Music boxes by Mermod Frères from 1885 on(Bulleid: Cylinder Musical Box Technology p. 24-28)
“Where there is light,
Probably most Mermod output in the 1885-1895 period was of standard movements with cylinders 6“ (15 cm) or less (Bulleid: Cylinder Musical Box Technology, 1994, p. 24-28)
Mermod Frères in the late 1880s
An objective on wether the Mermod design was an improvement on the original would probably end in a draw. No space is saved by having the spring and cylinder in line. Crank wind is handier than lever. However, the handle is loose and requires a parking slot at the bass end. The controls are slightly less convenient and are both under the glass lid. Simplified final assembly brought cost savings, and the layout was excellent for interchangeable cylinders, as shown in Fig. 4-40. (Bulleid: Cylinder Musical Box Technology, 1994, p. 24-28)
Patents up to 1888
They came in different sizes to suit different lids. In the left hand lower corner they show the Mermod trademark with founding date 1816. Unaccountably, this date sometimes shows up as 1840. For Mermod´s special types, such as Guitare and Bells, the design gives ample room for a descriptive heading above the tune list.
The main spring unwinds one turn for every tune, so it has to be as many times weaker and longer as the spring barrel to cylinder gear ratio of lever design, which needs much more winding so crank-wind is almost essential. The single bearing for the spring is only 1 1/8“ (29 mm) wide and has to stand forces imposed by heavy handed winders. To reduce float the brass coverplate is ingeniously made slightly convex so its concave underside only bears on the shaft at the two extreme ends of the V-groove of the bearing.
Assembly is very simple and quick; the cylinder first, with driving fork upright, and then the spring positioned to engage it. No skill is needed to position and screw home all the pieces, and the only adjustments required are the bearing covers, the orientation of the cylinder driving fork, and the upright extension of the stop arm. It has to catch the governor stop tail only when the stop arm has entered the hole in the spring barrel. I have found this out of adjustment at auction viewings, being set so that it always stops immediately when the lever is moved to STOP. This obliterates the automatic end-of-tune stop and probably causes stops in the middle of tunes. I suspect this has been done by owners who know better than the makers.
The spring barrel gear, which in this design acts as the great wheel, is 2 ¾“ (7 cm) in diameter with 156 teeth. This gives 2184 revs of the endless per cylinder rec, the top end of the usual range.
An idiotic feature of the case is that if you put the winding handle back in its partition it slides underneath and rattles about. Cure: a small wood block will retain it vertically in ready-for-use, rattle-free position.
Mermod in the U.S.A.
In his 1938 notes, L.G. Jaccard praises Mermod´s Ideal music box as one of the best, most simple and inexpensive ever made, explaining its popularity in the USA and its greater scope with cylinders up to 25“ (64 cm) long by 3 ¼“ (8 cm) diameter.
The expensive Mermod range is covered in a 70-page catalog issued in 1895 by Heeren Bros. of Pittsburg. It lists and illustrates 6 Peerless and 20 Ideal types, and 30 more ranging from small „tabatieres“ to orchestrals and coin-operated types. There are also manivelles, chalets, musical alarms, singing birds and sundries. No wonder the decent sized factory shown in Fig. 1-18 was needed. The catalog concludes with 15 pages listing cylinders available, all with six tunes and with unlisted tunes available at a small charge; and 10 pages listing and illustrating available spares, replacements for practically every item in every box, including springs and comb teeth – a total of 137 items.
Ham-fisted. This conjures up visions of a genial, but ham-fisted operator downing a dopuble scotch and lighting to steady his hand as he advances on the grating musical box to lunge unsteadily at the cylinder with oil dripping from his large knife; so please see Chapter 7, page 204.
ENDE / END / FIN