Kyle's Flea Market Mystery Box
By James Grahame
Jewelry box? Tombstone Radio? Miniature casket for Rudee Valley? Almost!
Found on a recent visit to the New York City flea market in Chelsea, I almost passed on this gem thinking it was a run of the mill jewelry box. But as I looked closer I noticed the gold frame and small porthole-esque window alluding that this was more than meets the eye. Turns out this amazing mechanical marvel is an inlaid wooden cigarette box, complete with dancing cigarettes, alternating blinking colored lights, and music box. Not to mention a mirror and all around good time.
As if all this weren't enough, it also includes a lighter and revolving display of images which show through the front porthole/radio dial window. These "views" snap into place every few seconds, and show a different view of Asia with each pass... and the images illuminate as well.. whoa!
This cigarette dispenser/virtual jukebox set me back a whopping $32 and I was so excited I couldn't wait to go home and open this box of magic to see how it ticks, er in this case whirs. Inside is an elaborate yet quaint series of wires and small colored bulbs, connected to various metal tabs. These tabs help alternate the low voltage current (making the lights blink alternately) by touching a series of revolving pegs, spun by the music box movement, which is also responsible for the teeter totter motion of the dancing cigarette platform, and spinning front image display.... yeesh!
I have found very little information about this amazing beauty online, thought I do remember seeing a website that said these were souvenirs of Asia from the 1930's through the 1950's. If anyone has more info on the manufacture or images of various models, please leave a comment and let us know!
Till the next find ~Kitsch Kyle [Kyle has promised to drop in occasionally to show off items from his vintage collection.]