(Automatic Musical Instruments Built by Wurlitzer)
Chairman of the Board,
The Wurlitzer Company.
1950s publicity photograph.
Art Reblitz became fascinated with automatic instruments when he first saw a Seeburg KT Special in an amusement arcade in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1954. During the rest of his grade school years he read what little information about these instruments he could find in libraries and magazines, but there wasn’t much in print at that time. It seemed that not one soul ever wanted to talk about his favorite subject. By the time Art was in high school, 1960-1964, he began to find more books and recordings, visited Svoboda’s Nickelodeon Tavern regularly, and began writing letters to people all over the country whom he thought might share information about their companies or collections.
His high school library had a copy of the book From Tin Foil to Stereo by Read and Welch, in which he found the names of the major companies that were making coin operated phonographs at the time, so Art wrote to each company to see what he could learn about their history. This resulted in some very nice replies. David C. Rockola responded by restoring his 1937 Rock-Ola Rhythm King at no charge, giving Art a tour of the factory, taking him to lunch at the Sheraton-Chicago hotel where they were interviewed by talk show host Sig Sakowicz, and eventually offering Art a job in the engineering department—which he ended up not accepting as he chose to major in music in college instead of engineering. An executive of the Seeburg Company sent a brief company history.
Farny Wurlitzer sent a personal letter, dated February 26, 1962, which is reproduced exactly as received, except that Art's Riverdale, Illinois, address of the time has been redacted. The letter is available in PDF format by clicking on the button link below. In it Mr. Wurlitzer describes the Wurlitzer Company’s involvement with automatic instruments from 1894 up through the prohibition era. At the time he wrote the letter he was 78 years old, and he lived ten more years.
|Download the Farny Wurlitzer letter
by clicking on the button link below.
41 KB, 3 pages.