Lot 723 View Catalog
OFFERED WITHOUT RESERVE
J.P. Seeburg Piano Co. (Chicago, Illinois)
By the 1920s the J.P. Seeburg Piano Company, founded in 1909, was at the top of the list of American makers of coin-operated pianos and orchestrions. Competition was mounted by the Operators Piano Company (Coinola instruments), the Link Piano Company, the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company (which was preoccupied with making theatre pipe organs) and others, but most historians agree that Seeburg led the field. The firm was a paragon of consistency, and nearly all of its instruments used one of just three popular types of music rolls: the A (as here), G and H.
The Seeburg Style E with mandolin attachment and xylophone was one of the three most popular models made by Seeburg during the prohibition-era 1920s, popular in soda fountains, candy stores and especially speakeasies. The Style E has always been a favorite of collectors and remains so today.
This example, made in 1924, was a popular fixture in the main barroom of the famous Svoboda's Nickelodeon Tavern in Chicago Heights, Illinois, one of the largest and most well-known public displays of automatic instruments in the U.S. It was purchased by the Milhous brothers directly from Svoboda's upon that attraction's closing circa 1982. Never restored cosmetically and showing its colorful barroom history with original cigarette burns on the keys and remarkable patina, it remains in playing condition. The art glass and coach lamps are original. Included with the instrument are a dozen 10-tune A rolls. 60x58x30 inches.