Len Spencer Arrested (1897)

Russell Hunting wasn’t the only recording-industry pioneer to be arrested in the 1890s. In March 1897, Len Spencer and two of the Emerson brothers were taken into custody in Newark, New Jersey, charged with stealing cylinders from the United States Phonograph Company.

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Len Spencer’s Phonoscope biography, 1898

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The trouble began in early 1897, after Spencer and the Emersons (Victor H., George E., and Clyde D.) resigned from United States Phonograph to work for the American Graphophone Company (Columbia).

According to the charges, Spencer, George Emerson, and Clyde Emerson took a substantial number of records from U.S. Phonograph, which they allegedly sold to a “rival concern.” The company was not identified in the press reports, but quite likely it was Columbia, which had a history of copying other companies’ cylinders and marketing them as their own (see, for example, American Graphophone Co. v. United States Phonograph Co., et al., U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, In Equity No. 4005, an 1898 case in which Calvin Child confirmed the practice).

Victor Emerson was not charged. Details of the arrest were reported by the New York Sun on March 9, 1897:

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But unlike Hunting, who went to jail for three months for making and peddling “obscene” records, Spencer and the two Emersons  escaped unscathed. On March 25, 1897, the prosecutor declared that the state had no case, and defendants were discharged.

A few weeks later, Spencer formally announced his employment by Columbia:

 

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Spencer didn’t remain exclusive to Columbia for long, and by the early 1900s he had reclaimed his former status as one of the most prolific studio free-lancers. Victor Emerson went on to serve long and well as Columbia’s chief recording engineer before resigning in 1914 to launch his own label.

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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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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.

US-E_factory-1912

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