At first glance the object pictured looks like a cheap radiogram, but it is in fact a toy or novelty musical box, with drawers for jewellery, hidden behind the front of the ‘loudspeakers’.

It is tiny with the dimensions: width: 190mm (7.5”), depth: 85mm (3.3”) and height: 110mm (4.3”)

Variations of this toy were made by a firm called ‘Musica’ in Japan and, like the one shown, in Hong Kong.

The music is played on a metal clockwork device hidden in the toy, which is wound up with a key on the base.

The music is started by lifting the arm of the ‘record player’ and placing it on the ‘record’. The disc spins and a tune plays. The tune played by this particular model is ‘Fur Elise’ by Beethoven. Other tunes were available, including an extract from ‘Swan Lake and ‘A Maiden’s Prayer’.

It may be that some versions with classical music were marketed as jewellery boxes, whereas others were marketed as an accessory for Barbie or Cindy dolls, including one that played ‘Love Story’.


Key theme(s):


More information:

Date 1960s
Material(s) PlasticMetal
Item number MBPO126

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Have you ever owned a musical box? If so, what tune did it play?
  • Can you describe it?
  • Did you like the sound?
  • How long did it play for before needing to be rewound?
  • What happened to it?

User Stories

The first music box I remember was a carved wooden box, which held a tray for cigarettes. It was owned by my parents and played an extract from ‘The Trout’ by Schubert. I still have it and it is in perfect working order. I believe it is Swiss.

Small toy musical boxes make good stocking presents for Christmas.

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