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A Not Often Seen Lyre Puck Phonograph

Every collector knows that collecting is a passion which, sometimes, is close to madness. I used to say that in my case, with more that 250 cylinder machines, it is just a soft madness as I have never yet bitten anybody. Maybe one day.... Nevertheless, each collector is hooked to his collection like others are hooked onto drugs, the only difference being that instead of being damaging to both your health and your purse, in most cases it is only damaging to your purse.

Collectors have a tendency to react as follows: "I don’t have it, so I want it". Sometimes, however, they already have it and they do not know it.

This was the case with this rarely seen German Lyre Puck cylinder machine, a scarce one that can play Standard and intermediate size cylinders, a machine for which I have been looking for a very long time.

I saw the first one two years ago, when I came to the phonograph show of Rudesheim in Germany while visiting a German collector. Up until then, I had seen them only in the Carette catolog of 1911.

It is only when I got back to Quebec and I started to correspond with this collector, that I asked him to measure the space between the mandrel axis and the top of the baseplate, in order to make comparisons with all the ones that I had in my museum and in the pile of wrecked lyres that I have in my basement. It was then that I realized that I had not one, but two naked Lyre Puck bases with an extralong mandrel shaft-to-baseplate post. Both of them have the same base design (see the NOTE below), different from all the other ones that I have in the collection, even if I have found one in the pile with exactly the same design, but for playing only the Standard size cylinders. In fact, the hole to receive the mandrel axis is at 58 mm above the base for the combination model, when it is at 48 mm for the average one with the same base design.

(NOTE: regarding base design. Not all the Lyres have the same drawing design. Not taking into account the special bases, like the Mermaid, the Nymphe, the Harpist, the Lion facing or the Lion profile, the average lyre shaped bases have different leaves arrangements)

With this in mind, I measured the same distance for all the different Pucks in my collection and was very surprised to realize that, even if they were never advertised as being able to do so, the two different Lion Pucks are able to play intermediate size cylinders with their mandrel to base plate distance of 57 mm. In fact, for the other different models, there are no two with the same measured value, ranging from 42 to 52 mm. In fact, any Puck with a distance measuring above 48 mm (like the Mermaid, at 49 mm) is able to play intermediate size cylinders. More precisely, it is able to accommodate an intermediate size cylinder, but we cannot determine if the spring would be strong enough to drive it during the two minutes of the cylinder’s playing time (the larger the cylinder, the stronger the spring has to be).

With this new discovery in my collection, I have now 12 different Pucks and 8 different Kastenpucks (Puck mounted on a base). Recently on eBay-Germany, I bought a repro base for an original Lorelei, being 99,99% sure that I will never be able to buy a real one. Its transformation into a complete classic-looking machine might be the topic of a future paper.

Jean-Paul Agnard