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Antique Phonograph News
Canadian Antique Phonograph Society


Nov-Dec 2004

Jan-Feb Mar-Apr May-Jun Jul-Aug Sep-Oct Nov-Dec

Merry Christmas to CAPS Members

The painting shown is the inner spread from Victor advertising Form No. 3096, "Will there be a Victrola in your home this Christmas", illustrating the 1916 line of Victor-Victrolas - "Any instrument you choose will play any music you wish to hear". The Victrola is "the only instrument that brings the world’s greatest artists into your home" as exemplified by Enrico Caruso standing next to the Victor-Victrola XVI.

At The Auction
by David Lennick

My name is David, and I’m an auction addict. ...From time to time I’m tempted by the siren call of eBay.... where at any given time you can find between five and six thousand 78s offered. The field is full of professional dealers and attic purgers, people who know what they’re selling and others who think they’re going to make a fortune because "this record is really rare and only recorded on one side and it’s one of a kind".

Thus begins David's account of recent record deals on eBay including Tony Bennett’s first record, made for George Simon’s Leslie label in 1949, issued under the name "Joe Bari". According to a number of accounts, the "only known copy literally disintegrated" some time in the sixties. Well, as any true collector knows, if you wait long enough everything turns up somewhere, and a copy went on auction in October with a minimum bid of $1,999.00 . And it sold!

Wright’s Stuff or This Page Intentionally Blank
50 Tracks

by Keith Wright

In order to fill some summer radio airtime the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a program called 50 Tracks. It was actually quite an ambitious undertaking for summer filler. Starting with an arbitrary number of 50 songs (and songs they were) they wanted to find as they put it themselves, "50 tracks. 100 years. One great list of essential songs of the 20th century." They had to start somewhere, so they allotted 5 tracks for 1900 to 1929 and then 5 tracks for each subsequent decade. Each week, 3 'experts' would join the host to discuss and vote on 2 tracks each for that time period (CAPS member Jeff Healey was one of the 1900-29 experts). The final 10 tracks and the overall order (the "hit parade if you will") were voted on by anyone who wanted to phone in, write in or use the Internet. Clearly, our Society would be interested in the older material and we should not be completely disappointed.

Keith then lists the top 10 songs of all time, the top 5 from the first few decades of recorded sound (1900-1929), the 1930s, the 1940s and the 1950s.

Ephemera: Interior of A Used Furniture Store
by Bill Pratt

A junk store really, a clutter of furniture and hangings, the numerous flags indicating the U.S., perhaps the late teens or early 1920s. Not likely much of interest here. The salesman and his customer pose casually for their photograph at the rear of the store. The collector’s eye spots the display of records hanging behind the two gentlemen, their colourful labels meant to entice the customer. Perhaps you noticed the prominent stacks of 78s on the dresser in the front corner of the picture. The top label is a 12" Columbia Tri-Color first introduced in 1906, perhaps a Mary Garden or a Rosa Ponselle. Next to the records is a lidless Columbia Grafonola introduced in 1914. At the lowest end of the Columbia line it seems right at home in the store but it was likely not the machine that played the Ponselle.

Spend a little more time with the photograph. Follow the line of furniture on the left to the back of the store. Additional piles of 78s tease the record collector. Beside the older man, wearing the overcoat and hat, is a second machine, also lidless, perhaps a Victor Victrola IV or VI or a second Grafonola.

Seen enough? Not fair really. The photograph is printed only slightly smaller than the original but the other items of interest to the phonograph collector are difficult to spot, even using a strong hand lens. See the clock standing on the round table beside the younger man? To the right of the clock is a pile of phonograph cylinder boxes lying on their sides. They look to be Columbia and Edison wax cylinders.

Wow. Few items of value but still a lot to intrigue the phonograph collector. Time to leave the store without a purchase though. But wait. The final item is practically impossible to see. On the wall to the right between the flags and behind a metal pan (?) a cardboard hangar advertises packets of phonograph needles. Always handy and only a nickel. The store was a good find after all.

Antique Gramophone Lovers Beware of Crap-o-phones and Franken-phones
by Cameron Freeman

About a year ago, my wife and I were bitten by the Victorian decorating bug. We started buying all sorts of Victoriana for our home. .... As a result, we’ve come to love touring antique shops for items deemed Victorian enough to add to our home.

Recently on one of our "antiquing" excursions, we came across a wonderful looking "external brass-horn gramophone". To our delight it actually worked! We knew nothing about gramophones. The antique dealer confessed she had never sold one before, it had only been in her shop for about 10 days and declared $350 a "fair" price. My wife cooed about how nice it would be to play her mother’s beloved old 78s on a vintage gramophone, so we bought it on the spot.

I think you know where this is going. Check out Cameron's detailed, vivid and humourous account of an all too common experience. Beware of outside horn gramophones that are too good to be true.