Minutes from Columbus. Miles from the Ordinary.

Union County, Ohio

Music Machine Trail

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Pop a nickel in one of these historic music machines then watch and listen to it play a variety of instruments; piano, xylophone, banjo, percussion and more! David Ramey and Brad McClincy have generously shared their private collection of music machines with 13 Uptown Businesses. Pick up a trail map and see them all for yourself.

 

Don't dilly dally! Only on display June - August.

5th Street Café

Machine: Seeburg K

Instruments: piano with violin pipes

Made in Chicago in 1921

Store Hours

Monday closed

Tuesday Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Goodies Galore

Machine: Ramey Encore Banjo

Instruments: banjo

Made in Marysville in 2015

Store Hours

Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Sunday closed

 

Kendall & Blue

Machine: Seeburg K

Instruments: piano with flute pipes

Made in Chicago in 1917

Store Hours

Sunday and Monday closed

Tuesday - Friday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

 

Marysville Art League

Machine: Link C

Instruments: piano with flute pipes

Made in Binghamton, NY in 1917

Store Hours

Sunday and Monday closed

Tuesday  9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. & 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. 

Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  

 

Plumm Home - On display July 13 - August 17

Machine: Nelson-Wiggen Style 8

Instruments: piano with xylophone

Made in Chicago in 1928

Store Hours

Sunday -  Tuesday - closed

Wednesday and Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Friday 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The Ribbon Box

Machine: Seeburg KT

Instruments: piano with violin pipes & percussion

Made in Chicago in 1923

Store Hours

Sunday and Monday - closed

Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

 

Scotts - On display July & August

Machine: Western Electric Selectra B

(Brad McClincy collection)
Instruments; piano with xylophone

Made in Chicago in 1927

Store Hours

Sunday closed

Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Soda Pharm

Machine: Seeburg E

Instruments: piano with xylophone

Made in Chicago in 1912

Store Hours

Monday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

 

Uptown Antiques

Machine: Ramey Banjo-Orchestra

Instruments: piano with banjo & percussion

Made in Chicago in 1994

Store Hours

Sunday - Tuesday closed

Wednesday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Friday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

 

Ville Grille

Machine: Seeburg KT

Instruments: piano with xylophone & percussion

Made in Chicago in 1924

Store Hours

Monday and Tuesday 11:00 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Wednesday - Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Sunday closed

 

Worth Repeating

Machine: Seeburg K

Instruments: piano with xylophone

Made in Chicago in 1925

Store Hours

Monday - Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Friday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Sunday closed

Union Station

Machine: Link 2E

Instruments: piano with xylophone

Made in Bighamton, NY in 1924

Store Hours

Sunday and Monday - closed

Tuesday - Friday 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Bonus Stop

Union County Historical Society

Limited hours

Admission encouraged but not required
Wednesday 12:30 - 3:30

1st and 3rd Sunday 1:00 - 4:00

Machine: Coinola Midget O

Instruments: piano with xylophone & percussion Made in Chicago in 1916

Bi-Weekly Music Themes

June 9 – 22, Ragtime; Come hear America’s first pop music featuring the syncopated rhythms that led to early Jazz.

June 23 – July 6, Patriotic Music; March right in and celebrate America’s birthday with music. 

July 7 – 20, Christmas in July; Ho, ho ho! Take a break from the summertime heat with some frosty wintertime fun. 

July 21 – August 3, Piano Roll Blues; Listen to the paper recordings of the great early blues pianists.   

August 4 – 17, Around the World in Music; Featuring music made for the great melting pot of America.

August 18 – 31, ‘20s Dance Music; Come fox-trot your cares away to the soundtrack of the Roarin’ ‘20s.

D.C. Ramey Piano Company

Marysville, OH

Since 1955, Dave Ramey Sr. set the standard of excellence in automatic musical instrument restoration. He received his education and training while maintaining the nickelodeon collection at Svoboda's Nickelodeon Tavern and Museum (Chicago Heights) during the 1960s.

Dave has trained some of today's most skilled craftsman in the art of mechanical music restoration. Upon earning the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts, his son David Jr. began working full-time at the family business in 1986, after years of working after school and summers alongside his father.

In 1994, Dave Sr. received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Musical Box Society International for his work in the field of automatic musical instrument restoration and manufacturing. David Jr. relocated the family business to Marysville in 2008.

Collector Bart Off

Philadelphia, PA 

Bart Off first noticed coin operated music, or nickelodeons, when he was about seven years old. On warm summer evenings, Bart and his dad would walk about three blocks from their home in Philadelphia to the Dolly Madison Ice Cream Parlor to get some pints to bring home to the family. There in the shop was a tall piano with organ pipes waiting for young Bart to drop a nickel into the slot so it could perform a tune and bring a smile to the little boy’s face. The ice cream parlor closed its doors a few years later, but that piano and its wonderful music made an impression in young Bart’s imagination.

