Thomas Kraemer’s spring-loaded tone arm was featured on Hawthorne & Sheble’s Star phonographs beginning in 1907. A key feature was a small coiled spring that was said to propel the reproducer, thus supposedly skirting Victor’s Berliner patent, which specified that the record groove served that purpose. The courts weren’t swayed by that argument, finding the spring was too weak to serve any real purpose. Victor eventually forced Hawthorne & Sheble into bankruptcy, over unrelated patent-infringement claims in the Starola enclosed-horn machines, in 1909. There’s much more on Hawthorne & Sheble in A Phonograph in Every Home, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.
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.
If you’ve ever wondered how those circular dealer ads ended up on the inner rims of 78s, here’s the answer (from The Talking Machine World for November 1922) — the Impresad. In our admittedly very informal survey, these stamps seem to turn up most often on Brunswick, which also had its main office on South Wabash, just three blocks away from W. H. Wade. The the device was handled in Canada by the Musical Merchandise Sales Co., Brunswick’s Canadian distributor, and there’s even an uncanny resemblance between the two company’s logos.
Vox LPs are well-known to classical collectors, but the German company had attempted to enter the American market long before the high-fidelity era. The ads below, from The Talking Machine World for November and December 1923, announced the company’s first arrival in the U.S.
Although Vox made a high-quality record, most of its artists were unfamiliar to the average American. For their early U.S. advertisements, Vox apparently settled on Feodor Chaliapin’s daughter Lydia as the one name that Americans might readily recognize. The recognition factor, probably coupled with some lingering anti-German sentiment, seems have doomed Vox’s attempt from the start. After failing to attract much attention, the Vox Corporation of America was dissolved on March 11, 1927. Vox’s second American venture, launched in the late 1940s, fared far better.
We’ve seen just one example of the a Vox domestic red-label disc (pressed from a foreign master). Although Vox called them “Red Seals” in the ad below, that name was a registered trademark of the Victor Talking Machine Company, and it does not appear on the label of the inspected copy. We’ve yet to see a Vox “Green Seal.” The domestic label design differs markedly from the designs used on Vox’s foreign-made pressings, which were exported to the U.S. for a time and still turn up on occasion.
This stunning double-sided ad ran in the May 1918 Talking Machine World. Paramount had recently introduced 10″ discs to replace its initial 9″ offerings; the last of the latter appear in the No. 6 Supplement, alongside the 10″ offerings. At this early stage, the trademark eagle perched on a phonograph rather than the more familiar globe.
The large structure to the left is the Paramount pressing plant at Grafton, Wisconsin, a converted water-powered mill that already had a long and varied history when this ad appeared — you’ll find the whole fascinating story of the Grafton complex in the new expanded edition of Alex van der Tuuk’s Paramount’s Rise and Fall. The smaller structure to the right would eventually house the studio in which the likes of Son House and Skip James recorded.
In 1918, however, Paramount was recording exclusively in New York, and doing its best to imitate Columbia and Victor. Note the usual NYC studio free-lancers — Henry Burr, Collins & Harlan, Louise & Ferera, Arthur Fields, Grace Kerns, the Shannon Four, et al. Even some of the portraits are the same as those used in the major companies’ catalogs. Fortunately for posterity, the powers at NYRL eventually realized there wasn’t much money to be made by following the pack, and instead turned their attention to the new race-record market (although there wasn’t much money to be made there either, as it would turn out).
From The Talking Machine World. (Text at the bottom edge is damaged and has been cropped from this scan.)
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.
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.
From various 1907 issues of The Talking Machine World