PhonoElegance

Removing the Horn from the Room

 

In August of 1906 a significant change took place that would refine and redefine talking machines.in 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 rendition...in phonographic reproduction...now 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

 



 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phonographia