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Orchestrions

Visitors can experience a fascinating orchestrion collection in the Museum Wilhelmsbau. There are instruments from all eras and design of which only a few specimens still exist today. Since orchestrions are equipped with many different sound sources their diversity of sound can be compared to a small orchestra. Typical are a piano part which, in many cases, can also be played manually, percussion instruments like drums, cymbals and xylophones, and different types of pipes. Pinned barrels and paper bands are used as sound carriers.

Even the best disc music boxes do not reach the sound quality of an orchestrion. Most of the instruments were built in Germany during 1830 and 1930. Important manufacturers were, e.g., Hupfeld, Popper, and Lösche in Leipzig and Welte, Weber, Bruder, Ruth, Imhof & Mukle, Heizmann, and Blessing in the Black Forest and the surrounding area. After 1930 the automatic musical instruments, except for dance and fairground organs, were more and more displaced by record players, tape recorders, and radio sets.