The Amazing Expanding-Contracting Jello Record (1914)

So, who needs a pantograph? According to this 1914 Talking Machine World article, a box of gelatin, a little formaldehyde, and some plaster should work just fine if you need to scale-up or scale-down a master. Might be fun to try at home…


Play Discs on Your Cylinder Phonograph: The Devineau Biophone (Cleveland, 1907)

From The Talking Machine World. Have any of these contraptions survived?


The Antique Phonograph Gallery • U-S Cylinder Phonographs (1912)

The 1912 U-S Phonograph line, from The Talking Machine World:

UE-E_phonos-1912If you’re a U-S Everlasting cylinder fan, be sure to check out Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography. It’s an ARSC award-winner, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.


Inside the U-S Everlasting Factory (1912)

The U-S Phonograph Company’s Cleveland factory in 1912, from The Talking Machine World. (We’ve not found any photos inside their New York studio just yet, but recently got  a lead on where some might be.)

If you’re a U-S Everlasting cylinder fan, be sure to check out Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography. It’s an ARSC award-winner, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.



The Antique Phonograph Gallery • Rapke Collapsible Horn (1907)

One of a number of collapsible horns marketed in the early 1900s; these ads date from 1907. Other collapsible or portable models included fabric horns with folding umbrella-type metal ribs, and sectionals that bolted together for use.


The Antique Phonograph Gallery • The Searchlight “Knock-Down” and “Junior” Horns (1907)

From various 1907 issues of The Talking Machine World


Battle of the Phonograph Horns: Searchlight vs. Hawthorne & Sheble (1906)

In 1906 two of the major phonograph horn manufacturers— Searchlight and Hawthorne & Sheble — battled it out in the pages of The Talking Machine World, each taking full-page color ads in several issues. By 1910 the horn business was in sharp decline, victim of the new internal horn machines.


“Talking Machine World” Announces Noble Sissle’s Emerson Deal (1921)

Emerson took a full-page ad in The Talking Machine World for April 15, 1921, to announce their exclusive signing of Noble Sissle. “Not only with colored folks is Sissle supremely popular,” Emerson boasted, “but with white audiences also, for there is not a theatre where he appears that he does not prove a magnet.”

sissle-blake-tmwInterestingly, the ad makes no mention of Emerson having signed Eubie Blake — the other half of the famous “Shuffle Along” team, who provided the sole accompaniment to Sissle on many of the Emerson releases. (He can be seen at the piano in this photo; personnel aren’t named in the ad). The Sizzling Syncopators didn’t make an appearance on Emerson until Sissle’s third release for that company. Here’s one of the less-often heard Sissle & Blake selections from approximately a year later:


NOBLE SISSLE (piano by EUBIE BLAKE): Boo Hoo Hoo (You’re Gonna Cry When I’m Gone)

New York: c. January 1922
Released April 1922
Emerson 10512  (mx. 42129 – take # not visible)

Takes 2 and 3 were confirmed as issued by members of the Record Research associates. Discographical details for all of Sissle’s and Blake’s Emerson recordings can be found in Emerson Records: A History & Discography (a 2014 ARSC Award for Excellence nominee), available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

U-S Everlasting Flex-Arm Phonograph Ad (1910)

From the September 1910 Talking Machine World:

U-S Everlasting phonograph and cylinder ad (1910)Be sure to check out Indestructible & U-S Everlasting Cylinders: A History and Cylinderography (Kurt Nauck & Allan Sutton), winner of ARSC’s 2012 Certificate of Merit for Historic Label Research — available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

Indestructible & U-S Everlasting Cylinders

More Phonograph Gadgets: Ravenskilde Talking Machine Starter, The Tiz-It, Oliver’s All-Tones

From 1908 issues of The Talking Machine World
(Mainspring Press collection)

Aretino’s (and Busy Bee’s) Arthur J. O’Neill — From the August 1909 “Talking Machine World”

The Talking Machine World for August 1909 provided a rare look at Arthur J. O’Neill, a leader in the premium-scheme market. O’Neill offered free or deeply discounted phonographs to customers who purchased a specified number of records. His first phono-related venture was the Busy Bee line, marketed through his O’Neill-James Company; Aretino was launched after Busy Bee became entangled in two of its suppliers’ legal problems.

In a variation on the old “razor-and-blade” ploy, O’Neill had his machines equipped with various impediments to thwart the use of ordinary discs, creating a captive audience for the matching records. For the Aretino line O’Neill patented a massive three-inch “spindle,” leaving the record label little more than a thin ribbon around the gaping hole. In the August 1909 TMW, O’Neill hinted that a more conventional line of records might be in the offing:

The idea never came to fruition. Aretino faded away following O’Neill’s death in 1915, and in 1916 it was merged with O’Neill-James and the Johns brothers’ Standard-Harmony-United operation to form the Consolidated Talking Machine (Chicago). Some leftover Aretino discs found their way into the hands of the obscure Duplex Record Company, which filled the holes  and covered up the patch with a new label that was cut away at the bottom to reveal the original text (photos courtesy of Kurt Nauck):


For more on O’Neill, the Johns brothers, and the Chicago premium-scheme labels, check out A Phonograph in Every Home: The Evolution of the American Recording Industry, 1900-1919, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.


Phonograph Horns: Andrews Veneered vs. Music Master Solid Wood (1908)

Wooden phonograph horns were all the rage when these Talking Machine World ads appeared in 1908. W. D. Andrews made cheapness a virtue with their line of veneered horns, while Music Master stressed quality with their solid oak, mahogany, and spruce models. Modern collectors don’t particularly revere veneer, but the solid-wood Music Masters continue to command a premium.

The Miraphone and Reginaphone Phonograph/Music Box Combinations

Regina offered a tempting lineup of combination phonograph/music boxes in this 1908 Talking Machine World ad. The Regina name was first registered for use on these machines on May 14, 1906.

The imported Miraphone, also shown in a 1908 TMW ad, was  manufactured by or for Mermod Freres (Ste. Croix, Switzerland). The company filed a U.S. trademark application as early as December 6, 1903, claiming use of the Miraphone names on records and phonographs (but not specifically phonograph/music box combos) since September of that year.