About This Site

Phonographia.com

 

Phonographia are phonograph connections displayed in a website which could be called a virtual scrapbook of connections.

Each connection has a string going from the phonograph with most being one to one connections. Some, however, have multiple degrees of separation which require multiple strings to complete the phonographia connection. The end point of each string can be a focal point with its own story.

Popular culture examples in Phonographia feature phonograph ads, ephemera and related connections in the arts and daily life. These are part of the B-Side of the phonograph's history.

Two key factolas about the phonograph:

1) The Phonograph changed the human perception of ephemeral sound.

2) The Phonograph was a machine that started a social and cultural revolution. Records revolved and played "bottled up" music and speech anytime, anywhere and as often as wanted.

 

Phonograph Advertisements

The purpose of advertising is to persuade the consumer that a product is needed and specifically that yours is the one that should be purchased. Early phonograph ads used standard consumer oriented themes to show that the phonograph was a necessity (particularly for a happy home); was the best gift for everyone in the family; was a wonder; was superior, improved, best value, etc.; or was described with some attribute that no competitor supposedly could match.

 

The Best Seat in the House!

Phonograph ads would also become prototypes for descendent home entertainment devices. It was the first product for the home to make the unique promise of providing "the best seat in the house" with 'live' entertainment captured on records. To have such performances in the home was likened to everyone being able to to enjoy entertainment previously limited to kings or millionaires or the possessor of Aladdin's lamp.

"When the King of England wants to see a show they bring the show to the castle..." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1906.

 

 

"In this country we are all kings...we simply buy an Edison Phonograph..." said the Edison ad in 1906 (Ibid.)

A 1903 Victor ad used the greetings from the Queen of England as evidence of the special listening experience possible for anyone owning the Victor Talking Machine. "With all the money at their command, the friends of the King and Queen could not secure anything that would produce so great a sensation and give so much pleasure as The Victor Talking Machine."

 

The Prestige of Opera and the Phonograph

The homes in the phonograph advertisements were often scenes of comfort or wealth. Consumers saw images of how the upper class was enjoying music and how opera recordings and high culture entertainment were part of those privileged homes. Opera and its opera stars accordingly played influential roles in early phonograph ads supporting the advertising themes that live performances were now available to anyone who owned a phonograph. Performances heard in your own home were said to be the equivalent of hearing live music in Opera Houses.

"You can touch the button and get any kind of music, any sort of entertainment that appeals to the sense of hearing." Munsey's Magazine, May 1898.

No one, of course, became a member of the privileged class or an actual patron of the Metropolitan Opera House by simply purchasing a phonograph. But opera records did provide high-class prestige for the phonograph industry, and the famous bands, orchestras, popular singers, storytellers and comedians on phonograph records could be promoted as incomparable all-in-one entertainers. The phonograph, it was repeatedly said, offered something for everyone. Every family could be happier listening to its entertainment because there were no limits to what could be heard.

 

The B-Side of Phonograph History

Phonographia are the B-Side of the phonograph's history told by its innumerable popular culture connections.

The "lists" and galleries in Phonographia are not intended to be definitive. The history of individual phonographs is out of scope. Each example attempts to consider context and show the phonograph as part of popular culture, often as a consumer product competing with other products inside and outside of the phonograph industry.

Endnotes are used for citations and additional information.

Many citations are embedded in the text and referenced in the style of George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo where quotations from historical sources are spoken followed by the citations making those citations part of the story.

Hopefully the connections and interconnections will not seem like you're "in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks." (7)

To read about my life-long interest with talking machines and phonograph ephemera see Collecting and Phonographia - One Collector's Perspective.

For a one-off perspective of "What's It All About?" read About This Site - Postscript.

Please contact this site about any information that is incorrect, missing appropriate credits, or simply comments as correspondence is always welcome.

Enjoy!

Doug Boilesen a.k.a. DB, a Friend of the Phonograph.

 

EVERY HOME WILL sooner or later have its PHONOGRAPH as a NECESSITY.

10" x 14" circa ;1899 broadside advertising the "Finest Entertainer in the World" (Courtesy of rareamerican.com).

 

 

 

Hats off to the Phonograph! is my 1982 unpublished book which is the source for many of Phonographia.com's themes and examples of phonograph connections in popular culture.

See Hats off to the Phonograph! for more details about my time-travel glimpses of the phonograph's history.










Phonographia.com