I've posted in the past about this interesting variety of mechanical toys which were powered by a rotating record. I'm not exactly sure how this one works but in others the toy is mounted on top of the record player and a friction wheel behind the figure rides along the edge of record album causing it to "dance" to the music.
It may seem like folly to place a dancing figure on top of a delicate stylus and record. One little mishap and the needle might be broken or the record scratched. The existence and popularity of this type of toy says something about the time in which it was created. Here are a few thoughts on the matter:
1 - The early phonographs were among some of the first automatic music machines to enter the home, but was auditory medium only. The addition of the mechanical figures added an interesting visual element.
2 - Most early phonographs were spring-driven, suggesting that electric motors were not yet commonplace. The relatively rare motor in the gramophone, Victrola, or phonograph could do double-duty by also powering the dancer or boxers.
3 - Toys often represent popular trends. I expect the ones shown here are no exception. Dancing and boxing were probably both popular forms of live entertainment at the time.
The toys shown here dates to the early 20th century and were made by National Co, USA. The dancing figure is interchangeable with the boxers. The set is currently up for auction on eBay.
Here's where you can learn more about this set of phonograph-powered mechanical toys.[ Thanks McDrunk! ]