Sunday 12 March 2017

Gold Moulded Records

With the news that vinyl is making a comeback and more and more people seem to be interested in it instead of all the digital options available today, I was really happy to discover this version of vinyl in our museum!  Cylindrical records - another invention brought to us by the great Thomas Edison.  He is credited with inventing the phonograph and he also created these cylinders to record music. We have four of these cylindrical records in the museum and each one is about 4.5" high and 2.5" wide.

On the top of the record in the green cardboard case, it reads "This record should run at 160 revolutions per minute - not faster or slower."  The number "70" is on the top with "Grand American Fantasia (Theo.Bendix) New York Military Band" underneath it.  The cannister is very light and on the inside is lined with felt to protect the record.  

On the cannister is Thomas Edison's picture as well as the following:  Made and sold by the NATIONAL PHONOGRAPH CO. at Orange, N.J., U.S.A.  Patented in the United States Oct. 1, 1901, Feb. 14, 1905, Feb. 27, 1906, June 4, 1907, March. 3, 1908."  Then the same kind of information we still see today about not duplicating or copying is on the same paragraph.  One cannister is 3 different shades of green with gold borders.  The other is brown with moss green and red lettering with gold borders.  The top isn't as fancy:  it simply says "Edison Record with the title of the song "Harvest Moon" written in at the top.

The record inside is black with an off-white imprint of the song along it's top edges.  It's very light and stands about 4.25" high and a little over 2" wide.  There is a metal ring on the inside at the top and the inside almost feels like cardboard. 

Edison had a previous version of these cylinders that was rounder and shorter.  This version was made using the "gold moulded process" which started around 1902.  This process involved pressing grooves into the cylinder.  The grooves almost look like perforations in paper.  When he started this process, most records could play for 1.5 - 2.5 minutes.  If you look at the first picture of the green cannister, you can see below the name that it says "FOUR MINUTE."  He is obviously advertising the longer playing time on this record!

These cylinders sold very well from 1902 - 1912 and many recordings were made, both music and vaudeville routines. Unfortunately the phonograph that plays these cylinders no longer works, but wouldn't it be amazing to hear what these recordings sounded like?

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