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Antique Phonograph News
Canadian Antique Phonograph Society

May-Jun 2004

Jan-Feb Mar-Apr May-Jun Jul-Aug Sep-Oct Nov-Dec
B.J. Roberts Music Store

Thanks to Jean-Paul Agnard for sending along this magnificent photo of a shop owned by the father in law of his motherís direct cousin. This cousin, who is now 94 years old, lives in a retirement home in Reigate, Surrey near Redhill where this shop was located at 81 Brighton Road. Unfortunately the shop was closed a couple of years ago.

Jean-Paul had been there from Paris for several years during the summer holidays in the 1960ís to learn English while living at her daughterís in Croydon, at the south of London. The 4 windows in the photo are the location of the flat (apartment).

Close scrutiny of the photograph reveals an astounding assortment of both cylinder and disc talking machines. Through the window one can see a significant stock of what appear to be Edison and Pathé cylinders, plus an assortment of paneled horns. Talking machine sales must have been very good at the time the photo was taken as is attested to by the abundance of machines which occupy most of the storefront display.

American National Recording Registry
From information provided by Oliver Berliner

The American Library of Congress began in 2003 annually selecting 50 recordings to include in the National Recording Registry. These recordings must be at least 10 years old and "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

A partial list of the 2003 National Recording Registry (in chronological order) includes Emile Berliner: "The Lordís Prayer" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (ca. 1888); Billy Murray: "Youíre a Grand Old Rag [Flag]" (1906); Okeh Laughing Record (1922); Leadbelly: "Goodnight Irene" (1933); 1941 World Series Game Four - New York Yankees vs Brooklyn Dodgers; Billy Graham: Problems of the American Home (1954); Chuck Berry: "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956). Twenty-six additional entries are listed in the article.

At The Auction
by Mark Caruana

Considering that I havenít spent that much time on Ebay lately, Iíve come up with quite a selection of items this time that I may not get to them all. In the category of recording media I came across three auctions for Bettini cylinder boxes. Phonograph pioneer Gianni Bettini, whose Micro-Phonograph recorders and reproducers are considered highly collectable, marketed these rare cylinders. The first cylinder box which sold for $169.50 (all prices in $US) was the highly illustrated style and came with a cylinder that was not as I gathered a Bettini cylinder. The other two boxes were the more familiar and desirable solid red container with black writing and each sold in the neighborhood of $250.00. If only these boxes had their cylinders!

If you really have some money to splurge, consider bidding on some of the later 5000 series Blue Amberols, one of which, #5716 titled Kansas City Kitty by Billy Murray and His Merry Melody Men recently sold for $2,525.00. You unfortunately missed some Columbia 6 inch cylinders, which sold as a lot with a few Edison Gold molded cylinders for an outstanding $2,225.00. If you would like to move up into the 1940ís and collect something that is still affordable, a few good deals can be had similar to the cerise (orange) coloured 45 RCA record Arthur Big Boy Crudupís "Thatís all Right Mama" which sold for a reasonable $148.50.

Getting to the really rare and good stuff, I found a Hiller Talking Clock from about 1911 which sold for $3,700.00. As with all the examples I have heard about, the celluloid tape that contains the recording was missing. Other unusual items were a Regina feature that adapts it to play 78 RPM records. This item went unsold with an opening bid of $6,200.00. The final item I can fit in this month is a Wurlitzer Debutante Jukebox Prototype from around 1932. This model design was purchased by the Wurlitzer Company to be utilized as a test model for the marketability of jukeboxes. This one, which the seller believes may be one of only two known examples, sold for $4,400.00 plus 15% buyers premium (for live auctions).

Hiller Talking Clock circa 1911

Wurlitzer Debutante Jukebox Prototype circa 1932
Finally, Meet the Elusive Gus Hill
by Arthur E. Zimmerman

In the May-June 2003 issue of Antique Phonograph News, I outlined the state of my research on Gus Hill, the Canadian ballad singer known as perhaps the first "live" vocalist on Canadian radio, circa 1920, on the Montreal Marconi station XWA (later CFCF). We also knew that he recorded four 10-inch acoustic sides for Herbert Berlinerís Apex label and one for his black HMV 216000 series. Other than these few facts, and a photograph in the Canadian Music Trades Journal, October 1921, with a brief caption stating that he had sung for Mrs. (Prime Minister) Meighen at the Ottawa Exhibition, we knew nothing about him.

The breakthrough happened when I finally got at and searched the Globe and Mail database, and found a little obituary article on Reginald (Gus) Hill. He had died on Friday, January 18, 1946, at his home, 7 Bonfield Avenue, Toronto. "Onetime singer of popular songs", he had been "associated with several music firms as song sheet salesman", "had been active in business both in Toronto and Montreal", and had been ill for some years. Gus Hill was buried at Park Lawn Cemetery, Toronto, and surviving him were his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Joseph T. Williams.

Billed in 1921 as "the well-known minstrel", history lost track of Gus Hill. Afer many decades, we have recovered the full name and some of the story of the elusive Reginald Huffman (Gus) Hill, a Canadian broadcasting and recording pioneer artist.

Book Review:
Phonographica, The Early History of Recorded Sound Observed

by Mark Caruana

Itís becoming hard to believe that the duo of Timothy C. Fabrizio and George F. Paul can continue to unearth the rare and unusual in the phonograph hobby, but once again they have come up with a treasure-trove of items for their newest book.

Phonographica, The Early History of Recorded Sound Observed is number 7 in their series on phonographs and related items. As is the case with all their books, this one is filled from cover to cover with spectacular photographs. Of all their books this one is the best illustrated with over 500 photographs and the insightful captions for this 224 page 8 Ĺ by 11 Ĺ inch coffee table book are a great source of entertainment. At 49.95 US it is well worth it to be able to see some of the most charming posters, catalogue covers, promotional giveaways and hand-painted signs. My favorite chapter contains dozens of "real life" images of ordinary people with their machines.

Available from Schiffer Publishing Ltd. (www.schifferbooks.com) ISBN 0-7643-1985-X