While he was a mechanical engineering student, Bart traded his radio collection for a non-working player piano. Bart lived on the second floor of an apartment complex, with a small narrow entrance hall. Unable to get the piano up the stairs, Bart repaired the piano at the bottom of the stairs. Luckily, the landlord loved the piano and offered to help Bart get it into his little one room apartment. The landlord used his bucket loader to lift the piano to the second floor so Bart could pull the piano inside. Soon after, the piano was sold and Bart found another. It too had to be lifted up to his apartment in the same manner as the first, in fact, this was done seven times as Bart repaired player pianos to help pay for college. The landlord would visit Bart regularly to check on his progress and enjoy the piano music.

Once out of college, Bart got hired at Bell Laboratories where he stayed for most of his career. Bart was part of a group that did plant design and supervised plant construction, requiring him to relocate several times. One of the first relocations was to Denver. When the relocation coordinator asked Bart if he had any items of unusual weight or bulk, Bart replied, “Yes, I have ten pianos.” The coordinator laughed and took it as a joke until Bart explained, “Really! I have ten pianos!” Bell Laboratories covered the expenses of $132,000, in 1977. 

The last move before retiring was back to the Philadelphia area. Bart had amassed a collection of coin pianos and orchestrions in various conditions. Bart had a large shop built on his property to repair and display his collection in 2002. He would open his shop and showroom to anyone that was interested in sharing his passion. Every year, around the first weekend in May, Bart would invite some of the many restorers, collectors, and enthusiasts he had come to know during his forty years in the hobby to his shop and showroom to spend the day listening to music. Carefully crafting his list of invitees to include people that may not know each other, he would try to invite someone new every year. Since it was always around the 5thof May, Bart would put on a few of his favorite ethnic Mexican music rolls and call it a “Cinco de Mayo” party. The event gained a certain notoriety for those in the hobby.

As he was slowing down with age, Bart made arrangements to see that his collection and Cinco de Mayo parties continue without him. Bart entrusted good friend and Cinco de Mayo regular, David Ramey Jr, with his collection and to share their common passion for nickel music.

Music Machine Tidbits

A time when all music was performed live. A time before smart phones and home smart displays; before CDs, tapes, and phonograph records, and radio. When music had to be experienced as it was being performed. Recorded music has existed for hundreds if not thousands of years, but it had to be reproduced live by intricately crafted mechanical devices that replicated human performers.

Ancient Greeks had crude self-playing mechanical pipe organs. Tower carillon bells appeared throughout Europe in the 13th century. Self-playing mechanisms were adapted for early keyboard instruments by the 17th century. In the 1700s music boxes were introduced. Through the 1800s, mechanical music blossomed, crafted in all shapes and sizes from small pocket sized music boxes to large self-playing pipe organs and

orchestrations able to fill a crowded concert hall with music. By the early 1900s, mechanical music reached a high level of sophistication with the introduction of automatic pianos, organs and orchestrations that operated from perforated paper music rolls. Many were made to be coin-operated and were displayed in all manner of public places to deliver music to the masses.

The popularity of these public music machines lasted about 30 years, replaced by the phonograph and radio. Today, automatic music machines are difficult to find, mostly existing in private collections and museums, relics of a bygone era. It may be the elusive, never-to-be-recaptured feeling of an earlier era that makes such instruments so fascinating today. The sound produced by a properly restored automatic musical instrument is the exact sound that our ancestors heard and enjoyed. One can listen to an old phonograph record or view an old film, but the experience is reproduced through a medium. It is not so with these musical time machines. There is no medium between today's listener and the

"performer" of years ago. The performer is here today and plays for you undiminished, with nothing lost or changed, just as in years past. The performance that delights the listener today may have delighted, in exactly the same way, Queen Victoria, Teddy Roosevelt, a Chicago speakeasy patron, or a Paris streetwalker years ago. Through the music of such machines, the emotions and entertainment of another time and place, come to life unaltered and undimmed today. Follow the trail illustrated in this pamphlet and discover several of these magical musical time machines located throughout Uptown Marysville.

The Nickel Music Collection features personal instruments and related items of a few collectors, including Bart Off and Dave Ramey, and is maintained by D.C. Ramey Piano Company in special cooperation with Brad McClincy.

Union County Convention & Visitors Bureau

227 East Fifth Street, Marysville Ohio, 43040 | 937.642.6279 | VisitUnionCountyOhio.org

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