Friday, January 9, 2009

The Cheney Talking Machine

Over Christmas, a few family members managed to retrieve this from the crawlspace of my in-law's house.

It's a Cheney Talking Machine!

It is in need of a lot of work, but oh-so-cool.

Here's a few more pictures:


And a quick movie of a 1920's dance tune!

They want to restore it, but are unsure of how to got about this. There is substantial water damage to the finish on the top, the legs are very shaky, and the entire unit is bowed down in the middle (so you can't close the lid). Any advice on how to restore something like this, particularly with the detailed paintings?

We are on the search for our very own Victrola... we want a small one with a hand crank. What a neat sound they have!


Allie said...

Wow! That is such a fantastic find!

Robj98168 said...

What a cool find! When I saw the title of the post I as afraid it was something about Dick Cheney's greatest speeches. This is better!

modernemama said...

Gorgeous just as it is

pedalpower said...

What a treasure!!

Why S? said...

That really is a treasure, something to keep in the family. Like Rbobj, I'm glad no reference to you know who.

Jayne said...

Hee hee. At first I thought it was a reference to the nearly-departed Veep. Glad to find out otherwise. :) About the restoration of the Talking Machine: if it were me, I'd go to a reputable antique dealer who sells furniture and ask him or her what they recommend. Oftentimes they sell products to restore the finish of furniture, or can point you in the right direction of someone who sells them. It's beautiful as is, though.

StuccoHouse said...

Very cool! Hard to tell by a photo, but it looks like it might be burled rosewood or walnut??

My advice for what it's worth.....take a rag with a bit of mineral spirits and touch the finish in an out of the way place. If the finish is not affected, use this to gently clean off the surface. Mineral spirits works as a "dry cleaner" that cleans but does not affect the finish in any way (although you always want to test). Once clean, you can truly assess the condition. This may actually also help with the white marks (water on the finish - but not through to the wood - which is good). Then a nice paste wax. I'd take the least invasive route and not use anything on the piece that will "refinish" it or alter it in any way.

Very cool find!! ! a crawl space of all places :-)

Dawn said...

I want one! OMG that is soo cool!

Green Fairy said...

That's gorgeous. I collect phonographs (Edison, Victrola) and old radios, but I never knew anyone who had a Cheney.

I'd write to the Antique Phonograph Supply Company to see if they know anyone who works on Cheneys who could give you some advice. Or do a Google search for "Antique Phonograph Society" to find a local chapter. There are a number of repair guys who can help you with the mechanics.

A good repair guide to have is "The Compleat Talking Machine"

Check out Craig's List for phonographs; you'll sometimes find them cheaper there than on eBay. Or post an ad that you're looking for one. Stay away from Antique Stores for the most part, they tend to charge too much for what they have. Good luck finding your own!

Larry said...

Oh now that's just AWESOME!!!

Stephanie said...

That is SO cool!

Jennifer said...

Thanks all!

Robj, Jayne, and Why S?~ I have to say, it was VERY hard to find information about the Cheney Talking Machine without pulling up 1000's of pages on that OTHER Cheney Talking Machine!

Modernemama~ It is gorgeous as is... but structurally it needs help!

Stuccohouse~ It's a veneer of some sort... I'm really bad at wood id! We'll have them try the mineral spirits. It was put in the crawl space when my husband was a child for "safe keeping" and because there was no space, and then they remodeld the whole house around it. THey weren't sure it would come OUT of the crawl space!

Green Fairy~ Very cool! I'd love to hear more about your collection. I found this fascinating. The mechanics are in great shape... it's the wood that is rough. Mostly the water damage on top, and the wobbly legs and bowing.

WavGirl said...

Wow! I LOVE it! It's amazing that it still works so well. What a great thing to have.

Jeff said...

I have an old Cheney Talking Machine sale brochure, which has an illustration matching your pictures. It's "Style 112 Modern Georgian". Here's the description:

All the elegance of the period designs produced by Old World masters is born again in Cheney Art Models. Constructed of richly figured Cuban mahogany and satinwood with inlaid crossband border and finely carved grille, this model offers the ultimate in musical instruments of modern furniture design.

Equipped with two large resonators. Eight record albums, beautifully bound. Electric motor and heavy automatic stop. All exposed metal parts heavily gold-plated in rich Roman finish. Two reproducers for playing all records. Steel and jewel needles. Top measures 23x46 inches. Stands 34 inches high.