Friday, July 11, 2008

The Phonograph With A Soul

Thomas Edison began developing a disc phonograph player and discs after cylinders peaked in popularity in 1905. His aim was to produce a superior-sounding disc that would outperform rivals RCA and Columbia. Edison's phonograph and discs were designed to be an entire system, incompatible with other discs or disc players. The phonographs and discs were touted as being acoustically better than RCA and Columbia. Edison claimed that his records could be played 1,000 times without wear.

Here is a photograph of my 1918 Edison Disc Phonograph. Design of this H-19 Hepplewhite model began at the end of World War I. It was unveiled at a trade show in Detroit in March of 1919. The initial price was $155, but the price gradually rose to $167.50. Models were made until 1922 and unsold H19 models were still available as late as 1927.

My phonograph was originally purchased at Drennen Piano Company in Orlando, Florida between 1919 and 1927. One day, as I was cleaning it, I discovered a shelf underneath the turntable, and on that shelf I found a small white half-filled jar of Edison Grease. Laying beside the jar was a black brush with the piano company's name and address printed on it. The Edison logo was also on the brush, along with the slogan, "The Phonograph With A Soul."

My Diamond disc collection titles list is long and probably boring to most, but the discs I have were recorded between 1912 and 1923, and the artists are American Symphony Orchestra, Andre Benoist, Anna Case, Betsy Lane Shepherd, Billy Murray, Calvary Choir, Charles Hart, Chester Gaylord, Collins And Harlan, Edna White, Elizabeth Spencer, Elliot Shaw, Ernest L. Stevens Trio, Ford Hawaiians, Fred Bacon, Fred East, Fred Hager, Fred Van Eps, Frederick Wheeler, George Wilton Ballard, Harvey WIlson, Helen Clark, Jaudas' Society Orchestra, John Young, Lewis James, Lyric Male Quartet, Maggie Teyte, Metropolitan Quartet, Mixed Quartet, Orpheus Male Chorus, Rae Eleanor Ball, S.W. Smith, U.S.N. And Bugle Squad, Sibyl Sanderson Fagan, Thomas Chalmers, Vasa Prihoda, Venetian Instrumental Quartet, Vernon Archibald, Waikiki Hawaiian Orchestra and Walter Van Brunt. They were among the very first recording artists ever.

Click here to go to my Edison Speaking Phonograph Company MySpace page

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