The Ristaucrat Collection
is not a well known name in phonograph and Jukebox
circles. As these few high-quality, heavy duty-cycle
machines survive the years, they will become more collectible
valuable. There are several varieties of Ristaucrats including specialty models.
But there are only
three basic types of Ristaucrats that are now often found in phonograph
collections, cellars, barns and other antique hideouts.
these three types of record players has the unique restacking
feature developed and popularized by Ristaucrat that lifts the
played stack of 12 records back to the top of the spindle to be
45 coin-operated, music box; table top
Ristaucrat's most popular coin-operated juke box. It plays a
stack of 12 45 RPM records, has a powerful amplifier and an
impressive, highly-efficient, 6 inch mid-range speaker.
Click the photos
for more details.
S●45 Selective coin-operated, table or bar top juke box.
A popular successor to the Ristaucrat
45, but manufacturing and distribution volumes were much lower.
The record selector option added considerable complexity and cost to
this over-engineered machine which had a price tag close to the low-end of the then emerging full size 45 RPM juke box which has a much
larger selection of music, better amplifier and better speakers.
Click photos or images for
is a typical
Advertisment for Business Opportunity with the Ristaucrat Company.
The 12 Record Selective 45 RPM Phono allowed customers
to make a push-button selection of from 1 to 24 45 rpm records.
The brightly colored eye-catching cabinet has a Plexiglass cover so
that customers can see their record selection(s) move thru the stack
of records. The mechanicals are enclosed in a hand-finished
After the stack of records has been played, they're restacked and
subsequently cycled through until the next selection is made.
Customers can also choose a cancel button.
The powerful amplifier drives two speakers, with an option for up to
The credit unit counts up to twenty plays. The owner can select
5 cent or 10 cent chutes. This ad touts the 'simplicity of the
mechanism' but my experience is this is perhaps one of the most
complex but surprisingly reliable mechanisms made for this purpose.
To the right is a typical business opportunity advertisment
designed to encourage
entrepreneurial prospects to contact Ristaucrat Inc. to join a large network of commissioned sales agents that place the machines in
service at a variety of local establishments such as the local soda
fountain, bar, night club, laundro-mat and more.
This ad says that over 5000 of these Ristaucrats have been put in
service around this country.
The ad also describes great earnings from the "Highest Commissions
Ever" with UPPER BRACKETS earnings by simply installing two
Clearly Ristaucrat Inc. took some editorial license in describing
the great business opportunity and success that independent sales
agents and the company were achieving. Over the horizon, full
size, low cost, 45 rpm juke boxes would soon flood the market as
manufacturers such as Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, AMI (Automatic
Musical Instruments), Seeburg and The Rock-Ola Corporation began to
ramp production and aggressively market their jukeboxes.
According to jukebox industry expert
Gert J. Almind, by 1954 a total of not less than 200 million
45's were sold in American and in the early 1950's about 60 million
record were used annually by jukebox operators.
In its early development years, Ristaucrat Inc. would pursue new
sales channels by advertizing and exhibiting at the annual MOA
(Music Operators of America) international trade show. This
was for many years the largest convention of coin-op and jukebox
operators, the ideal place for any new product introduction each year.
The MOA (Music Operators of America) was formed in January 1948
when "68 jukebox owners from around the country banded together to
fight the repeal of the jukebox royalty exemption" which would have
dramatically cut into their profits. One of
their strongest arguments against the repeal was the jukebox
industry was in fact providing no-cost marketing and promotional
activities on behalf of the record producers.
Today, MOA is known as AMOA, the
Amusement & Music Operators Association.
The original MOA and annual trade show lives on and is well
attended. This next convention, the joint 2011 AAMA/AMOA
(American Amusement Machine Association and Amusement & Music
Operations Association) Amusement Expo will be held in February in Las Vegas,
Nevada at the Las Vegas at the Convention Center in February.
Dial-O-Matic 45 combination radio and phonograph, for home use
Having worked on
quite a few of these magnificent machines, I can attest that
Ristaucrat’s ads are accurate stating these machines are:
® PRECISION ENGINEERED – with the exactness of a watch & strength of a steel
brothers who were mechanical engineers must have had fun
‘over-engineering’ these reliable players. They were designed for
use in public places such as local soda-fountain/drug stores,
taverns or clubs, so it’s no surprise their mechanical designs assumed
a very high duty-cycle. It’s interesting that the same
engineering elegance and reliability was carried forward to the Ristaucrat Dial-O-Matic radio-phonograph combination designed for home use.
In the Vending Machines Section of the February
7th 1953 issue of The Billboard, a news story described Ristaucrat's plans to open a Chicago Office. It had to "make the
Chicago plunge" because of the increase in business caused by the
great demand for the Ristaucrat home phono-radio, the Dial-O-Matic.
"The grand opening of the new quarters will kick off the
introduction of the new floor model jukes boxes which Ristaucrat
Inc. is launching in the low-price field. One is a
24-selection box and the other is a 48-selection box.
Both will be 45 rpm mechanisms and will run about $300 and $400
The Dial-O-Matic is a radio-phonograph being produced for the home.
It sold for $99.50. Note that a radio phonograph selling
$99. in the early 1950's would cost roughly $800 in today's dollars, an expensive home
entertainment appliance for that time.
