Delight and Music of the World Enters the Home
This gallery features phonograph ads from 1900 to 1905.
Edison Form 52, 1900 (Courtesy NYPL) (5)
"Perfectly reproduces the human voice just as loud--just as clear--just as sweet." 1900
Harper's Magazine, 1900
The Graphophone - Columbia Phonograph Company, c.1900
Munsey's Magazine, 1900 (PM-0936)
Edison Poster Form 318, c. 1901 (PM-1344)
The coin-in-the-slot machines offered a variety of entertainment but few celebrity artists were part of the musical repertoire. After 1900, however, the "Whole Range of Music" began to be expand. The "great singers, players, orchestras, entertainers of every sort" that had been generically referenced in previous ads now had artist's names attached to respective phonograph ads.
The "Joy" and the "Delight," and its "pure musical tones" could still be headlines for an Edison ad. But the names and pictures of Caruso, Scotti, Plancon, Sousa, Calve, Sembrich, Schumann-Heink, Camanari, Edouard and Jean de Rezki, Adams, Gilibert, Tamango, and others were what started to change the consumer perception of how wide that offering of the "whole range of music" might really be.
In 1903 a Columbia Phonograph announced "Grand Opera on Talking Machines in your own Home" calling it
"a most extraordinary achievement marking an epoch in the art of recording and reproducing sound: For the first time in the history of the Talking Machine Art successful records have been made of the voices of the world- renowned singers."
Grand Opera Records by members of the Metropolitan Opera Company, Harper's Magazine, April 1903
King Edward and Queen's Greeting, The Cosmopolitan, 1903
Munsey's Magazine, August 1903, 4" x 5 1/2"
The Saturday Evening Post, December 19, 1903
It technically was not the first time in history for renowned singers to be recorded since Gianni Bettini and others had recorded famous opera stars in the 1890's and in 1898 Bettini had even published a record catalogue that included twelve pages of famous artist offerings. But once Columbia, Victor and Edison started making records in the early 1900's the 'world-renowned singers' referenced in national magazine ads started to change the consumer conversation regarding the scope of home entertainment.
Bettini 1898 Catalog with Specialty Records by famous artists pp.8-9 and 18-19 Courtesy Stanford University Libraries (3)
In 1904 the first full page advertisement by Victor devoted to a single artist, Enrico Caruso, was published following his 'exclusive contract" that he signed with Victor. It signaled a new era for many of the greatest singers of the world to also become recording artists.
On the other hand, Edison's ads were for a machine that was said to bring delight, pleasure and the "faithful reproduction of sound" for all lovers of music but with few advertising references to actual opera recording stars.
The following ads from 1900-1905 show this mix of celebrated artists and the more general approach of emphasizing the pleasure and delight this machine could bring to the home.
During this time the talking machine also began to be called in advertisements "a perfect musical instrument."
The Cosmopolitan, 1901 (PM-0968)
Edison ad, 1901
Harper's Magazine, April 1902
"You could not get the originals -- even for a single performance - for less than $100,000..." The Saturday Evening Post, January 31, 1903
The Saturday Evening Post, April 25, 1903
Edison Ad, Munsey's magazine, January 1902
Edison ad, 1902
"Music Hath Charms" 1902
See variation used in another Edison ad in The Saturday Evening Post, March 28, 1903
The Edison Phonograph Monthly, June 1903
Here's what the July 1903 edition of The Edison Phonograph Monthly had to say about their July "Entrancing" advertisement and where it was appearing:
The Saturday Evening Post, July 18, September 19, October 24, 1903 (1/12 page ad)
The Saturday Evening Post, November 21, 1903 (1/12 page ad)
Munsey's Magazine, November 1903
1903 (PM-0882) - (Also, 1/12 page ad in The Saturday Evening Post, December 5, 1903)
"Several noted artists sang; then the Gram-O-Phone repeated the same songs, and behold the imitation was as perfect as the original." The Saturday Evening Post, October 24, 1903 - pictures of Caruso and Tamagno
1903 Victor Imported Records - pictures of Calve and Plangon
"A Perfect musical instrument." The Saturday Evening Post, January 30, 1904 (1/4 page ad)
The Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1904 (PM-1359)
According to David Suisman in Selling Sounds, this was the first full page advertisement by Victor "devoted to a single artist. The text emphasizes both the reputation Caruso had in Europe and his exclusive contract with Victor." (2)
Harper's Magazine, 1904 (1/2 page ad)
"Go and Hear the Edison Phonograph," The National Phonograph Company, The Saturday Evening Post, 5" x 7.25"
Scribner's, January 1904
"Grand Opera at Home," Collier's, May 21, 1904, 5" x 8"
Review of Reviews, November 1904
The Saturday Evening Post, 1904