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Model identification and history reference mainly from 
The Edison Cylinder Phonographs 1877-1929 by Frow and Sefl, and 
The Edison Disc Phonographs by George L. Frow.

EDISON AMBEROLA

General description:
Player with enclosed horn in a table-top cabinet, playing a 4-minute cylinder. 
 

Identification details:
ID plate on inside left of cabinet lid. 
Number stamped: 30   SM 223083
The ‘30' reflects the Model Number. 
The number after SM is the erial number. (Why ‘SM' I have no idea).
Patent number (last listed); May 7, 1918. 
Reproducer: hard to define. 
Decals: "Edison" scroll logo on back inside of cabinet lid.
Cabinet material: Golden oak. 
Size: Base 11 5/8" x 15". Height 13 1/4".
Manufacture period: February 1915 - to (not sure) perhaps 1929.
Age of my unit: The fact that the identification plate of my unit indictes a patent dated May 1918 does not, so it seems, indicate that the Model 30 was built only after this date. The Amberola 30 was released in February 1915 in the USA. As new patents were granted, the ID plates were appropriately ammended. But it does give indication that my unit was built during, or more probably after, 1918. Frow & Sefl's excellent book gives a detailed description of their construction. 
Power: Wind-up, spring motor. 
Condition: Perfect, in excellent working order.

On close examination, it appears that the cabinet has been ‘repaired' as the right side of the cabinet is not a single peice of wood; there is a section some 2" x 3" inserted at the bottom front corner, of the same timber (Golden oak) as the rest of the cabinet, and varnished over. Maybe the ‘repair' was done in the factory, or maybe the original cabinets were changed.

The main feature of Amberola model, indeed its reason d'etre, was its concealed acoustic horn. They came as stand-alone cabinet models, most with storage underneath, or as table-top models which is what I have. The first of several Amberola models were released in 1909. The Amberola V was the first of the table-top models, officially announced in March 1913 but known to have been in existence during the previous year. It appears to be the largest of the table-top models. 
Then follows a Amberola B-V model (or Amberola 75) released in May 1915. (There has been a major fire in the factory in December 1914). There was the Amberola VI, with three models VI, B-VI, and C-VI; the first model (often refered to as the A-VI), was released in July 1913 and thus overlapped earlier models. Clearly, the model I own is not one of these due to the design of the carrier arm which on these early models was supported by two rods set in front of the mandrel. My unit has one rod. Further models include the D-VI, VII, VIII, B-VIII, IX and X. The (B)-X was introduced in November 1913, so there was an overlap of many models, with different belt drives and winding mechanisms, reproducers and mandrels. 
Needless to say, Edison, or someone within his organisation, recognised that there were too many models on the market and thus there was a need to consolidate. The fire in December 1914 helped somewhat to do that as many units were destroyed but the decision to consolidate with a new model range was made before the fire. The three new main models, the 30, 50 and 70 were on the drawing board so to speak at the time of the fire. One mechanism was decided upon for all three models, the difference in models being only in the cabinet design and finish. It would appear that Edison recognised the need to standardize on parts as much as possible. 

The Amberola 30 was ‘a new type of Amberola X', and had I not known any better I would have said the Amerola 30 which I have is in fact the Amberola X from photographs but no doubt there were internal changes. 

The best description of which ‘type' is my Amberola 30 lies with the location of the name (ID) plate and the shape of the end of the mandrel; it appears that my unit was the last of four ‘types'. 
I have not been able to determine when the last of the Amberola 30s were manufactured. Nor do I know if my unit came by way of the United Kingdom (more likely) or direct from the USA.

I tried to see if there was any reason why my cabinet would have been ‘repaired' with the small rectangular piece. Was there a previous model that required this part of the cabinet to be altered to accomodate the Amberola 30 ? I could see no such evidence in the cabinet designs of earlier models. 

My unit is a delight to use and has given us great pleasure. I have on the mandrel a cylinder playing The Teddy Bears Picnic which both astounds and gives great joy to kids and adults alike, and have taken it to the local primary school for a ‘show and tell' session on early sound production by cylinders and 78 rpm discs. 


EDISON DISC PHONOGRAPH.

General description:
Official name: C250 Chippendale (Official Laboratory Model. 
Edison Diamond Disc player with original reproducer. Full cabinet upright. The reproducer has a horizon head housing a diamond stylus, reproducing with a ‘hill and dale' engraved disc of approximately .23 inches thick. 
 

