THE REGINA COMPANY
The first coin operated music machines were not jukeboxes, but coin operated cylinder and disc music boxes. In fact, most pre-1900 music boxes were coin operated because they were too expensive for all except the very rich.
The "Wurlitzer" of the music box market was the Regina Company. In the early 1900's, its name, like Wurlitzer later on, was synonymous with music boxes. Also, like the Wurlitzer 1015, Regina utilized widespread national advertising to promote its products. Regina was so successful that it captured 80% of the disc music box market in America. Between 1894 and 1917, Regina sold approximately 1000,000 music boxes.
Gustave Brachhausen and Paul Riessner founded the Regina Company in 1892 when they came to America from Germany. Their many years of experience in the music box business in Europe gave them a head start over everyone else in America.
At first they imported the music boxes, but then they hired German technicians to come to America and they produced music boxes utilizing the techniques of mass production building many of one model and storing them away for future sales. In order to increase sales, in 1897 Gustave Brachhausen invented in a disc changing box. The music box held a dozen discs and the tunes were selected by a dial on the side. Different models of the disc changing music boxes played 15 (", 20 3/4", and 27" discs.
After the early 1900's, phonographs replaced music boxes as the main form of home entertainment. Regina tried to change with the times and even produced a combination music box and phonograph called the Reginaphone, but sales continued to drop until they went bankrupt in 1922.
While the Regina name is most well known for its music boxes, Regina also made gum vending machines that dispensed a stick of gum along with a tune. Regina disc music boxes were also built into the floor model color wheel slot machines, e.g., the Musical UNO. These Regina Slots were rare because most musical slot machines utilize cylinder music boxes.
An especially attractive Regina gambling/vending machine was the Automatic Cashier and Discount Machine. This four-part machine contained a vertical disc music box, a gum vendor, a rotating marquee that changed its advertisements each time a coin was inserted, and a gambling wheel in the middle.
Regina started to diversify in the early 1900's in anticipation of the changing music market. Around 1909, Regina got into the vacuum cleaner business and even though music boxes are recognized as desirable, the reorganized Regina Corporation made it big in vacuum cleaners. In fact, it was just in the last year that the Regina Corporation officially went out of business when it was sold to the Electrolux Company.
For a list of music machines for sale, go to Music Machine Sales Lists
For information on jukeboxes, go to the Jukebox Resource Center
Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques