The National Automatic Piano Manufacturing Company (later known as the National Piano Manufacturing Company) was located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The firm was mainly active in the 1920s. Their main product was this coin piano, resembling a keyboard piano in appearance but not having a keyboard. This coin piano was equipped with a “ferris wheel style” 8-roll automatic song changer. Each roll has one tune on it. This particular coin piano is one of the rarer ones in that it has a mechanical diorama of racing dogs built in the top section, supposedly “for amusement purposes only.”
These coin pianos were made with the route operator in mind. Many bore the notation “Property of the National Automatic Music Company,” implying that the firm may have leased rather than sold the instruments to bars, ice cream parlors, etc. The special size music rolls for these coin pianos were only made by the National Company and were changed weekly, proving there once was a “Top 8.”Because it cost a nickel to play a song on the coin piano, they easily became known as nickelodeons.
In recent years, most nickelodeons have been changed to operate only with quarters rather than nickels. This one has never been tampered with, giving you the best value for your nickel.