Russell Hunting Goes to Jail (1896)

Russell Hunting was a major figure in the early recording industry — an editor of The Phonoscope (an early trade paper), a prolific recording artist both here and in England, and eventually, the technical director for Pathé’s New York studio.

He also made raunchy records that he sold under the counter at his Clinton Place studio and shipped to shady establishments from Coney Island to California in the mid-1890s. They were colorful enough that they caught the attention of Anthony Comstock of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, who spent two years trying to identify the culprit.

The story’s been told elsewhere, but never as well as in the New York World‘s tongue-in-cheek account (below). Hunting went to jail for three months.

 

 

 

A Gallery of Pioneer Recording Artists (1898)

This gallery of early recording artists appeared in The Phonoscope for July 1898. Although touted as Columbia stars (on cylinders; Columbia discs were still several years away), they also recorded prolifically for other companies. Several, including Quinn and Gaskin,  ran display ads in the same paper, offering their services to any and all.

The “Mr. Emerson” mentioned in the first paragraph was Victor Hugo Emerson, later better known as the manufacturer of Emerson Records. Steve Porter and Russell Hunting would also come to play important roles in the early recording industry, the latter as a Pathé executive.

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