all sorts of songs and sounds. It is an automatic musical instrument in a box that produces musical notes by using a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc to pluck the tuned teeth of a steel comb.

No longer the treasure they once were, as they have gone the way of the gramophone, and records in general. But when you go to Switzerland plan to spend a few dollars and buy yourself a lasting treat, a Swiss made music box.