COLUMBIA TYPE 'BS' COIN-OP - NICKELED AND POLISHED - 1899

The first Columbia Type 'BS' coin-op was introduced in 1898 and featured a case with a routed horizontal decoration and no decal. This was soon replaced with an updated version with plain panels and a traditional Graphophone banner decal on the front. The angular, open coin chute of the original model was changed to a more elegant curved design with closed front, and a minor change was made to the carriage return. This proved to be an extremely popular model, by far the most successful of all coin-operated phonographs.

The BS shown here, however, is an extremely rare variation: the entire mechanism is heavily plated in bright nickel and mirror-polished throughout, including the gears, governor balls, and even the screws.

In mid-1898 Columbia had offered a nickeled and polished Eagle priced at $3 more than the normal Eagle. It was certainly more striking than conventional Eagles, which were made of brushed steel with only a few lightly nickeled parts, however it seems that few people were willing to pay an additional 25% for a little 'bling' so the nickeled and polished Eagle was discontinued within a year. Apparently, this left Columbia with some unsold inventory, which was subsequently (and without fanfare) liquidated by installing the leftover mechanisms in a few BS machines.

Currently, only four of these polished BS coin-ops are documented to exist, all with serial numbers within a narrow range of a few hundred. This was clearly a very short production run. (See the June 2018 issue of The Antique Phonograph journal for details.) Although not officially given a special designation, some collectors have taken to calling this "BSP," referring back to Columbia's in-house designation of the nickeled Eagle as "BXP" (with 'P' indicating 'polished').

With the lid open, the bright nickel is obvious -- and stunning.





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