MARYSVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – Music machines are huge cabinets that have musical instruments in them. You put in a nickel and a tune plays on a real paper reel. To say they are old-fashioned would be an understatement.
In Marysville, resident David Ramey has a collection of these devices and wanted them to be enjoyed by the public. Ramey contacted the Marysville and Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau to create a music machine trail.
The public can visit six of these historic machines in uptown Marysville along with two bonus machines on a music trail.
“You get a little trail map, you go around to the different stops, you put your nickel in and listen to the tune,” Welcome Center Manager Corrie Bott said. “Some of them have stained glass, some have banjos, some have pianos, drums, they are all different.”
Ultimately, you get your map stamped at each location and redeem it at the Welcome Center for a prize.
From Vocabulary.com, the official name is a nickelodeon. The common U.S. meaning was for any music machine that operates with a coin or token.
Since 1955, Dave Ramey Sr. set the standard of excellence in automatic musical instrument restoration. He received his education and training while maintaining the nickelodeon collection at Svoboda’s Nickelodeon Tavern and Museum in Chicago Heights, Illinois, during the 1960s.
“That’s become my mission now is to share these with the public as much as I can,” said Ramey.
Dave has trained some of today’s most skilled craftsmen in the art of mechanical music restoration. Upon earning the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts his son David Jr. began working full-time at the family business in 1986, after years of working after school and summers alongside his father.
David Jr. relocated the family business from the Chicago area to Marysville in 2008.
The Nickel Music Collection features personal instruments and related items of a few collectors, including Bart Off and Dave Ramey, and is maintained by D.C. Ramey Piano Company in special cooperation with Brad McClincy.