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Wednesday

Interview with Don Caine the Music Box Repair Man


Don Caine, aka the Music Box Repair Man, has been a music box specialist for almost as long as I’ve been alive. Music boxes have taken him to Switzerland to learn about the manufacture of the musical mechanisms. To Florence and Sorrento, Italy to learn how the finest inlaid music box cabinets are made. To France and Germany to learn about mechanical musical automata, mechanical singing bird boxes and bird cages, and back to his home in the U.S. to work with Canadian & American collectors and sellers of those wonderful mechanical musical creations of the past. I recently had the pleasure to meet with Don personally and to interview him about his passion for his work and his almost compulsive obsession with precision and perfection in what he does.

" You can take something mechanical and make it ethereal. That's the wonder of music. Somehow or other sounds resonate within us on a different level than anything else."


What is the best way to describe the work you do?

I provide repair/restoration services and parts for music boxes and try to restore them to their prior glory. In the process I have found that I am often able to bring great joy to people by restoring family heirlooms that sometimes haven't been heard in years. So, on a philosophical level, I guess I make my living by restoring other people's memories.


What is the most interesting piece you've worked on?

Probably an intricate late 1800s French mechanical singing bird box. Also, a really troublesome 1890's Thorens disc player that has taken me a long time to restore - in fact I still don't have it completely restored to my satisfaction.






Have you ever repaired anything that you wished you could keep?

Oh yeah (laughs) almost everything I fix I wish I could keep; they're beautiful, I put a lot of love and affection into each of them.


Do you think your fascination is with the mechanics or with the music boxes themselves?

I think it's a combination of the two . The fact that you can take something mechanical and make it ethereal, I guess. I guess that's the wonder of music. Somehow or other sounds resonate within us on a different level than anything else.


Would you say you have a nostalgic streak?

Well Yes. I tend to be more at ease at a when things are quieter, kinder, gentler and less hectic...



In what era would you have liked to have grown up?

I think the late 1800's. I would have liked to be around when Edison was inventing. I love to tinker and make things work, hopefully better than they did before. I could certainly also see myself as the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.




What is something that you are really proud of and why?

Diligence, honesty, the quality of the work that I do. I strive towards perfection in my work.


When people look back at your life, how do you want to be remembered?

I think as a kind & generous person who did the best he knew how.

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