Movie Slides Advertising the Phonograph


By Doug Boilesen, 2023

The phonograph and moving pictures had close associations ever since Thomas Edison started working on his kinetoscope which he intended to display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Edison's kinetoscope was to be a device where a viewer watched moving pictures. The kinetoscope, said Edison, would do for the eye what the phonograph did for the ear. But Edison also wanted to combine moving pictures and sound creating a new and even more wonderous multimedia entertainer.

When moving pictures moved from Edison's peep-show kinetoscope to projectors that projecting device allowed multiple people to attend and watch a screen. Like other products and services, the phonograph advertisers realized that this was an audience sitting and waiting for the movie to start. And while they were waiting for that screen to display its 'photoplay' the phonograph advertisers had the opportunity to tell them about their home entertainer and where they could get one.



Edison offered lantern slides of his "Old Couple" decalcomania to Edison Dealers, especially designed for use at moving picture shows, magic lantern exhibitions, etc., at a price of 35c each in plain black and white, or 90c in colors. Edison Phonograph Monthly, February 1910.


The Talking Machine World, March 15, 1920, p. 69


"Music unites the family. Beautiful songs knit hearts together and make the home happier." Pathe Phonograph advertising slide, Standard Slide Corp. circa 1922. (FP609)


The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1921


The Talking Machine World, June 15, 1920, p. 3.

The Lehman Music house In St. Louis provided a Victrola and the records "Hindustan" and "Dying Poet" to a movie theatre after seeing the film "Why Change Your Wife." In that film Mr. Lehman had seen a machine playing those songs and realized the advertising opportunity he would have if he could replace the orchestra at just the proper time with the Victrola music.

Lehman also created a colored slide which invited the audience to visit his store and hear more records. With the house in darkness, Lehman also arranged to have a spotlight reveal a Victrola which was on the stage. "Now this is the kind of advertising which is well worth emulating" noted The Talking Machine World.


Columbia's offer of color movie slides based on current b-w magazine advertisements for their dealers "with hand-lettered imprint on each slide." The Talking Machine World, September 15, 1920.


"Many customers want a record to remember the show. It is through the medium of the record that they remember the show." The Talking Machine World, December 15, 1920, pp.150, 152.


"Peggy O'Neil" Emerson moving picture slide, The Talking Machine World, May 15, 1921



Sonora dealer provided a Sonora Portable to a theatre to use in the movie "The Barbarian" to be played "at the proper time", The Talking Machine World, May 15, 1921


New Columbia Movie Slides, The Talking Machine World, May 15, 1922


New Sonora Movie Slides, The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1923


Victor Talking Machine Co. Movie Slides, The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1923


"Put a display of Swanson Portables and a sign" in your windows for the important part the Swanson Portable Phonograph plays in the upcoming movie "The Wanters." The Talking Machine World, September 15, 1923


New Okeh Movie Slides, The Talking Machine World, November 15, 1923


Sonora Portable Phonograph Movie Slides, The Talking Machine World, June 15, 1926