Early Columbia Cylinder Phonograph Outfits (Chicago Projecting Company, c. 1901 – 1902)

Some tantalizing ads for Columbia cylinder outfits from a rare catalog issued by the Chicago Projecting Company (225 Dearborn Street). In addition to projectors, films, stereoptions and slides, and related items, the company stocked a wide array of Columbia and and Victor merchandise.

The catalog is undated but includes Victor Monarch “pre-matrix” discs that were recorded as late as October 1901, suggesting a late 1901 or early 1902 publication. By that time, high-volume molded cylinders were beginning to enter the market, and the ear-tubes, oversized “exhibition horns,” and Concert-type cylinders offered here were on the verge of obsolescence.

One page implies that the company was making its own cylinders, picturing an unbranded cylinder and bragging that “our records…made with much greater care than the ordinary records,” while another shows a Concert-type cylinder in a special Chicago Projecting Company box (but with a Columbia lid). In fact, they were all Columbia cylinders, using Columbia’s catalog numbers.

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Odds & Ends from the Recording Industry’s Infancy (1891-1893)

Sarah Bernhardt recording in Bettini’s “Phonographic Salon”
(New York, 1892)

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Members of the United States Marine Band recording for Columbia; at least six recording machines appear to be in use, each producing a master from which copies will be transcribed for sale. (Washington DC, 1891)

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Getting their nickel’s worth (1891)

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A gallery of first-generation recording artists. Aside from Russell Hunting and Len Spencer (shown here as “Leon”), all retired from recording in the early 1900s, if not earlier. (1892)

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No electricity? No problem! Just hook up this Edison water-powered model to your kitchen sink. (No running water? OK, well there’s a treadle-driven model…) (1892)

Our Final Title Now in Stock • Vintage Phonograph Advertisements 1895-1925

Announcing the final Mainspring Press publication:

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Vintage Phonograph Advertising
presents some of the most interesting phono-related ads of the acoustic era, covering products from the commonly encountered to the impossibly rare.

You’ll find the famous makes here — the Berliners, Edisons, Columbias, Victors, Zonophones, and the like — but also a fascinating array of long-forgotten (and now highly collectible) products, in more than 280 professionally restored black-and-white ads with informative text.

Chapters include: Phonographs for the Home • Phonograph–Music Box and Phonograph–Player Piano Combinations • Import and Export Phonographs • Coin-Operated and Other Automatic Phonographs • Special-Use Machines • Phonograph Horns, Gadgets, and Attachments • Phonograph and Record Cabinets • Cylinder and Disc Records

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To order, visit the Mainspring Press website.
Mainspring Press titles will remain available online through February 2017, subject to availability. Please note that stock is running low on certain titles, and none will be reprinted once current inventory is sold.

 

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Oddball Record Updates • 1907 Mercury Record; Indestructible Dictaphone Training Cylinder

A couple of unusual special-use records that we’ve not seen before, courtesy of Tim Brooks (Mercury) and David Giovannoni (Indestructible). If anyone has other examples of these, or more information on them, we’d like to hear from you.

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MERCURY RECORD (1907)

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The Mercury Record above obviously has nothing to do with the well-known label that was founded in 1945. It was made by American Graphophone (Columbia) for the Electric Novelty and Talking Machine Company. The company exhibited telegraphic equipment at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, although it was not formally incorporated until April 4, 1905. It was chartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, by George R. Beach (a prominent bankruptcy attorney who served as a receiver in at least two phonograph-related cases), Walter P. Phillips, and Thaddeus R. McCartie.

So, what to make of the Bridgeport address? On closer investigation, Electric Novelty’s official business address (15 Exchange Place, Jersey City) turns out to have been the office of George R. Beach, an unlikely venue for this sort of operation. The consistent use of the Bridgeport address (where Columbia had its factory), and the specially customized “conditions” sticker (below), suggest that Columbia was handling all operations and fulfillment for Beach, or possibly had even closer ties to his company.

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Numbers embossed under the label are T503-1-1, and M-1700-1-1. Tim notes, “That’s apparently a Columbia ‘M’ number, and it falls into a blank section in Bill [Bryant]’s M-number log. Judging by other M-numbers I would date it as 1907 or 1908, around the end of the period in which M-numbers were used. It’s embossed rather than hand-written like most M-numbers. The record doesn’t seem to have been assigned a standard Columbia number of the period (which were in the 3000s). This would seem to add more weight to the theory that the M-numbers were the true matrix number during this period, and the 3000s were in fact catalog numbers assigned after the fact.”

