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Before there was vinyl: Jukebox from 1800s entertains guests at P.E.I. inn

Before the Juke Box, you had this.

Before there was vinyl: Jukebox from 1800s entertains guests at P.E.I. inn
A nickel plays one of the huge tin discs
By Pat Martel, CBC News Posted: Apr 04, 2017 6:00 AM AT Last Updated: Apr 04, 2017 6:00 AM AT

Try putting this antique music disc in your CD player

Try putting this antique music disc in your CD player 0:56

It's not your father's jukebox — or even your grandfather's jukebox.

The Regina Corona Music Box was more likely playing tunes dating back to your great-great-grandfather's day.

The Dundee Arms Inn and Restaurant in Charlottetown has had one of the music boxes in its lobby for the past two years.

"It was bought at an auction and taken here," said manager Pat Sands.

"The owner of the building thought it was a good place for it."

Dundee Arms manager Pat Sands says guests usually don't notice the music machine, until she plays one of the huge metal discs. (Pat Martel/CBC)

While Sands wouldn't say how much the owner paid for the music box, similar ones online sell for close to $25,000.

Tunes from the 90s — the 1890s
Most guests don't even notice the fine piece of antique furniture until Sands decides to pull out one of the giant tin discs.

"This one here is called The Blue Danube and apparently it was quite popular and it's dated 1893."

Regina Corona music boxes use a flat metal disc, ranging from 8 to 27 inches. The music boxes use a double set of tuned teeth. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The machine is easy to operate. Simply twist the dial for your favourite musical selection, drop in a coin, and wind the two cranks.

Entertainment for the crowds
Whenever Sands plays the music machine, it draws a little crowd.

"A lot of the guests want to hear it," she said.

The Dundee Arms Inn was built in 1903, around the same time the Regina music boxes were hot-selling items. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"They come in for lunch and dinner, and those who stay over, we always play it for them."

The music box only has one volume — and that's medium, but the sound fills the lobby, dining room and pub, and guests seem to like it.

"They're amazed actually, it sounds really good."

The Regina Corona music box sold for about $500 back in the late 1800s. These days, the same model in excellent condition might sell online for as much as $25,000. (Pat Martel/CBC)

A nickel for a tune
The Dundee Arms music box only has six discs — which came with it when it was purchased. The original machines came with 12 discs, and Sands hopes to buy more.

They run about $40 each.

The original Regina Corona music boxes included 12 discs, but the Dundee Arms player only has six. Discs can still be bought online for about $40. (Pat Martel/CBC)

It only costs a nickel to play a tune on the music machine, so it could be another century before the owner recoups the price of the music machine.
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