Identification details:
ID plate on inside left of cabinet. 
Number stamped: Model C 25030   SM 66404. The ‘C' stands for Chippendale, the design of the unit. 
Patent number (last listed); March 11, 1913. 
Reproducer: hard to define. 
Decals: "Edison" scroll logo on back cabinet.
Marks and other identification: 
‘Thomas A Edison' trade mark engraved on top right of turntable base.
‘Gold' medalion at left front of inside cabinet base, engarved as ‘This Model C 250 Diamond Disc Phonograph is the Official Laboratory Model. Thomas A. Edison.'
Cabinet material: Came in Mahogany or Oak. It appears that mine is mahogany. 
Size: Base 21 x 21.5". Height 51 ".
Manufacture period: From 1914 or 1915 to 1919.  From April 1919 the C-250 became known as the C-19 Chippendale Model. From June 1919 there was a name change from Edison Diamond Disc Phonogreaph to The New Edison.
Power: manual wind-up, spring motor. 
Features: Auto-matic stop. Sound-producer lowering lever. Turntable start lever, and separate stop lever. Volume control is most interesting - a lever near the front edge of the turntable base controls a cable attached to a sock. Volume is ‘adjusted' by moving the 
lever, thus the sock, in and out of the acoustic horn concealed in the cabinet beneath the turntable. Brilliant!
Condition: Perfect, in excellent working order. With original Diamond Disc reproducer. 
Age of my unit: My unit has an automatic stop mechanism. This was only available with units from May 1916 onward. An electric stop was installed from April 1917. As my unit has a mechanical stop, the unit could well be identified as having been built between May 1916 and April 1917.

Many C-250 cabinets survived - but not so the reproducer. The reason - although the diamond disc revolved at around 80 rpm, the unit could easily be converted to a 78rpm record player by discarding the Diamond Disc reproducer and replacing it with a needle diaphram for the 78s. Hence the cabinets were kept for many years by which time the now useless reproducer disappeared into the bin. 

The original grill on my unit has disappeared, and when I purchased the unit in the early eighties, there was a silk screen across the front, hiding the horn. I need to make a new grill. The original grill is designated as French Gothic. 

The cabinet is lockable - both the upper swing-lid housing the reproducer and turntable, and the storeage cabinet. And I have the key.

There were six acoustic Edison disc phonograph reproducers built, of similar but not identical design. I do not know which one I have. It is significant to note that I purchased the cabinet with a 78rpm record head. It was only later that I found an original Edison Diamond Disc reproducer. 
I have nineteen Edison Diamond Discs. The most played Is When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along, sung by Frank Braidwod (The Cowboy Baritone) with Irwin Dash at the piano; Cat. 51770. I find people get the most enjoyment out of hearing something that they are familiar with. 


EDISON GEM PHONOGRAPH

General description: Edison cylinder player with acoustic horn. Able to play both 2 and 4 minute cylinders, the only Gem expresly designed to play both types of record and refered to as ‘The Combination Gem'. 
 
 

Model: D (see end of Serial number).
Identification details: Scrolled Edison logo in gold on front of body. 
ID plate on back of body. Number stamped: 345326D. 
Reproducer: Combination Model K. 
Decals: Dealers decal, ‘Howle & Co, Karangahape Road, Auckland.'
Marks and other identification: None.
Body material: Red painted cast iron. 
Manufacture period: Introduced in October 1909. The Model E followed in 1912 but as this played only 4 minute cylinders, the Model D may have had a long run-out period. 
Power: manual wind-up, spring motor. 
Features: Tin acoustic horn, in moroon with gilt striping, is suspended by a chain from a bent rod attached to the block; it is attached to the reproducer by a small rubber tube. 
Case: Oak. (I had it - I lost it in one of the many changes of wives and houses.) 
Condition: Unit itself is fine, spring motor good condition. Reproducer damaged, all parts there but metal 
plate that holds the stylus is loose - needs to be fitted to the holding ring that traverses the cylinder. 
Additional models: A model D was also available with a mahogany cabinet and mahogany finish horn, or nickel plated, or even gold plated. 
According to The Edison Cylinder Phonographs 1877-1929 by Frow and Sefl:

The Model D was introduced in October 1909, and closely resembled the Models B and C, although these had a ‘Gem' decal on the front of the body. 

