The First, The Best: Regina Music Boxes
The Regina Music Box Company did not, by any means, create the first music box. In fact, the Regina company did not make their first music box until about a hundred years ago in Rahway, New Jersey. Many years before, music boxes originated in parts of Europe such as Germany, Switzerland, and Bavaria.
These tiny beauties of visual delight and mesmerizing music were sought after for at least 50 years prior to the advent of Regina music boxes. However, Regina holds the distinction of being the first music box company in America and, the majority of expert collectors believe, the finest in American music boxes. The sound quality of "Reginas," say collectors, "remains unsurpassed in America and elsewhere as the mechanism for the instrument differs from others of the period."
This distinction refers to the Regina music boxes that play interchangeable musical discs, not cylinders as was common during the 1800's. A technology way ahead of its time, this gave Reginas a sound quality that was without equal. The venerable European masters were put off that the upstart Americans had beaten them at their own craft! In 1894, the Regina Music Box Company acknowledged that their box is a mechanical device that utilizes circular metal plates with holes punched through the surface. This technique is similar to that used with player pianos, and even sounds like a forerunner of today's compact discs.
Memorable Regina Music Boxes
The word "regina" is Latin for "Queen." Coincidence? Hardly, say music box collectors. If that were the case, why weren't they simply named "Rahway Music Boxes" after the town of their birth? No, Regina music boxes are indeed the monarchs of music boxes – yesterday and today.
One of the original Regina designs was a Christmas music box featuring interchangeable discs of Christmas music and intricately carved ice-skaters that twirled in time to the music. At estate auctions or sometimes on E-Bay, you might discover an exceedingly rare Japanese Regina music box overlaid with Oriental lacquer and colorful floral patterns. Last year, a completely functional Regina music box with an Irish motif and a medley of Celtic tunes sold at an estate auction for $7,000 to a collector as a gift for his beloved but terminally ill wife. Urban legend has it that his wife had always longed for a Regina music box and she watched its glimmering roses and shamrocks, listening to the Irish love songs until the day of her death. The box has reportedly been returned to Ireland, the country of the buyer's wife's ancestors.
Even if this account is but whimsical fantasy, there is no doubt of the distinction of one Regina music box; the tallest, most intricate Regina ever made stands over seven feet tall! It now belongs to a collector and art historian and is in full working order. To complete the distinguished history of the Regina music box, a one-of-a-kind box displays a waving American flag, accompanied by "The Star Spangled Banner." A fitting tribute to the nation that treasures it.