Vintage Reuge Music Box: Value & Identification Guide

As a full-time antique collector and a part-time music lover, I have always wanted to add an old music box to my collection. And while looking for a perfect addition, I stumbled on Reuge!

I was quite surprised to learn that it was a celebrity antique owned by the Dalai Lama, Jack Ma, and even Barack Obama. So, it had a huge demand! So I researched all the dates and materials that make a Reuge music box a precious collectible! And today, I will be sharing it all with you!

Key Takeaways

  • Aged Reuge music boxes with superior Swiss movements, Walnut walls, and 72-note winders are older and more precious than others.
  • Antique Reuge music boxes with Wood, Ivory, Mother-of-Pearl, or Metal walls cost more due to their handmade finishes and lacquers.
  • Old Reuge boxes have three tunes – Traditional, Multiple & Custom. Of these, the ones with Cylindrical or Singing bird movements cost more, even up to $3000.
  • You’ll get two types of old Reuge boxes: Studio and Lounge. The Lounge ones cost more due to their precise yet customizable notes and tunes.

Notable Features of Vintage Reuge Music Boxes

Vintage Reuge Box with a Spinning Ballerina

You all might have seen the common electric or gas-powered music boxes. But, the old Reuge ones were manual – with cylinders, discs, and pins for the notes. Here are other ages features to spot a real vintage music box:

  • Durable Swiss Movements with handcrafted tuning, gears, and springs
  • Hand-cut and seasoned Mahogany, Walnut, or Cherry frames
  • Manual, Mechanical winding with a key or crank at the bottom
  • 120 – 160 mm boxes with 72-note movements
  • Might have rotating features like spinning ballerinas or moving paintings
  • Might have Horology clocks, Singing birds & Picture frames 

A Brief History of Old Reuge Music Boxes

Did you know that Charles Reuge made the first music pin for pocket watches? So, you’ll see pocket watch clamps, cylinders, and Swiss movements in the earliest models. But later, in the 1870s, he separated the two and focused on cuboidal music boxes.

But such boxes had only one tune and design. So in the 1900s, Charles’s son Albert added compacts, tobacco pipes, round walls, and lights to each. Some also had handmade finishes and Swiss movements that hiked the costs to $5000.

However, in the 1980s, Reuge faced an economic backlog. So, they handed some shares to Kurt Kupper and collaborated with co-brands to raise money. These new models had similar, machine-made designs, making them common.

Antique Reuge Music Box Types (With Values)

Now, people obviously didn’t use the same music notes for lounging and studio work. So, there were two main types of Reuge music box types as follows:

1. Studio Music Boxes

As the name says, these music boxes were for studio work with focused 36 – 40 notes and multiple play tunes for each. You’ll also see superior metal bases, crystal balls, and leather covers for zen-style melodies. Usually, they cost around $100 – 1700.

Top Collectibles: Winch Music Box, Swinging Heart & Reverse Box.

2. Lounge Music Box

Old Reuge Lounge Music Box with 72 notes

Reuge Lounge music boxes are personalized, 72-note boxes worth $500 – 4500. Such models have shiny glass lids and nickel bases with customizable tunes. Plus, you can spot Baroque walls, each with intricate ebony carvings with an archaic charm.

Special Models: The Crescendo, The Arche & Opera Music Box.

7 Steps to Identify and Value Vintage Reuge Music Box

The final music box resale price largely depends on its age, shape, and many other factors. Let’s see how!

1. Track the Music Box’s Manufacturing Date & Age

Antique Reuge Music Box from the 1900s

To find out if your Reuge music box is OLD & AUTHENTIC, rotate the box and look for an embossed date or label at the base. Also look for crude, stationary designs, moving figurines, and carvings as in the old models.

But if you didn’t get any labels, check out these visual cues for help:

Old Reuge Music Box YearsAgeHow to Identify? Estimated Value
Pre-1860s160 – 173 yearsSimple pocket watch clasps with a mechanical sensor that plays notes when the case is opened$500 – 3000
1880s134 – 143 yearsSolid wood walls with mechanical winders and single-tune notes$500 – 4000
1900 – 194083 – 123 yearsThick Ivory or Mother-of-Pearl walls with complex, multiple-tune cylinders and Swiss movements$300 – 2000
1940 – 196063 – 83 yearsRotating Singing bird or Ballerina movements, metal box walls, and Porcelain side carvings$250 – 3000, as per the animation
1970s40 – 50 yearsCabinet-style music boxes with multiple movements, carvings, and interchangeable cylinders$100 – 1800

Try to get old Reuge music boxes with pin-lever cylindrical or disc mechanisms for an old make.

2. Check the Materials

Vintage Reuge Music box with a Mahogany Base

Just like other antiques, the oldest 1900s music boxes had wood – Mahogany or Walnut walls. But then, in the 1930s, makers shifted to metals and glass panels for their cost-effectiveness. And by the 1950s, they had internal, tufted silk or velvet walls too!

So, let’s see how to appraise these different Reuge music box materials:

Vintage Reuge Music Box MaterialsAverage Price
Wood – Mahogany, Walnut & Cherry$400 – 5000
Ivory & Mother of Pearl$900 – 3000
Metal – Brass, Steel & Bronze$150 – 3000 as per the condition
Gold & Silver$700 – 4000, as per the purity
Glass & Crystal$100 – 1500

Pick Reuge music boxes with extra accessories like feathers, twigs, gemstones, and diamonds for high returns.

