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)

Harry Macdonough Recalls his Recording Career (1931)

John S. Macdonald — better known to record buyers as the tenor “Harry Macdonough” — led a dual life. He was one of the best-selling recording artists of the early 1900s, while at the same time working his way up the ladder at Victor, from studio manager to manager of artists and repertoire manager, and eventually, to sales manager. Here are some of his recollections, as recounted to Ulysses (Jim) Walsh in 1931. The letter was written just as Walsh was beginning to undertake the research that would culminate in his long-running “Pioneer Recording Artists” column for Hobbies magazine. For more on Macdonald’s remarkable career (much of which he downplays in his letter), see “Harry Macdonough, Victor’s Singing Executive” on the Mainspring Press website.

BAIN_macdonald-macdonough(Photo from the Bain Collection, Library of Congress. Letter from copies of the
Jim Walsh papers in the Bill Bryant collection, Mainspring Press.)

WALSH-PAPERS_macdonald-1931