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 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.
This unusual variation was unrecognized by collectors until recent years. Since then, six of these polished BS coin-ops have been documented to exist, all with serial numbers within a narrow range of a few hundred. (No 'normal' finish machines are known within this block.) It is likely there are more out there waiting to be discovered. (See the June 2018 issue of The Antique Phonograph journal for further 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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