The AMI Continental Jukebox : A Vintage Classic

Posted by Jess 29 JULY 2015
cool stuff

When we think of jukeboxes, we think of vintage classics like the AMI Continental (now in our showroom) or the Wurlitzer 1015. Vintage jukeboxes have become the next big trend amongst collectors, probably due to the fact that they really are timeless machines and make us feel very nostalgic.

Jukeboxes like these are a must have for all games room owners, after all a games room wouldn’t be complete without a unique sound system. Our most recent vintage jukebox on display in our showroom is the AMI Continental, the fact that this machine has appeared in the classic film Wayne’s World makes it an even more cool addition to your games room! It’s vibrant blue and gold colour definitely makes it a showstopper. 

AMI Continental Jukebox

Jukebox History

In 1890, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold invented the first ever phonograph. The nickel-in-the-slot design was an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph which was made from oak, it had no amplification and users had to listen to the music through one of four listening tubes. In the 1900’s, the phonograph became the main source of popular music and mostly played classical and large-scale orchestral tracks.

There’s a lot of debate into how the term ‘jukebox’ came around, but one of the main theories suggests that its derived from the popular use of the phrase ‘juke joint’ for bars and clubs which came from the African word ‘joog’ meaning disorderly and rowdy. 

During World War Two, everyone became poor due to the fact that most of the USA’s money was being spent on weapons for the war, so jukebox production came to a big halt, The aftermath of the war spiked a passion for glamour and wealth in America. Everyone became more wealthy, so sales increased rapidly. Jukeboxes were considered a true reflection of the amount of money people had, so owning one of these classic pieces was a very popular trend. After this period of time, they became even more sought after in diners and bars where the jukebox became a prize centrepiece. They would even make their money back on the jukeboxes because they were coin operated by this point. People would pay to load their favourite tracks onto the jukebox whilst they were out with their friends.

As fashion trends and music choice has changed over time, so did the style of these machines. From oak to coloured plastic and shiny chrome, from squared shapes to more oval ones - one thing will always stay the same, the jukebox will always be loved.

The History of AMI Jukeboxes

The company started out in 1909, by beginning to create coin-operated self-playing pianos under the ‘National Automatic Music Company’ name. The pianos were one of the most high-profile campaigns in the 1900’s and were mostly bought to be kept at home, they were used to entertain guests. In 1925, the company split in two. The piano manufacturers now operated under the ‘National Piano Manufacturing Co.’  whilst the distribution sector became the ‘Automatic Musical Instrument Co.’ - therefore, AMI was born. 

They created their first jukebox in 1927 which was called the National Automatic Selection Phonograph, it became a very popular tradition to have one of the machines playing during social gatherings or events. AMI continued to make jukeboxes throughout the decades, they managed to keep their customers interested with fresh new designs which included their wallbox jukeboxes (1932), the iconic Top Flight (1936) and the famous Model A which was better known as the Mother of Plastic (1946).

In 1962, AMI were bought out by Rowe AC Services, but they continued to be one of the only manufacturers to keep making jukeboxes throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s.  

The Continental Jukebox

In the 1960’s, sci-fi films like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Time Machine were very popular and may have been a strong influence for the design of the Continental. It wouldn’t surprise us, films and art have been a strong influence on jukeboxes throughout the years.The distinctive domed glass and curved selection holders of the vintage jukebox shows a strong sci-fi influence within the design.

We currently have an AMI Continental on display in our Bristol showroom! We highly recommend coming into our showroom to admire this beautiful machine, seeing as it's fully working. We already have a selection of vinyl records ready for you to select, you can even have a go and play some tracks if you wish! 

It's in fantastic working condition due to the fact that it was originally made for commercial use, so the manufacturers wanted it to be able to last forever. They made sure the design was very sturdy to ensure that this would happen. Our vintage jukebox has a few minor signs of wear, but considering that its over 50 years old, it isn't surprising. We offer the Continental in its original, classic condition. 

The jukebox plays 7inch records at 45 RPM, so any vinyl collectors will love this design. Its 165cm tall, 76cm wide and 71cm deep - making it a reasonably sized jukebox suitable for any sized games room. It can easily fit in with any other pieces you may have, whether is be a pool table or some arcade machines, it would make a fantastic centrepiece. 

If you would like to add this stunning piece to your games room or to your home, don’t hesitate to contact us at Home Leisure Direct. The AMI Continental Jukebox currently in stock and is available to view/purchase on our website and in our showroom. It comes with free delivery and installation (worth £200), which also includes a 30 day warranty on the product which covers parts and labour. You can call our sales team for free on 0800 622 6464 to speak to a member of our expert team who will be able to answer any questions or queries that you may have.

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