Believe it or Not!

Miscellaneous Phonographia Factolas


By Doug Boilesen, 2020

Advertising by its very nature can push believeability to its boundaries. Early phonograph advertisements, such as ones describing phonograph records as producing sound "only life itself can compare with" or picturing artists actually performing in your own home, exemplify the phonograph industry's creativity in promoting the world of recorded sound.

Like advertisements, the following Factolas are to be believed (or not) and are here because they are miscellaneous, meaning they don't fit into other phonographia galleries or are a "first" of something, or are simply a piece of ephemera seting the record straight.

As the saying goes, "Let the PUN-ishment fit the crime."


Postmarked May 9, 1907 (PM-0456)


FACTOLA, October 26, 1877 - The first telephone in the White House was installed for President Rutherford B. Hayes. The White House was given the telephone exchange number "1." The Telephone Comes to Washington: George C. Maynard, 1839-1919 Richard T. Loomis.



FACTOLA, July, 1879 - The first phonograph used in a United States post office as customer communication support was in Leadville, Colorado.

Bergmann Exhibition Tinfoil Phonograph sold in per contract with the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company. (Courtesy René Rondeau)


It is known that one of Edison's 1878 tin-foil phonographs (a Bergmann Exhibition model phonograph) was purchased in September 1878 by a Mr. S. D. Silver who lived in Leadville, Colorado (elevation 10,151 feet). (1) Silver exhibited the phonograph around the country and later raffled it, reportedly won by the Leadville post office letter register clerk W. D. Stone in July 1879. The clerk was said to have recorded a "choice selection of oaths" and then placed the phonograph in the Leadville post office window where it could "swear at unidentified people who call for letters and get mad because he will not hand them out without the proper vouchification."


The Daily Chronicle, Leadville, Colorado, Thursday Evening, July 31, 1879


FACTOLA, November 1 or November 8, 1888 - The first attempt to record a public speech by means of the phonograph was made Thursday evening at a democratic rally in the Park rink in Orange, New Jersey. Eighteen cylinders were used with 'slight breaks" between changing of the cylinders. The cylinders were said to each last about seven minutes. The portions of the speeches taken were nearly two hours long. The phonograph was operated by Theodore Wangemann and an assistant, both connected with the Edison Laboratory.

From New York dispatch and printed in the Dannebrog Sentinel on Saturday, November 10, 1888, p. 2.



FACTOLA, April 20, 1891 - First attempt to introduce a new way to speculate in stocks using the Phonograph to place orders.

Reported by San Francisco's The Examiner, The Public Stock Exchange was incorporated in December 1890 with by-laws that stated "stocks may be bought and sold by oral expression or by the reannouncement of orders on a phonograph in the exchange room. When a phonograph is used to make the bids and offers it shall be done aloud so that all may hear it and a record made at once of each offer to buy and sell on a blackboard in the Exchange room. The phonograph thus used is designated the "Main Phonograph."

The Attorney-General filed a complaint to have the Public Stock Exchange charter forfeited since the Main Phonograph can be manipulated. See On the Phonograph, The Examiner, April 20, 1891 for the original newspaper article.

See BOGUS STOCK GAMBLING." Chief Crowley Says He Will Raid the Phonograph Game for details about creating the prices for stock quotations on the phonograph, playing them back and then recording those quotes on the board. The Examiner, November 7, 1891

See The Phonograph Leak for an example of how the phonograph speculation game, aka clock game, operated and went wrong for the San Francisco Public Stock Exchange. The Examiner, January 19, 1892



FACTOLA, April 13, 1893 - The horse "Phonograph" came in first at the Elizabeth race track paying five to one (reported by The Phonogram, March-April 1893.



FACTOLA, April 1898 - Thomas A. Edison will not talk into his own phonograph. He has persistently refused and gave as his reason: "It would make me sick with disgust," he explained, "to see placarded on phonographs everywhere I turn: 'Drop a nickel in the slot and hear Edison talk.' No, no; noe of that for me."

"The Anecdotal Side of Edison as told by his intimate friends," The Ladies' Home Journal, April 1898, p. 8


FACTOLA, November 1898 - The Edisonia Co., of Newark, N. J. included their telephone number in their November 1898 The Phonoscope ad: TEL. 2232 "B". This was the first advertisement in The Phonoscope to have a telephone number listed.


