Removing the Horn from the Room


In August of 1906 a significant change took place that would refine and redefine talking the home. A new product-line called the Victor-Victrola was introduced and aesthetically it helped the talking machine to more easily find its place in the home. The talking machine's external horn was gone -- moved inside the cabinet -- and in so doing the Victrola in popular culture became fine furniture, a musical instrument and a trademark that would become a generic term for all talking machines, like Kodak for cameras and Kleenex for tissues.


This lovely 1908 poster advertising the Edison Phonograph shows Edison's attempt at elegance for his cylinder phonograph with the artist Guernsey Moore appealing to the popular culture interest in Japanese culture that had developed in the 1880's for Japanese prints, and parasols and paper lanterns. This image is particularly interesting because it included a flowered horn, something for which Edison's own dealers would complain about since Edison didn't offer flowered horns as standard equipment so that this horn is not something you would see in the Edison Stores.

With the introduction of the Victor-Victrola, however, flowered horns would be the least of Edison's challenges. Internal horn machines that played disc records would soon dominate the market and period piece phonographs would become highly advertised options in the late teens and 1920's. Advertisements showing wealthy homes would be displayed as "suiting the music to the room." These musical instruments would now be "worthy of a place in any home."


Victor Talking Machine Company, 1910



Victor Talking Machine Company, 1913



"Worthy of a place in any home." Period Grafonola - Italian Renaissance and Adam Designs, The Ladies' Home Journal, October 1918



Period Grafonola - Chinese Chippendale, The Ladies' Home Journal, March 1919



Period Grafonola - Queen Anne, The Literary Digest, February 8, 1919



Period Grafonola - Louis XVI Design 1919



Italian Renaissance Milano, Sonora 1921



Brunswick first by "achieving perfect phonographic turns its talent to combining fine music with fine furniture." 1922




Brunswick - a noteworthy combination of fine music with fine furniture, 1922




Aeolian-Vocalion (early Georgian Period) advertisement, 1923



Aeolian-Vocalion (Quenn Anne Period) advertisement, 1923



Aeolian-Vocalion (Elizabethan Period) advertisement, 1923



Brunswick Brochure, 1920



Brunswick Brochure, 1920



Brunswick Brochure, 1920



"Finer phonographs are unknown." Brunswick Brochure, 1920



Christmas Message from the World's Greatest Artists, Victrola 1919



"The Victrola -- the only instrument that brings the world's greatest artists into your home," Victrola Brochure, 1919



"The finest gift of all!" "The most brilliant opera house in the world can offer no such great company of artists as that shown above...Victrola" 1924



Edison Period Furniture, 1919



Custom Victrolas available, 1924







"Beauty to match the superb music" The Ladies Home Journal 1926



The Radio-Phonograph


When the radio entered the home in the early 1920's you listened with headphones or a speaker. Like the phonograph, the radio was advertised as a wonder and a necessity for lovers of fine music. The variety of what you could listen to on the radio, however, soon made it obvious that it really did have the power to bring the whole world into your home. And that entertainment 'over the air waves' was free.

By the late 1920's cabinets containing a radio and a phonograph were being offered and just like the evolution of the phonograph the horns of the radios moved inside cabinets. The cabinet became part of the marketing with period pieces for a radio an elegant option.

The RCA Radiola, December 1929

RCA (now the owner of the Victor Talking Machine) advertised their Radiola in combination with electrical phonograph as "Music from the air or record." Like the Victrola that evolved from the Victor, RCA called their radio the "Radiola." See the "Ola Brands" for examples of phonographs being named 'olas' and some examples of radio companies likewise incorporating that suffix.



Musaphonic Elegance

In the 1940's General Electric's Musaphonic radio-phonograph had an advertising campaign featuring the elegance and pleasure the Musaphonic could add to your home.

Notice in the following three ads, for "you who love music," how the designer dressed women are featured in elegant atmospheres with the Musaphonic offering the consumer "a new world of pleasure," and how dress designers and master craftsmen creating the period furniture were acknowledged for their contributions to this elegant room.


GE Musaphonic, The National Geographic Magazine, 1946 (Jay Thorpe original gown by Czettel)




GE Musaphonic, The National Geographic Magazine, 1944 (Gown designed by Mildred O'Quinn exclusively for Gunther)





GE Musaphonic, The National Geographic Magazine, 1944 (Negligee by Edward J. Macksoud Company)