The copyright filings below, from the Library of Congress’ Catalog of Copyright Entries for July–December 1907, mesh nicely with Tim’s 1907–1908 estimate for the Mercury label:
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At the end of 1912, the Governor of New Jersey declared Electric Novelty & Talking Machine to be in default after having failed to pay its 1910 taxes. Apparently things were resolved; the company was still listed as an active corporation in the 1914 register, and the ad above appeared in May 1915. The “Diamond Disk” notation is puzzling; clearly, this was still a Columbia-affiliated venture, based on the photo. Could there have been an Edison Diamond Disc version as well, or was that just an ad writer’s flight of fancy? (We suspect the latter, but will check our copies of the Edison files.)

 

INDESTRUCTIBLE DICTAPHONE RECORD

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Many collectors are familiar with Edison’s Ediphone training cylinders, but this is the first such cylinder we’ve seen for the competing Dictaphone. It’s a standard 4″ celluloid Indestructible, with 150 grooves per inch (as was usual for dictating machines; standard “entertainment” cylinders were 100-gpi (two-minute) or 200-gpi (four-minute). Like this example, the first Indestructibles had raised lettering on the rim, suggesting a very early Indestructible master. However, David notes that it has “the look and feel of a late 4-minute Indestructible.” Unfortunately, it didn’t have its original box; has anybody seen one?

 

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The Dictaphone began life as the Columbia Commercial  Graphophone, an example of which is shown above, mounted in Gerson cabinet. The Dictaphone name was first registered as a trademark, by the Columbia Phonograph Co., Gen’l., on September 18, 1907; the first Indestructible cylinders were released a little over a month later.

The Columbia–Indestructible affiliation was cemented (for a time, anyway) in 1908, when the former bought the latter outright. There’s much more to that story, of course, which can be found in Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderopgraphy (Nauck & Sutton), still available from Mainspring Press while supplies last.

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The Playlist • U-S Everlasting Cylinder Favorites (1910–1912)

cover_indestructible-x200For a detailed history of U-S Everlasting and its complete output, with 24 pages of color illustrations, be sure to check out Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

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GIUSEPPE PIMAZZONI: Carmen — Canzone del Toreador

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released 1911
U-S Everlasting Grand Opera Record 21133  (4-minute cylinder)

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VESS L. OSSMAN (banjo): St. Louis Tickle  

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. January 1911
U-S Everlasting 318  (2-minute cylinder)

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FRED VAN EPS (banjo; piano by Albert Benzler): Gondolier / Temptation Rag 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. July 1911
U-S Everlasting 1260  (4-minute cylinder)

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CAL STEWART: Uncle Josh’s New Years Pledge

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released late 1912
U-S Everlasting 1598 (4-minute cylinder)

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ARTHUR COLLINS & BYRON G. HARLAN: I’m Going Back to Dixie
[a.k.a. I Want to Be in Dixie] 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. April 1911
U-S Everlasting 453 (2-minute cylinder)

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BOB ROBERTS: Gee, But I Like Music with My Meals 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released Summer 1912
Lakeside 1498  (4-minute cylinder)

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BOB ROBERTS: My Own Adopted Child 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. January 1912
Lakeside 1385  (4-minute cylinder)

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The Antique Phonograph Gallery: U-S Everlasting Cylinder Phono Advertisements (1912)

Some 1912 Talking Machine World advertisements for U-S Everlasting phonographs and cylinders. U-S Phonograph’s turbulent history, and details of its complete cylinder-record output, can be found in the ARSC Award–winning Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

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The Vintage Phonograph Gallery • Electric-Motor Columbia Grafonola (1915)

This ad for the electric-motor Columbia Grafonola dates to 1915. Large urban areas had been wired for electricity by that time, but rural electrification wouldn’t be completed until the Great Depression. That factor, combined with the steep prices of these machines, apparently limited their sales. They’re not seen very frequently today, and when they do turn up, they’re sometimes missing their motors, some of which no doubt were “repurposed” after the machines had outlived their usefulness.

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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.

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