The Phonograph


Form 935 Advertising Card - Delighted and Amazed 1905


"The Phonograph," read the back of one of 800,000 Edison advertising post cards, "depicts the delighted amazement of an old couple upon hearing a Phonograph for the first time."


Form 935 ©1905



Form 1380 postcard

Issued by the National Phonograph Company, Orange, N.J. 1906



Here is what the Edison Phonograph Monthly said about this painting and the upcoming Edison advertising campaign in March 1906:

A STRIKING OIL PAINTING. A calendar for 1906 was mailed to the entire trade early in January. Its principal feature was a reproduction by the three-color process of an oil painting of an old couple listening in delighted amazement to an Edison Phonograph for the first time. The original of this picture was painted by Massani, a noted Italian painter. It was imported a year ago by William Johnson, then of Fifth avenue, New York city. Its first public exhibition in this country was at the Chalfonte Hotel, Atlantic City, where Mr. Johnson had an extensive exhibit of paintings, and where it was priced at $1,050. It was there bought by the National Phonograph Co. It is now being reproduced in a handsome and life-like manner in fourteen colors of lithography, and copies will later be distributed to the trade. This reproduction will be the full size of the original painting, 17 x 25 inches. It will be worth a place in any home. Other uses of the painting will follow. The subject is universally regarded as one of the most striking ever put out in connection with a talking machine.

The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1906




Back side of Form 935 Advertising Card for H. J. Ebenreiter, Pianos, Organs, Furniture and Undertaking, Plymouth, WIsconsin




The first of the paintings by Massani, however, "shows an elderly man listening to a "Puck style" cylinder phonograph." For details about this painting see "Lost and Found The Massani-Edison Painting Mystery" by Allen Koenigsberg in Volume 11 Number 2 of the Antique Phonograph Monthly (where the following painting also comes from).


The oil painting known as "The Phonograph" was painted by Professor P. Massani of Florence and was purchased by an Edison agent in April 1905. This version (see below) now has the old couple but still has a Puck cylinder phonograph. After its purchase the entire design was recopied by an American artist who substituted" an Edison Standard for the Puck. (2)


The Massani painting that was purchased in April 1905 with the couple and the Puck cylinder phonograph and is now on display at the Edison Winter Home at Fort Myers, Florida (courtesy of the Edison and Ford Winter Home and APM).



The original old couple Massani painting with Puck phonograph on display at Edison Winter Home at Fort Myers, Florida (courtesy of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates).







Magazine ad, December 1906




The Edison Phonograph Monthly, April 1907



By 1908, however, Edison's advertising manager was ready to retire "the old couple":

"As an ordinary illustration, we have used it about as much as could be expected....While the uses we have made of the old couple have been satisfactory to the trade and we have had many favorable expressions concerning it, the trade, from my observation, constantly wants something new in the way of illustrated matter. New folders, new cards, new lithographs, new posters, etc., in my opinion, have a greater selling value than the continued use of one subject like the dog or the old couple."

Letter from L. C. McChesney to W. E. Gilmore, President of The National Phonograph Co., January, 1908