The Phonograph and Happy Homes


Phonograph advertisements with scenes of the happy family gathered around the phonograph and every member enthralled by whatever was playing was a pervasive advertising image. Promoted for its variety and unlimited entertainment there was something for everyone.

As a family entertainer it "is the favorite of all home folks, big and little" and "is surely needed--with its promise of many happy musical years to come."

"Everybody likes it -- from baby to grandmother."

"Fortunate are the homes" where the phonograph and its "gift of beautiful music" has entered the home.

In the following ads the happiness of the home is displayed with the phonograph providing joy, pleasure, contentment, and satisfaction. Each ad "speaks for itself" and supports the seemingly definitive answer to the question what is the best gift for the whole family.


Everybody's Magazine, December 1905 (PM-0881)




"The Graphophone Makes Merriment All the Year Round." Ainslee's Magazine, November 1898


"A Joy at Home." The Saturday Evening Post, November 21, 1903 (1/12 page ad)


"Entertains the Whole Family," Omaha Bee newspaper, April 16, 1905


"Everybody enjoys it--from baby up." Munsey's Magazine 1902



The Victor Talking Machine's promotional brochure "The Victor for Every Day in the Week" starts by addressing Mothers on the importance of instilling a love of wholesome entertainment in every child: "Good music has been proven to accomplish that goal and making "Home the dearest and best place on earth to boys and girls," and the Victor "next to Mother Love" will do more towards accomplishing this than any other thing."

The Victor for Every Day In the Week, c.1906



The Talking Machine World, June 15, 1906 with an Edison ad promoting what Edison was using in periodicals for June 1906.


"The voice by the fireside" - "You listen and forget it's the Victor" 1906 (PM-1365)


"The Secret of the Happy Home - A Columbia Graphophone," Munsey's Magazine, 1906. "Before buying either a talking machine or records, insist on hearing the Columbia, and be convinced, like the Music Master, that they are the best."


"There is nothing so good for the family as laughing...The Edison Phonograph is able to furnish good, hearty, wholesome fun." 1906, The Red Book


"Home Sweet Home," Munsey's Magazine, 1906


At the Summer Home, 1906


"Home Sweet Home," 1907


Columbia Record Catalogue, January 1907


"No end of pleasure for all the family!"1907 Newspaper ad, The Commoner (courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE)


"One touch of melody makes the whole world kin" by J. J. Gould, Colliers, 1908


The child that is absolutely happy..."every mother...should have an Edison Phonograph." Colliers, 1908


"Everybody's Happy", The Saturday Evening Post, 1911


Not "another gift will bring so much pleasure to every member of the family." c.1911


Good Housekeeping Magazine, December 1912



Elegance and the comfort of home - Columbia 1914


Life, 1914 (PM-2059)


The Victrola "will bring the greatest pleasure to every member of your family." The Theatre Magazine, October 1914.


"For the youngsters' frolic, for the entertainment of your friends, for the dancing hours..." Cosmopolitan, March 1915


In quality and "in infinite variety -- the Columbia may truly be termed an exponent of what is best and most representative in the musical lore and literature of every age." Munsey's 1915.


"The gift for all the family." The Theatre Magazine, December, 1914

No other gift "will bring so much pleasure to every member of the family." The Theatre Magazine, December, 1914

The Theatre Magazine, March, 1915


Sheet music courtesy of The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins University.

This 1916 sheet music, At Home With My Pathe Pathéphone, was essentially an advertisement for Pathé and for the happy home -- "it's home, sweet home for mine" made possible by a phonograph.

"They talk about the pleasures of the picture show, But it's home for mine,

They rave about their clubs and such, of course, they're fine, But home is where I shine."

"Take it in the ev'ning when the day is done, That's the time that I can have a little fun.

A playing on my Pathé Pathéphone, My Pathé phone --- oh, catch that tone."

"All the Music of All the World" -- into your home today. Columbia Graphophone, 1916


Music is essential to the home. Thomas A. Edison Dealer Book, 1917


The Columbia Grafonola's gift of beautiful music "brings a new and different pleasure to every member of the family" The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1918


"The mirror of music" for the whole family, 1916


Every member of the family will enjoy it. "For no one is too young or too old to appreciate the Stewart Phonograph." 1916


The Need for Music, The Talking Machine World, February 1918


Alter and brighten your whole life because it brings to you the music of the world's greatest artists to cheer, refine, educate and uplift, circa 1916 Victrola


"A Joyful Surprise for Christmas Morning, " The Aeolian-Vocalian, The Saturday Evening Post, 1919. "The Gift of a Phonograph is Always Welcome, Doubly So If It Is the World's Greatest Phonograph - The Aeolian-Vocalian." (PM-2119)