The Phonoscope, November 1898


FACTOLA, January 15, 1906



FACTOLA, July 18, 1906 - Thomas Edison was given a solid gold cylinder record by the Jobbers of the United States and Canada at the National Phonograph Company's "1906 Edison Phonograph Jobbers" event. The gold record was then played on an Edison Triumph Phonograph and the following address was heard:

Mr. Edison: The record of pure gold which addresses these words to you is a gift from the Jobbers engaged in the distribution of the Edison Phonograph and Records. They have come from the East, the West, the North and the South of this fair land of ours. They are your loyal and admiring friends, your ambassadors of commerce, whose mission it is to distribute your product to the four quarters of the globe. By the touch of your colossal inventive genius you have created industries giving employment to countless thousands the world over. The wheels of commerce occupied in the production of your inventions sing a never-ending song of praise to your magnificent achievements. To the seven existing wonders of the world you added the Phonograph, which is the eighth wonder of the world. It speaks every language uttered by human tongue, and in the field of language study it is the greatest educator the world has ever known. With song and story it will continue till the end of time to entertain the multitudes of the earth who place the name of Thomas A. Edison at the head of the column of the world's greatest captains of industry. (EPM, August 1906)


The Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1906.

"The stand supporting the gold record presented to Mr. Edison is made in solid sterling silver, ornamented with solid gold inlay and surmounted with three beautifully modelled figures, representing music, art and progress. On the sides of three panels are imbedded a portrait of Mr. Edison and appropriate inscriptions of the event." (Ibid.)



FACTOLA, August 15, 1908 - "Probably the highest graphophone store in the world" is in Silver Plume, Colorado "over 9,000 feet above the sea level..."

This 'store in the clouds' factola comes from a talking machine industry trade magazine that was specifically referencing a Columbia Graphophone store (and even qualified it with "probably.") Other phonographs might have been playing at higher altitudes but in 1908 this probably was the highest graphophone store in the world.


The Talking Machine World, August 15, 1908


FACTOLA, April 1909 - The royal Swedish academy presented Thomas A. Edison with the Adelskiold gold medal for his inventions in connection with phonograph and the incandescent light.


The Juniata Herald, April 14, 1909


FACTOLA, 1917 - Phonograph apparatus in World War I used to record heart beats of a French soldier for analysis of physical stamina.

An recording appartus during World War I made a record of the heart beats of a soldier in the French army. The Pathe Phonograph Co. and the French government hoped recordings would provide detailed information of the physical stamina of the soldiers in the French army. "The minutest irregularity in the heart beats is instantly detected."


The Talking Machine World, Feburary 15, 1917


FACTOLA, March 1918 - The play "Why Marry?" is believed to be the first time the complete play has been recorded on talking machine records by all actors in the play.


The Talking Machine World, March 15, 1918


FACTOLA, October 1918 - The only authentic sounds of the First World War are said to be the recording of the gas shell bombardment by the Royal Garrison Artillery, 9th October 1918, preparatory to the British Troops entering Lille, France.

"His Master's Voice" 12" 78 RPM record by the Gramophone Co., Ltd, 1918

This record from ValueYourMusic website was submitted by Allen Koenigsberg who also cautioned that "there may be some controversy over the circumstances of this recording."

ValueYourMusic notes "This record was made by HMV’s top Recording Engineer, Will Gaisberg, outside Lille in France on 9th October 1918 and rushed back to England for issue, but by the time it saw release the Armistice had been signed and, consequently, sales were very poor."

According to The Church of the Epiphany, "by the time the recording was completed, the war was over. Gaisberg had been slightly gassed during the expedition, and fell victim to the flu pandemic and tragically died a month later in November 1918."


FACTOLA, April 1920 - The first record lifter on the market - The Vacuum Record Lifter "raises the record without touching the tone arm..."

The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1920


FACTOLA, 1956 - Phonograph records were put on cereal boxes as a premium to cut-out and play. According to and Discogs the first records were on General Mills' Wheaties cereal boxes in 1956, 78 RPM cut-outs for Walt Disney's Mouseketeer Records of Chip 'N Dale performing "Ten Little Indians" and "The Laughing Song."


1956 The Laughing Song 78 RPM Cut-out record from box of Wheaties


FACTOLA, 1962 - On January 1, 1962 John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best auditioned at Decca's London studio, formally known as a "commercial test." They are reported to have recorded fifteen songs. About a month later, Decca rejected the Beatles. The executives felt that "guitar groups are on the way out" and "the Beatles have no future in show business". (The Beatles. (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco:Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8.)

