Stella Music Boxes

Stella disc music box with discs circa 1900; single comb case with pressed molding on top and base and 32 music discs

p4A ItemID E8956614
A quarter sawn oak Swiss "Stella" music box and cabinet, fourth quarter 19th century, the music box with a single comb and bearing the celluloid retailer's tag "Jacot & Son, 39 Union Square, New York", with thirty-six disks

p4A ItemID E8956560
An oak Stella 17" music box

p4A ItemID E8944608
A Stella double comb disc music box in a mahogany case with carved foliate decoration and single drawer, plus near 50 discs

p4A ItemID E8937060

Stella Music Boxes

Stellas were the swan song for the Mermod Freres company of Ste. Croix, Switzerland. They were vastly over-engineered which led to extremely high production costs. This ultimately led to bankruptcy for Mermod; they could not compete profitably in a market dominated by Symphonion, Polyphon, and Regina, all of whom could produce comparably sized boxes at much lower cost, most of which were musically superior to the Stella product. Stellas do have a nice tone quality, but their music arranger was less talented than that of Regina or Polyphon.

Due to a design flaw, Stellas tend to break the top four or five treble teeth frequently (in both combs), and one rarely encounters machines which do not have at least a few of them missing. The problem occurs when the flat discs (no projections) get wear grooves in their undersides and the star wheels get caught and jam at a position where there are no note holes intended. This instantly snaps off teeth, and reduces the value of the music box.

Many Stellas are found with a metal tag inscribed “Jacot & Sons, Union Square, NY” affixed to the inner case. Jacot was the U.S. distributor of Mermod products for the latter years of the 19th century. They even published a booklet of music box repair instructions, and sold repair parts for a variety of both cylinder and disc boxes, including sections of comb teeth, all manner of gears, screws, tools, pin wire, etc. Jacot & Sons are best known today for their patented “Jacot Safety Check”, a device attached to the large cylinder gear which prevented a “run” in case the governor gear train was upset. For this reason, one almost never finds a Mermod Cylinder music box of the late period (1885 to 1902) with a stripped cylinder.

p4A.com acknowledges Reg Smith of Sublime Harmony Restorations, Athens, Georgia, for information in this note.


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