Santa's Magic Piano

Santa's Magic Piano

This lovely toy came from the New York Toy Fair around 1995. You place the little piano - it is an Elfway by the way - onto the keys of a normal piano, and when you switch the little piano on, the little feet at the bottom press down on the piano keys, and stamp out a tune.

Santa's Magic Piano is battery powered, and although it is now showing signs of age, when it was new you could place it on your piano, and the elves would play a whole medley of tunes. Nowadays it needs a little coaxing!

Many people will be familiar with the old Pianolas - automatic pianos that could play a tune when you loaded a paper roll into them. But there were also companies that made devices that could be placed so that they covered the keys of a normal piano, and could then 'play' it for you automatically.

Visitors to London, England might like to visit the amazing collection of automatic instruments that can be found in the Musical Museum. The museum is in the middle of moving to new premises, and is scheduled to re-open in late 2007.

At the time of writing, they are also between two web sites, but if you dig around you can hear examples of the Wurlitzer cinema organ, the Clarabella Orchestrion, and even the Mills Violana-Virtuoso, an automatic instrument that not only plays the violin - yes, the violin! - but also plays the piano accompaniment.