On 6 June 1962, producer George Martin signed the Beatles to Parlophone.

The rest is history with Decca's business mistake ranking high in the history of recorded sound involving a loss of billions of dollars. Wikipedia, Beatles Decca Audition (12-2-2023).



FACTOLA, 1964 - A circa 1910 gramophone horn was being used for the cover of a storm cellar's air vent in Cotesfield, NE.



FACTOLA, 1971 - "Would you believe..." the Columbia Record & Tape Club offered LPs and 8-track cartridges and tape cassettes and 7" reel-to-reel tapes as new record club options in the 1970's?

The phonograph industry has shared its position of providing recorded music to consumers as new technologies, formats and listening options have evolved. In the 1990's CDs would be another recorded music option and in 2001 Rhapsody would introduce "the first streaming on-demand music subscription service to offer unlimited access to a large library of digital music for a flat monthly fee." (see Wikipedia).

The evolution of the phonograph's revolution has continued into the 21st century but through it all the phonograph and its records continue to revolve. The Phonograph Lives!

Columbia Record & Tape Club, 1979


See ClickAmericana for more examples of Record Club's history and promotions

1971 Order Form for Columbia Record Club



FACTOLA, March 2016 - Walt Whitman did not record his poem "America" or make any phonograph record.

"Famous" voices such as Mark Twain, Robert Browning, P. T. Barnum, Florence Nightingale, Wm. Gladstone, and Alfred Lord Tennyson recorded on wax cylinders in the very early days of the phonograph.

For many years a recording of Walt Whitman's poem "America" was said to have been read by Whitman himself. Current research (up to February 2023) concludes that the Walt Whitman recording was not made by Whitman. According to Allen Koenigsberg it is unknown who made the recording. "The mystery will probably never be solved to everyone's satisfaction, but I think it is safe to say (for now), that the famous American poet who "sang the body electric" only did so on the printed page." (Allen Koenigsberg, "The Gramophone Cylinder of Walt Whitman - Hoax or History," The Antique Phonograph, March 2016, p. 27).



The First Kinetoscope Parlor

FACTOLA, April 14, 1894 - The first commercial exhibition of Edison's Kinetoscope motion pictures opened in the first Kinetoscope parlor, a building and storefront at 1155 Broadway, New York City.


First Day of Issue for stamp celebrfating 50th Anniversary of Motion Pictures on April 14, 1894.


A bust of Edison was located in the front section of the Kinetoscope parlor on opening day but was soon removed. According to Alfred O. Tate, Edison's Private Secretary, a few weeks after the opening "I received a message from Edison asking me to remove it. He thought it undignified."

It is unknown what Edison meant by "undignified" but ironically the first occupant of the 1876 building's storefront had been John Rogers, the famous artist known for his popular "Rogers Group" pieces and who was commonly called the "people's sculptor." Rogers had his first floor studio at 1155 Broadway building from 1876 through 1879.

"The Photograph" - a two-piece sculpture set in the Rogers Group, 1878.



Interior of first Kinetoscope parlor, 1155 Broadway, New York, in April 1894 (as seen in History of the Kinetograph Kinetoscope and Phono-Kinetograph) by W. K. L. Dickson and Antonia Dickson, p. 53 ©1895.


In the article "The Birthplace of Movies" by Christopher Gray (New York Times, February 9, 1992) Gray wrote that the Kinetoscope parlor "at the southwest corner of 27th Street was a neo-Grec style building built in 1876 where Rogers would live until at least 1879.

Gray also noted that "the Kinetoscope was superseded only two years later by projected motion pictures, first exhibited in 1896 at Koster & Bial's Theater on West 34th Street...A turn-of-the-century street view shows the 27th Street building with extensive signage for the Edison phonograph -- presumably the Kinetoscope operation was open for only a year or two."


"The Traveling Magician" advertisement, March 30, 1878 Harper's Weekly showing 1155 Broadway as the address for the John Rogers studio.


The Traveling Magician, John Rogers, 1877 (Courtesy New York Historical Society)

Signed at proper right corner top of base: "JOHN ROGERS / NEW YORK / 1877" -- 1877 was of course also the year that Edison completed his Phonograph ( December 6, 1877).






Last revised February 10, 2023.