 

Regarding the cylinders: Amberol Cylinders, playing four-plus minutes, made by Edison, came on the market from October 1908, and remaained till about 1913.The Blue Amerol Cylinders produced by Edison, which played four-minutes, became the standard from October 1912 to 1929 when production stopped. They were made of blue-dyed celluloid, and replaaced the black was Amerols which were found to be very brittle. The title was etched into the end of the cylinder, generally in white, althouygh some ‘celebrity' records were etched and filled in gold. There was also a series of Amerols called Royal Purple Amberol Records made in 1913, and then from 1917 to 1921. 

The playing duration of the 2 and 4 minute cylinders was based on their number of windings, or ‘threads' laterally along the cylinder; there was only one ‘track'. The 2-minute cylinders had a courser groove of 100 threads per inch, whilst the Blue Amerols had double that playing time because of their finer tracks allowing 200 per inch. The Combination Gem reproducers had two stylus, one of which could be brought into play by turning the stylus holder.


THE GRAPHOPHONE

General description: Cylinder player with acoustic horn. Made by Columbia Phonographic Co, London, New York.
Model: Cannot see a model number.
 

Identification details: Scrolled The Graphophone in gold on front of body. 
ID plate: ?
Reproducer: ? 
Marks and other identification: None.
Decals: On the rear of the body: ‘The graphophone & Columbia Records were awarded The Grand Prize at the Paris Exposition 1900 and St.Louis Exposition 1904. 
Body material: Appears to be oak. 
Manufacture period:
Power: manual wind-up, spring motor. 
Features: Small brass accoustic horn attached directly to the reproducer (and thus travels with the reproducer). 
Case: Oak. (I had it - I lost it in one of the many changes of wives and houses.) 
Condition: Unit itself is fine, spring motor good condition. Not sure about the reproducer as I have not played it for ages. 

Without a model number it is difficult to positively identify this unit. There is no identification plate and thus no serial number nor model number. And I have been unable to positivly identify my unit against photographs in a number of books - it appears that the Edison units get all the coverage!!! 


H.M.V. 78 rpm DISC PLAYER
 
78rpm player with replaceable single-play needle reproducer, spring manual wind operation, with accoustic horn. 

Markings: There are no specific markings on the unit. The front of the unit has a faded "His Master's Voice" decal. 
Material: The cabinet appears to be made of oak. The horn is tin.
Date: No indocation. 
Reproducer: ‘Jewel' brand. 
Condition: Good.

No idea where or when I purchased this, but back inthe eighties. 



 

DECCA ‘JUNIOR' PORTABLE 78rpm PLAYER
 
The general description is as per its name - a small portable player of 78rpm records - the smallest unit I have seen but no doubt there are smaller. The sound ‘travels' up the reproducer arm into a convex metal dish in the lid, which then reflects the sound back to the listener. 

Material: Imitation leather cloth over timber.

Size: 9½ x 10¾ x 8 inches. 
Power: Spirmng wind-up.
No idea whwre this came from but I have had it for some forty years. 


VICROLA

Made by RCA Victor.
Dedicated 45rpm player, electical operation, ‘fat' spindle, automatic changer. 
 
Markings: Victrola on inside lid. RCA Victor on inside front pf turntable base. There was a manufacturer's decal on the inside back but it has crumbled. 
Size: 11 x 11 x 7½ inches.

Material: Appears to be Bakelite, or an early brown plastic. 
Date: No indication.
Operation: Electric. Probably 120 volt or thereabouts - not 240 volts - DO NOT PLAY unless wiring is checked and if not 240 volts, a transformer used. 
Spindle size: 1½ inches diameter (3.8cm). 
Condition: I'd say pretty good even though it has not been played for nearly half a century.

This unit was owned by my father who died in Singapore in February 1959, so that gives you some idea of its age. It is a dedicated unit for RCA Victor's new 45rpm 7 inch discs. Note the large spindle hole. The records were made with a smaller ‘normal' spindle hole but had a centre section that could be pushed out to fit the unit. Tthe fat spindle was designed to fascilitate a steady, stable, quick change between records. 

 

RCA Victor first issued its 45 rpm record in January 1949. This thy did in competition to American Columbia Company's  announcement in June 1948 of their 33 1/3 rpm ‘long playing' microgroove disc, of 10 and 12 inches diameter, which was to become a standard for music reproduction for half a century. Columbia recognised that although they had developed a new format for sound reproduction, an industry standard was imperative, and they invited RCA Victor to join them in the launch of the new format. RCA hesitated, knowing of course that they would need to pay a royalty to use the new patented format. So, RCA ‘secretly' instructed their research department to develop, quickly, a long-playing system that was incompatible with their rival's new release. Within seven months, in January 1949, RCA announced their 45rpm, 7inch disc, together with the equipment to play it. The fat spindle allowed for a new automatic quick-change mechanism that was designed to change a record within ojne and a half seconds (it certainly is quick), the intention being to provide a near continuous playing (hearing) of longer works, but the average interval between the end of (the sound) of one record to the beginning of another is around five seconds due to run off and lead-in times which vary greatly. RCA then developed the ‘extended play' 45 which gave twive the playing time on one side, ie generally two songs. Of course, RCA later took up a licensing aagreement with Columbia, but their 45s also played a major role in the promotion of popular music, and became the norm for half a century for the ‘single' song released by popular performers. 