3. Observe the Surface Finishes

Old Reuge Music Box with Varnished sides

One of the easiest ways to verify a Reuge music box is to check its finish! So, open the box and feel the sides with your hand. If it feels smooth or waxed, it might be an old 1900s music box. But, if it has shiny inlays or gold plating, it might be new, from the 1950s.

Below are some other clues to identify and value such finishes:

Old Reuge Box FinishesIdentification FeaturesEstimated Cost
Polished Wood Varnish & LacquersSmooth, waxy appearance with a semi-gloss finish$500 – 4000
Mother of Pearl InlaysGeometric, floral, or meshed surfaces with a matte texture$600 – 1000
Metal AccentsShiny Brass, Gold-plated, or Silver surfaces$100 – 2500, as per the condition
Velvet or Silk LiningSemi-gloss, textured walls with pleated or satin-smooth surfaces$90 – 500

4. Analyze the Music Box Movements

Antique Reuge Music Box Cylindrical Movements

Vintage Reuge music boxes work on different mechanical movements like Cylinder, Disc, Singing Bird & Polyphonic. Among these, the oldest 1900s ones have Cylindrical or Disc movements, while the 1950s ones might be custom or singing-bird-like.

So, you can price them as per their mechanism, and here’s how:

Reuge Music Box MovementsHow do they Work?Average Value
Cylinder MovementConsists of a rotating cylinder with protruding pins, metal combs, and teeth$200 – 2500
Disc Movement Works on replaceable metal discs, holes, and slots that produce sound$500 – 1500
Singing Bird MovementWorks on automated bird movements that rotate, strike a chord, and produce a tune$500 – 3000
Orchestral MovementUses multiple cylinders, discs, and combs for a richer, layered sound$200 – 1800
Polyphonic MovementsWork on multiple note keys and levers for a dramatic, medium-pitch tune$100 – 800

Antique music boxes with their original Brass discs, combs, flywheels, and winding keys cost 10 – 15% more than the restored ones.

5. Listen to the Tunes

You’ll get three tunes with old Reuge music boxes – Traditional, Multiple & Custom. Of these, the traditional ones, costing $300 – 4000, have classic or folk songs, while the multiple ones value $100 – 3000.

On the other hand, Reuge music boxes with custom notes are a bit pricey, at $500 – 4000. That’s because of unique mechanical movements and cylinders for different tune sets.

6. Check the Shapes & Designs

Old Reuge Music Box with a Christmas ball shape

Now, I agree that most of the 1900s Reuge boxes had square or cuboidal sides. But by the 1950s, there were molded hearts or spherical forms too! So, let’s check their resale prices:

Reuge Music Box ShapesEstimated Price
Rectangular, Square & Cuboidal$500 – 3000
Cylindrical & Round$300 – 2000
Heart-shaped & Abstract Music Boxes$100 – 700
Sphere & Oval$100 – 500
Birdcage Shape$700 – 4000

7. Observe the Colors

It’s not only about the shape! Even a Reuge music box’s color changes its value drastically. The old, pre-1900s models had wood walls, while the 1900s ones used black or white paint. And then, by the 1950s, we had red and green boxes, too!

Here’s a list of different colored musical boxes with their estimated prices:

Reuge Music Box ColorsEstimated Value
Black, White & Gray$200 – 1500
Brown & Beige$400 – 2000
Metallic Gold & Silver$700 – 4000
Warm Colors – Red & Yellow$100 – 800
Cool Colors – Blue & Green$300 – 1000

Get antique music boxes with old & handmade oxidized, lacquer or oil paint strokes for a good value.

6 Rarest & Most Valuable Reuge Music Boxes to Find!

Rare & Precious Reuge Music Boxes

Do you know some unique Rosewood or Celebrity-owned music boxes cost over $10,000? Crazy, isn’t it? Well, that’s because they might be from some exclusive series that’s rare today! So don’t forget to check the Reuge box’s history and base tags!

Rare Reuge Music BoxesLast Resale Value
Reuge Dolce Vita – 15 note melody$13,700
Johann Strauss Interchangeable Music Box$8,500
Handmade 50-note Swiss Music Box$7,000
Dauphin Crystal Music Box$6,000
Reuge Music Tissot with Pocket watch$5,700
Green enameled Silver Egg music box$5,000

How Do You Clean an Old Reuge Music Box?

Ideally, an old Reuge box doesn’t need any cleaning – not with any cleaners or soap. Just dust the dirt and cobwebs with a wide-toothed brush and wipe it clean with a dry cloth.

Can You Oil an Old Reuge Music Box?

Avoid using oil or any common lubricants on your old Reuge box’s gears, as they may clog its system and disturb the tunes. Instead, use normal Aerosol lubricants like Alum-a-Lub.

How Long Does a 72-Note Reuge Music Box Play For?

A 72-note Reuge music box usually plays for 6-7 minutes. But the well-maintained or rust-free ones can even play for up to 10 minutes!

Now that you have our guide, I am sure you’ll be able to identify and appraise an old Reuge box yourself. So, start by identifying the type and then move on to the details like age and materials. Also, check the tags and stamps for any dates, tune names, or rare marks!

And if you want to learn about more musical antiques like ‘an old mandolin’ or ‘piano,’ join us now!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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  1. ! have a Reuge 5-cylinder music box with a #305 in the base plate. I may have purchased it in the 1980’s. Label states “Interchangeable 72 lames 15 airs” Strauss, Mozart, Tziachowsky, etc. Any thoughts as to its value? It is in perfect condition.
    Thank you