metal (mesh, handles, circuitry, food box material)
plastic (piano keys material)
overall: 105 cm x 142 cm x 88 cm; 41 11/32 in x 55 29/32 in x 34 21/32 in
United States: Arkansas, Hot Springs
This carnival game consists of a wooden crate painted blue, gold, and yellow with a metal mesh window on the right front and a cash box left of it. A cord extends from the back. Two metal handles for carrying the object are on both the right and left sides. Opening a door on the left side reveals two metal boxes. The back one has various electrical cords and a rotary switch. The front one appears to have held food.
A door on the back opens into the main compartment. It has a floor partly covered with mesh, as well as a toy piano with a lamp on it. The left side of the compartment has a dispenser for food.
A mark on the cash box reads: PIANO DUCK (/) TYPE D.
The piano-playing duck was manufactured by the firm of Animal Behavior Enterprises, a company established in the late 1940s by students of the behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner. In use, it included not only the crate, piano, and lamp, but a duck or chicken. The staff of ABE trained the duck to turn on the lamp and then play “several rippling cadenzas” before the lamp went off to signal the end of the performance. This example of the game was displayed in Massachusetts, first at the Aquarium of Cape Cod (also called Aqua Circus and ZooQuarium) in West Yarmouth and then at a private animal preserve / rehabilitation center in Westport. The Westport concern was operated by Damase (Jiggs) Giguere.
For a related object, see 2004.0075.01. For related documentation see 2015.3170.