STROMBERG CARLSON
 
Radiogram unit. The left part contains the automatic changer and turntable capable of the three speeds, whilst the right contains a powerful radio (which I have picked up Europe). It is a very pleasant sturdy unit from a well-respected manufacturer, giving a strong full sound. 
Turntable: 3-speed. 
Condition: Very good. In full working order. 
Power: Electricity, 240 volt. 
Cabinet: Wood, not sure of type.
Radio: Short wave. 

Note storeage of records on either side of central speaker grill. 



 

ASTOR
 

Table-top radiogram.
Cabinet: Bakelite
Turntable: 3-speed Collaro RC54, Made in England, with 
two switchable stylii labeled LP and N (=78).
Markings: Astor decal on inside back of lid.
Radio: Short wave.
Unit itself probably made in Australia.This was a very popular unit in the 1950s and 60s. 


78RPM CABINET PLAYERS
SONORA

"Clear As A Bell"

78rpm play, acoustic operation, manual wind-up.

Has a label Allan & Co. Pty Ltd, Collins Street, Melbourne.  Probably not made by this company who were music and music equipment distributors. 
Markings: Includes also the notation, "Highest Score at Panama-Pacific Exposition 1915". 
Reproducer: Single-play steel needle. 
Power: Spring operated, manual wind-up.
Condition: good working ordr, a few scratches on the cabinet front.

The lid covering the face of the internal horn on the right of the unit slips under the unit for neatness when in use. The record compartment has cardbaord sleeves hinged so that the cover and record can be swung out for retrieval. 



 
 
 
BARNES

78 rpm accoustic operation cabinet record player. 

Made by W.H.Barnes, London. This is the only marking. 

Reproducer: Single-play steel needle. 
Power: Spring operated, manual wind-up.
Record storage either side of central internal accoustic horn. 
 


CABINETS
 

I bought this most beautiful inlaid cabinet in the early 1970s in an antique shop in Kyneton, central Victoria, whilsst living at Mount Macedon. The antique dealer was not happy! The cabinet contained a working 78rpm player with a concealed horn behind the two doors of the upper compartment - until ‘some kid' overwound the spring and broke it. 

I liked the cabinet, so bought it - at a very good price I might add. Having no need for a further 78rpm player, and certainly not one that did not work, I did the unforgiveable - I ripped it out and turned the cabinet into record storage. I did a pretty good job of it actually. Under the lid I constructed a red-flock libned box to hold LPs. Behind the two upper doors there was enough room to build two horizontal shelves (for more records), and behind the lower doors I had little to do but clean up the original record storage area. 

It still remains a beautiful piece of furniture but I do now regret pulling out the player unit - which I believe I still have in abox somewhere.


 
This is a delightful cabinet that I bought in the early 1980s from an antique shop in Hawthorn, I think on the corner of Glenferrie and Toorak Roads. 

I was living at the time with second wife Jan in Upper Ferntree Gully. I have never seen another piece like it, and would presume it to be rather rare. 

It is a glass-fronted record cabinet, built in the days of the 78s, and had about ten shallow drawers allowing the storage of some ten records in two adjacent piles divided within each drawer. There is also a larger storage area at the bottom of the cabinet.  I don't know the material but it is of dark wood. 


RADIOS
 

ASTOR MICKEY
Bakelite. One knob missing. A very popular unit. 
Year:
PHILIPS
Bakelite.
Year:
PHILIPS
Wood cabinet.
Year: 
RADIOLA
Clock-radio: alarm clock, able to turn radio on, off.
Cream plastic cabinet.
In 1957, when I was fourteen,  I had the choice - a bicycle or a radio. I chose
the radio, and bought this model. It gave me access to 
the lates hit parade (half-an-hour on a Tuesday I think
it was), the kids serials after school, and the evening radio 
thrillers such as D24 (on 3DB, Wednesday evenings).
I got the bike the following year.