Adventures in Musical History – DeBence Antique Music World: Christine’s Chronicles

by Christine Lorraine Morgan ~ April 5, 2022

It’s easy to forget what year it is when wandering through the timeless musical displays housed within the walls of DeBence Anqitue Music World in Franklin, PA. The instruments, machines and technological masterpieces of sound conveyance envelop visitors in their yesteryear sounds.

One of the larger, more memorable instruments at DeBence is the Wurlitzer Model 153, a mechanized one-man band of sorts. It is pretty easy to single out due to its colorful uniqueness.

Wurlitzer Model 153 Dated 1919

The tag in front reads, “Wurlitzer Model 153 Dated 1919” on this duplex orchestral band organ. It was constructed in North Tonawanda, NY by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. This dandy specimen of musical history is an organ with 54 keys that play 46 notes, accompanied by a cymbal and two drums. There are 164 organ pipes because some of the keys are designated to more than one pipe.

It also contains a glockenspiel, which is visible in the lower half of the band organ. It is said that this particular model of Wurlitzer evolved into the standard by which other merry-go-round organs were judged.

Between 1916 and 1936, about 169 of these spectacular music machines were built.

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Imagine how refined this Zenith Cobra-Matic radio phonograph looked in the parlor back in 1951. This relic of mid-20th century audio technology looks new and ready to play a stack of records. It was so high-tech that according to the Cobra-Matic advertisement below the photo, it was ready to handle the “coming new 16 R.P.M.”

This dandy new-looking Zenith Cobra-Matic was advertised as “The Record Fan’s Delight.” It was described as the “Simplest automatic record-player ever built! Plays all records of any speed from 10 to 85, including the coming new 16 R.P.M.!”

Here is the detailed 1951 advertisement for the new Zenith Cobra-Matic Radio-Phonograph

Check out this ultra rare Wurlitzer Model 148 duplex military band organ from the 1920s

A great way to march to the beat of a rare and unusual drummer would be with this dandy Wurlitzer Model 148, which came from Tonawanda, NY. This 49-key organ plays 46 notes total, with rhythm provided by two drums and a cymbal! It boasts 129 brass pipes, 15 trumpets, 3 trombones, 16 piccolos and 16 clarinets.

Only 46 Model 148s were ever built, all between 1916 and 1936. It operates similar to a player piano, by reading a paper roll with holes punched into it. Amazingly, this particular model operates with two tracker frames, enabling it to play continuously because while one is rewinding the other is playing.

Price tag was around $1,050, which was a small fortune in the 1920s. The model on display at DeBence museum was previously utilized at a western PA skating rink until the mid-1930s in the Stoneboro/Sandy Lake area.

DeBence Antique Music World is located at 1261 Liberty Street, Franklin, PA


This children’s music showcase displays some of the ways young people made and listened to music in the mid 20th century.

These Victrola players were popular during the early 20th century and made it possible for people to listen to pre-recorded music, a concept which seemed quite futuristic and advanced at that time.

Hello RCA Victor Dog!


About xtinethewriter

* Freelance Writer Xtraordinaire * Producer of 300+ youtube videos * Cellist and bassist * Over 4,000 photos on Google maps viewed 300,000,000 times * Army veteran stationed in Bangkok, Thailand * Creative director for and * Former Advertising Executive, REALTOR, TV Producer, and Majority Inspector of Elections for Millcreek's 5th Ward, Erie County, PA. Also check out and * See her complete video collection at:
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