Edison Silhouette Ads


By Doug Boilesen, 2020

Edison used silhouettes in 1906 and 1907 in advertisements telling stories of the phonograph providing home entertainment befitting a king; entertaining and thereby keeping the man of the house at home; and even John Philip Sousa admitting (according to Edison) that "people will no longer go to concerts if they can have music in their own homes so easily and as cheaply as they can with the Edison Phonograph." It was Sousa, of course, who in April 1906 had called phonograph music "canned music" in his Appleton's Magazine article "The Menace of Mechanical Music").

Silhouettes had been a popular art form in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The following Edison phonograph advertisements are examples of "silhouttes" in popular culture featuring black cut-out images on white paper.


Edison Ad, Ainslee's Magazine, 1900 (PM-0938)


The Red Book, 1906 (PM-0949)


Edison ad, December 1906


The Edison Phonograph Monthly, Edison ads for January 1907


The Edison Phonograph Monthly, Edison ads for February 1907


The Ladie's Home Journal, February 1907, p. 59




The National Magazine, Edison Phonographs, National Phonograph Company, 1907 (Disclaimer)


"Round the horn with Edison, a delightful voyage -- sail into our Phonograph department and hear the latest records."

Edison ad by local jobber as seen in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1907

Advertisement by Iver Johnson's Sporting Goods Co., 163 Washington St.


System Magazine, 1909


Edison Dictating Machine, Printers Ink, 1914


For examples of the Columbia Graphophone Company's use of silhouettes in their ads see Phonographia's Silhouette Ads - Columbia.