"A Perfect Musical Instrument" The Talking Machine World, 1919


Keep Your Home Cheerful, The Talking Machine World Supplement, February 1919


Columbia music is joyous music and will put real, heart-filling joy into your Christmas. The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1919



"Gives New Beauty to Record Music"Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1919


"Give your family a Columbia Grafonola with Columbia Records for Christmas." Music right at your fireside. Pictorial Review, December 1920


"Fortunate are the children in homes made musical by the Columbia Grafonola." Columbia 1920


Sears Silvertone Phonograph advertising postcard, circa 1920


Victrola Ad, 1920


"There's lasting satisfaction in owning a Victrola." The Delineator, 1921 (PM-2028)


"Victrola homes are happiest" 1922


"Victrola homes are happiest," 1922


"Music Unites the Family," Glass Advertising Magic Lantern Slide, Pathé circa 1922. "Beautiful songs knit hearts together and make the home happier." (FP0609)


Magnavox Radio is as important to radio as the phonograph is to music." The Talking Machine World, October 1922.


1899 - What will you do during the Long Winter Evenings? - A Phonograph, of course.

ca. 1899 - What will you do in the long, cold dark, shivery evenings? - The Phonograph


1922 - What will you do during the Long Winter Evenings? - A Radio solves this problem.

Crosley Radio, The Talking Machine World, November 1922


"Just a Song at Twilight" - Eagle Radio, 1925


"'Super-Het' brings home the fun!" - Radiola, Scientific American, January 1925


Music from far away - but with a turn of the dial "You are part of the audience" - Radiola, The Literary Digest for March 7, 1925.


Radiola for Christmas, 1926


The Orthophonic Victrola saved the day! The Ladies' Home Journal, 1926


"In the Evening...this congenial companion which gives so much and asks so little" The Ladies' Home Journal, 1926


General Motors Queen Anne Radio-Phonograph with Visual Tone Selector, December 1930. "What other gift could possibly bring so much of lasting pleasure!" (FOTP)

"Whenever you wish, for the instruction of your children, or the entertainment of friends, the world's artists are on hand to please you!" General Electric Radio-Phonograph, 1944 (FOTP).



"put on the records, settle back, and the permanent treasures of the world's music are at your command." General Electric, 1941


"Music on a Beam of Light" for the Pleasures of Home and Family

"For the Pleasures of Home and Family", Philco Radio-Phonograph, 1942.


"thousands of music lovers thank the Magnavox -- the Magnavox and its capacity for capturing all the poignant delicacy of Chopin's immortal gift," 1945

"This superb instrument is one of the better things in life you can give your family." Magnavox 1946


1951 Zenith High Fidelity Demonstration Record


The Magic of Music in the Home, RCA Victor, 1950


Television - Another dimension to Home Theatre

Recorded sound brought music and a variety of entertainment into the home.

As seen in the early phonograph advertisements the home as the stage of the world offered "unlimited entertainment" with performers visualized and experienced in your home the same as if you went to the opera or the theatre or other live performance.

Radio was one step closer to the live performance as it could bring an actual performance of the Opera through the air in real time. But this still required visualization of those scenes and performers.

After the phonograph was invented there were futurists describing the 'complete" theatre for the home in the not too distant future. Descriptions relied on combinations of what they already understood such as the phonograph, the telephone and in the 1890's the addition of moving pictures. A "seeing telephone" and an 'Electric vision apparatus" or the combination of the kinetoscope, phonograph and telephone were thought to be ways that future home theatre might be delivered to the home.

Advertisers, of course, always found different ways to highlight the benefits of home entertainment. The convenience and comfort and cost savings of not going out to live performances were common themes. But the following Edison ad graphically showed another way that home entertainment could keep the man of the house from going out in the evening. It's an image that seems to say that without a phonograph in the home life would be too dull and a man would therefore need to seek other entertainment.


"Make home a competitor of downtown, the club, the café, the theatre and the concert hall." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, February 1907


S.C. Gilfillan, in 1912 said this about "The Future Home Theatre":
"The home theater, in contrast to most modern developements, will tend powerfully to preserve the home, as the newspaper has by superseding the Athenian barbershop, the Roman forum and the Queen Anne coffee house. And to those who live in small towns and the country the home theater will be a minister of life." The Independent, October 17, 1912, p. 891

The Meeting Place for Fun - Sparton Radio-Phonograph, 1946


"There's a revolution taking place in American family life."1948 DuMont Television Ad


There is great happiness in the home where the family is held together by this new common bond - television. Dumont Television ad, 1950


TV Happiness Shared by the Family, Motorola's combination TV, AM/FM radio and 3 speed phonograph, 1951. Motorola's "Golden Voice" tone that's as rich and true as the original sound itself.