Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

July 2, 2014

The music goes 'round and 'round for jukebox collectors

“Sunday, Monday, happy days. Tuesday Wednesday, happy days. Thursday, Friday, happy days.........goovin’ all week with you.”

With these lyrics the hit sitcom “Happy Days” came bounding into our homes from 1974-1984 and as we watched the opening credits many of us saw a familiar site from our youth – a Jukebox!

Deriving its name from the Gullah word “juke,” meaning something rowdy, wicked, or disorderly, the “Jukebox” of the mid-20th Century is a true American icon and a hot commodity in the field of collecting.

It is the misconception of many that the Jukebox came into popularity in the 1950s with the advent of rock and roll music, when, in fact, the popularity of these “pay to play” machines has been very profitable industry since 1890.

The Granddaddy of the jukebox, the one song “Coin-slot phonograph,” first appeared in 1889 using phonograph cylinders. In 1910 the gramophone replaced the cylinders offering up to eight selections.

The Jukebox, as we know it, surfaced in the late 1930s filled with opera, classical and big band “swing music” and was so will received that from 1943 to 1947 three-fourths of all records (shellac 78 rpms) produced, ended up in Jukeboxes.

In 1941 Wurlitzer replaced the standard plain wooden box with a model the appropriately named “The Peacock.” With its beautiful light show, full color animation and marbleized plastic casing it set the standard for Jukebox production until 1943 when metal and plastic were needed for the war effort and all manufacturing ceased until 1946. When production resumed, a number of new companies set up production and for the next next 20 years the Jukebox once again became the central attraction at soda shops and diners across America.

In the early 1950s The Seeburg Corporation introduced the first jukebox to play all 45rpm vinyl records. Their 1953 Seeburg M100C (the one featured in “Happy Days”) accommodated 50 records, offering the listener 100 selections. This very colorful model featured chrome accents, mirrors and rotating animation in the pilasters. They are currently bringing $3,000 to $3,500 at auction.

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