Automatic Musical Company
Cabinet-Style Automatic Pianos

Automatic Musical Company Style M keyboardless orchestrion.

(Photograph courtesy of John Rutoskey)

Automatic Musical Company Style M 69-Note Player Piano. "Orchestrion in light or dark oak, price $850.00 (with or without nickel slot)."

The advertising continues: "Just the thing for Picture Shows; these pianos require no attention, just turn the button on and the piano plays from tune to tune until turned off--You do not have to wait for music to rewind. Plays 15-tune Endless Roll which eliminates the reverse or rewind troubles. The very highest achievement in Player-Piano construction. Plays 69 notes and is fitted with Automatic Mandolin Attachment and 30 Pipes, each playing in turn as music is cut or arranged. Can be played loud or soft. We furnish the latest music that plays with correct expression. Music with Variations. Made by Automatic Musical Co., Binghamton, New York."

"Sold by J.F. Herman, 1420 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C."

Although the advertisement says the Style M has 69 notes, we believe this is a typo because Automatic Musical Co. rolls (and later Link rolls) had 61 notes, as did a gutted style M piano once owned by Art Reblitz.

Automatic Musical Company Style M with symmetrical metal pipes.(Photograph courtesy Brian Smith)

The Automatic Musical Company Style M, Haddorff piano #18,838, as illustrated in the Kenneth S. Hays & Associates, Inc., auction catalogue of April, 1988. Hays & Associates, located in Louisville, Kentucky, announced earlier in the year that they were privileged to sell at Absolute Auction the "fabulous collection of automatic musical instruments belong to the late George Murphy," the auction to be held on Saturday, April 4, 1988, at 10:00 A.M.

Automatic Musical Company Style M with symmetrical metal pipes.(Photograph courtesy Jerry Biasella)

Unrestored and somewhat cobbled Automatic Musical Company Style M, Haddorff piano #18,838, as it appeared at the Hays Auction of the Murphy collection. It has what is probably the original symmetrical rank of metal open flute pipes, which are visible behind the beveled glass window. The original stack appears to have been replaced by a later vintage unit stack, and the horizontal pump is probably a replacement for the original pump, which might have been an early vertical 4-lobe rocker arm type pump—the predecessor to the later type horizontal pump now in residence. The shelf of unfinished lumber and the Monarch A roll mechanism hanging from it are not original to this instrument, and are probably a much later unprofessional conversion. Judging from the oil and dirt patterns on the case floor the pump was originally on the right hand side, and moved to the left side to make room for the clumsily added Monarch roll frame.

It is still a puzzle as to what kind of endless roll mechanism was originally installed. The prevailing pattern for machinery in the piano bottom for contemporary AMC pianos was a motor on the left, a squarish reservoir in the middle, and the pump near the right side of the case. This arrangement follows through on later AMC and certain Link pianos. If the same commonly used layout applies to this Style M where did they put the bulky vertical roll frame and storage bin? By the time this piano was outfitted AMC was already having patent infringement issues regarding their use of the vertical endless roll system, and so was this piano originally equipped with some sort of early pre-Thayer horizontal music roll cabinet?

What is known is this: A cone type friction speed/tempo drive is mounted to the right side of the case, which is the same device used on all observed AMC and Link pianos that have a horizontal music roll cabinet installed. And then there is the lower access panel leaning upright to the right of the case, with the "Important Things You Should Know" placard affixed to its inner facing side. This is a notice that customarily accompanied the use of the horizontal roll cabinet and that explained how to put in, change, and take out music rolls. So does the presence of the speed/tempo device and the "Important Things...." notice indicate that some kind of horizontal roll cabinet was originally installed, or was the original whatever-it-was completely replaced by a more modern horizontal roll mechanism that required the installation of the cone friction drive?