Shopping for a Phonograph

"This Columbia Grafonola looks mighty good to me. Let's go down town and hear it."


Phonograph advertisers had many themes to choose from to encourage the purchase of a phonograph. But an important goal in phonograph advertisements was ask consumers to visit a dealer and listen for themselves. "Hearing is Believing" said the Columbia ads.

Let's go down town and hear it," says the husband to his wife in the above Columbia Grafonola ad.

Courtesy of Collections of Maine Historical Society (2)



1908 C. B. Haynes & Co., Richmond, Virginia



Hannibal, Missouri Music Store with Phonographs, 1910


A 1926 Crescent Phonograph ad offered this explanation: "People make mistakes in choosing phonographs because they do not know how to choose. "Ask a dealer to play a Crescent Phonograph side by side with any other instrument that you have in mind. Play the same record on each and let your own ear judge which tone sounds best to you."

You could order a phonograph by mail and have it delivered and never enter a phonograph store.

Nevertheless, a standard part of magazine ads was to invite the reader to visit a dealer and hear it for themselves.

The following advertisements feature scenes of 'shopping' with the final decision said to be easy if you listen to their machine.


"Can you send it home today?" - The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1918




"Buy Edison Records. Dealers everywhere have them." Munsey's magazine, 1900




"Look for the Dog if you want to hear this music at its very best." The Booklovers Magazine, 1904




"Only asks a hearing." McClure's magazine 1904




Columbia's 'Music Master' helping Madam with her record selection, 1906




Columbia's 'Music Master' is "delighted" with the marvelous tone of Columbia Records. "I am annoyed that any choose the tin-type when at their command is the tone phonograph so perfect, of the Columbia Record." Pearson's magazine, 1906





The 'Music Master' has a 'great idea" for your Holiday purchases. "One gift for the whole family -- The Columbia Graphophone." Munsey's magazine, 1906




"The Victor For Every Day in the Week" brochure - Delivery of the Victor and Victor records. 1907


Ordering the Edison Amberola 30 - F.K. Babson Catalogue, Edison Phonograph Distributor




The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1907





"Offering your customer" record cabinets to go with their phonograph. The Talking Machine World, November 15, 1911


"Hearing is Believing" - Columbia Grafonola, Cosmopolitan, 1912





Make your decision based on "three vital features", Hearst's magazine, December 1915 (Source Internet Archive, Charles Perrien)


"Buying a Phonograph the Columbia Way" - Columbia Grafonola, Ladies' Home Journal, 1918



The Pleasant Business of Buying a Grafonola, The Ladies' Home Journal, 1918





"You Forget You are in a Store" Columbia ad, April 1918





The Inevitable Choice, March 1919 The National Geographic






The Brunswick Shop Sales Receipt ready for writing up a sale, circa 1923




Some one of the beautiful new models of the Othrophonic Victrola will suit your income and your home, The Ladies' Home Journal, 1926






"Let your own ear judge..."

"Quality of reproduction -- or TONE -- counts most in your selection of a phonograph." Crescent Talking Machine Co., 1928



Hear it! Magestic Radio-Phonograph, 1930




STOP! LOOK! and LISTEN! Stromberg-Carlson, 1948