"The features of the Dial-O-Matic are new to the home phonograph
field. The machine will automatically restack the records
after the last one has been played. It has a replay button
whereby the operator can re-run a disc no mater what the disc is
playing. Another feature of the machine is the automatic radio
selector. If the operator wants to hear only five records (or
any given number) he may set the machine to play that amount of
records and when completed the radio turns on automatically".
these machines, on a few occasions I needed the help of a nearby
machine shop to reproduce hard-to-find parts such as a half gear
made of hardened steel, soft brass bushing center and two machine
screws that hold this gear firmly on the wheel shaft. This is
one of the most common problems I've found working on these
machines, the half-gear slips off and falls to the bottom of the
cabinet. Armed only
with copies of early patent schematics (as documentation is not
generally available) it was fun to watch the reaction at the local
machine shop. Modern day machinists say “this stuff is
high quality, well-engineered, labor-intensive work; we’d be out of
business today with this cost of such high quality materials and
Needless to say,
after completing the ‘standard rebuild’ described in the phonograph
details section, my Ristaucrat players continue to play with no
interruption and will likely outlast me. As the
most critical “likely to fail” mechanical components in these
machines are the rubber cam and idler wheels (which I replace
with neoprene) and the electrical wax capacitors are
replaced and updated to much longer-life modern capacitors, there’s
a good chance that my grandchildren (soon) could play these phonographs and optional AM radio when their
children (my great grandchildren) are born.
<-- Click to see instructions to rebuild
This section contains info on hard to find Ristaucrats
Several very collectable, hard to find Ristaucrats
are presented here:
Dial-O-Matic 45 record changer attachment.
Similar in concept
to RCA’s 45J and 45J2 stand-alone record changers, this model does
not have a built-in amplifier or radio.
This device would be
plugged into a radio, TV or other device that had an amplifier by
way of a standard RCA phono jack. Few
of these record changers were manufactured, so they are rare
and very collectable today. The record changer's cabinet was
made of blonde oak or mahogany veneer finshes.
Console Model A and Table Model A
Now let’s go back
to 1931, when the Ristaucrat Console Model A, and Table Model A
version coin-operated, 78 RPM, Automatic Electric (Selective)
phonograph were introduced.
Both of these models use the Smyth
The Console Model
A was a full size upright coin-op juke box, weighing in at 143
pounds, 49½ inches high, 20½ inches depth and 37½ inches wide. Cabinets were made of diamond matched butt
walnut panels with mahogany overlay doors giving it a nice two-tone
Targeting these machines
for hotel lobbies, night clubs and other
public places, the Model A was marketed as a player that challenged
all earlier records for earnings power.The
literature feature/benefits include:
® SIMPLER, MORE RELIABLE, QUICKER ACTION,
®GREATER VALUE, SWEETER TONE
® DIRECT DRIVE
– smooth, Failure-proof operation, record changed separately
® SUPER POWERED AMPLIFIER
– superb tone, no distortion, clarity, naturalness
® HIGH STANDARDS OF QUALITY –
improved pick-up &
Ristaucrat Table Model version introduced in 1931 dimensions: 20½ inches high, 20½ inches depth, 37½ inches wide.
Finally, click here for the reverse side of the Table & Console
Please contact me
if you have one of these models.
My most recent
addition to the Ristaucrat Family is this Model 200M what some
friends might call a real juke box as all my other machines are
small table top models. I don't own any large jukeboxes.
Weighing in at 148 pounds, 36 inches high,
31½ inches wide and 17½ depth. The machine built for the dance
studio can play both sides (100 selections) of 50 records that are
played on a ferris wheel configuration.
There are nine recording
segments, eight of the nine play five records (ten selections) and
the ninth segment plays ten records (twenty selections). These
segments could be genre’s or filled with the variety of the dances (Waltz,
Fox Trot, Polka, Rumba, Swing, Somba Mombo, Rock & Roll, Tango,
Mixed Dance) indicated on the button selectors.
It's reported only
fifty of these machines were manufactured by Atlas Manufacturing
Company under contract to Ristaucrat. Literature comments:
® FINGERTIP SELECTION
–nine styles of music, plays continuously until next
® 50 RECORDS 100 SELECTIONS, -
cancel any section instantly, simplicity of design
® DROP-TYPE RECORD CHANGER HAS BEEN ELIMINATED -
® THE FIRST & FINEST IN ITS FIELD, DESIGNED ESPECIALLY FOR DANCE STUDIOS
The one that got
away. This machine was a one-of-a-kind
prototype home version. It has two S·45 record changers, each
of which can count 18 free credits and play a 12 record stack,
repeating from 1 (12 plays) to 18 (216 plays) cycles before the
alternative changer takes over and plays its cycle in sequence.
This is the machine that got away; it came up for bid on eBay.
Unfortunately, I was outbid.
The photos show
two standard S·45 record changers with custom red and green dial
selectors. All other S 45 Ristaucrats use black dials with white
letters. No doubt these prototypes have some custom wiring and
This prototype is housed in what looks like a modified
RCA Victor floor model similar to an 811K.
is the last production Ristaucrat "Melodie Vendor" machine.
On February 17, 1966 Alfred and Arnold Ristau filed patent
3,369,086 for a record selector mechanism that is used to “control
the actuation of the coin and dispersing (sic) mechanism used in a
On December 1, 1966 Arnold and Alfred
Ristau filed their last patent, 3,374,925 for an Automatic Record
Dispenser to be marketed by Melodie Vendor Corporation, essentially
a vending machine that would play 45 rpm records and automatically
dispense the record to a buyer in an unsupervised situation.
The concept was Try before you Buy, where a customer could make one
or more selections, earn credit each time he tried a selection by
inserting a coin and then apply the try-credits to the suggested
$1.00 buy-price of the 45 rpm record. I have seen photos and
advertising for the Try before you Buy machine which has an
integrated record changer/player but have yet to see one of these in
any collection. Please let me know if you have one. Thus
far, the only models reported is the record dispenser version shown
above. I have seen only this photo of a dual cabinet version of the
above machine which is capable of dispensing
up to 450 45 rpm records. →
Advertisement for the Melodie Record Vender Dispenser.
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Family and Business please click the logo below:
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