1898 Edison Suitcase Home Phonograph Playing 1898 Brown Wax Cylinder

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by PaulKTF, May 9, 2018.

  1. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
  2. Also known as the 'sewing machine' case Edison cylinder phonograph. The brown cylinder is bee's wax and meant to be recorded on and played back. Sort of like a CD-RW. If you wanted to record something else, you would simply shave the old recording off with a razor blade and then record something new. I believe that the blank cylinders are still made. If you don't have the recording head, you can send off a recording of the music you want on cylinder and it can be cut for you. The Edison Standard phonograph only played cylinders 2 minutes in length. The manufactured pre-recorded cylinders were usually black in color. Later they introduced the 4 minute cylinder which was blue in color. A new cylinder player was also introduced to play them, but the older Edison Standard's, like I have, had been converted to play both. You had to swap reproducers and switch the speed as they each used their own dedicated stylus and the feed screw had to be slowed down.
    There were other non-compatible cylinder phonographs which had different sized cylinders, like Columbia.
    The University of California, Santa Barbra has an extensive music collection which includes cylinders and other early recording formats. Downloads used to be available online for free. Here's a link to their website:
    , add a separator before "UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive" --> <title> Index | UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive
    At the turn of the century, there was a type of recording that was very popular, especially on cylinder records, though today it would be considered politically and socially inappropriate, they were known as "Coon" recordings. As you might expect, they included songs and comedy routines that were stereotypical of Black people. There were no black people usually making these records. This was nothing new and carried on for decades.
    Take the famous Amos 'n' Andy records and radio shows. They were voiced by Caucasian performers Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. I believe they did some of the Edison recordings. It wasn't until television that there were actually Black actors in the Amos 'n' Andy show. They couldn't do 'blackface' like Al Jolson or Ted Danson. Even in the 50's it wouldn't be appropriate.
    Edison cylinder records were probably the first recorded home entertainment you could get. In 1897, 500,000 cylinder were sold. All this from a device invented by Thomas Edison to be a dictation machine. As such, cylinder dictation machine were in use into the 1950's.
     
  3. stereoguy

    stereoguy The King Of Stereo Mixing

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    And, I believe I read that even tho the cylinder was phased out in favor of the disk, that Edison continued to make them until 1929 because there was still demand.
     
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  4. Peterr

    Peterr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hilversum, Holland
    I've got several of these machines, from Edison Pathe and Colombia.
    In Germany the Vulcan company still makes cilinders for collectors.

    ( Love my Phonograps but the sound is horrible ofcourse )

    Grtz Peter
     
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  5. JackG

    JackG Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    I'm not far from the Edison lab/national park in West Orange and it's very cool to hear these played back unamplified in the first recording studio. Worth the trip if you're anywhere near.
     
  6. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Dillydipper sent me this clip that I hadn't seen in years and I just had to post it here. This is so something I would do. :)

     
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  7. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE.

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    That video is rigged. If you've ever worked with cylinders, you know they're not fragile and prone to disintegration. Blue Amberols were quite hardy. Some Amberols were badly dubbed from disc. They were called "Damnberolas".
     
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  8. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Aw damn... Okay, well.. thanks for ruining my fun. :laugh:
     
  9. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE.

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    Ruining fun is why I'm here! :D
     
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  10. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    You must work in Management. :)
     
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  11. Yes, the cylinders are definitely fragile. Once, a 2 minute one got stuck on the mandrel and broke into a bunch of pieces when I tried to slide it off. Another time, I knocked one of my Amberol cylinders onto a carpeted floor and it also broke. Many years ago, my great grandmother told me about there being special carrying cases for the cylinders and no matter how careful you were, some would break. In the video, the guy probably held the cylinder too tightly and that's why it broke. Another problem with the 2 minute black cylinders was mildew. The cylinders would get a white haze on them from the mildew and the sound quality would deteriorate. Because the carriage holding the reproducers was feedscrew driven, the cylinders would play through any damage. Also, besides the Diamond Discs being used to dub, acoustically, to the Amberol cylinders, the cylinders were also used to dub to the Diamond Discs, which was more common with the early DD's..
     
  12. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    One of the original internet vids.
     
  13. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura

    You actually use them??:idea:
     
  14. Robert C

    Robert C Sound Archivist

    Location:
    London, UK
    That's right. By the 1920s, cylinder technology had been advanced to the point that they actually had better SNR than shellac discs.

    Here's a photo I took whilst digitising a late era blue amberol cylinder:

    [​IMG]

    Blue Amberol Records - Wikipedia
     
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  15. stereoguy

    stereoguy The King Of Stereo Mixing

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Robert, that picture is fantastic!
     
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  16. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    That isn't an Archeophone, is it? Doesn't look like the photos I've seen. Impressive, regardless!
     
  17. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE.

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    I built a cylinder player some years ago to play dictation cylinders. (Not fancy, though!) The cylinders were not by any means fragile, though I could see one breaking if dropped on a hard surface. BA's were plaster of paris on the inside. The biggest problem I've seen are ones that have an off-center rotation. And from what I've read, it wasn't the cylinders themselves that got moldy, it was the cardboard tube in which they were stored, and the mold migrated to the cylinder.
     
  18. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    This would be like having an LP that was off-center, right?
     
  19. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I watched a video somewhere online where a cylinder playback machine had been built to deal with off center cylinders. It would move the rotation axis and adjust speed properly to keep the off center cylinder rotating exactly properly to the playback stylus, which just played a perfectly centered cylinder at perfect speed. This was a demonstation before an audience. In several minutes of searching I cannot find this video.
     
  20. Why not? I am a recorded media collector.
     
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  21. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura

    Sweet. :nauga:
     
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  22. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE.

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    Yep, except the "wow" is a lot faster. I used the mandrel from a dictaphone machine mounted on the motor from a direct drive turntable. The strong magnets keep it on center, and it's totally silent. Since the mandrel is longer than a cylinder, there's a little "wiggle room" for off-center cylinders.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  23. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I bet if you sold that as a kit of some kind you'd find a market for it.
     
  24. longdist01

    longdist01 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    Very cool stuff, thanks for sharing the stories and photos in this Thread.

    If you show one of those cylinders today to a Hipster, probably expect it to come w/ a free download card...
     
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  25. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    "Dude, this isn't vinyl... Why would i want this?". :)
     
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