About This Site



Phonographia are popular culture connections with the phonograph.

As a virtual scrapbook (1) phonographia are paper ephemera from magazines, newspapers, ads, cartoons, postcards, books and other daily life memorabilia.

Two factolas to remember 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 you wanted.

Additionally, advertisements for phonographs were prototypes for future home entertainment devices. Phonograph ads had some typical consumer marketing appeals such as being a necessity for a happy home. But they also made unique promises offering "the best seat in the house" with 'live' entertainment captured on records for home and personal listening. To have such performances 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..." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1906

"The whole family will welcome the new songs, the good stories, and the bright music." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, 1912

As a consumer product the phonograph offered its diverse entertainment to any home. Advertised homes, however, were often scenes of comfort or wealth. These homes showed consumers how the upper classes were enjoying music which was also the intention of the phonograph ads promoting opera records and high culture entertainment. Opera and its opera stars in many early phonograph ads played influential roles supporting the advertising themes that their performances were just for you and were the equivalent of hearing live music in opera halls.


"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 and orchestras, popular singers, and comedians on phonograph records made it an incomparable entertainer. 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 you could hear, including opera. "You can touch the button and get any kind of music, any sort of entertainment that appeals to the sense of hearing."


"Home Sweet Home," postcard, circa 1910


Edison was explicit that his Phonograph was the "perfect musical instrument" and should be in every American home stating in a 1907 ad "I want to see a Phonograph in Every American Home." And there was no reason to wait. "On Free Trial. No Money Down. No C.O.D." (3)

Phonograph ads, popular culture connections, phonograph ephemera, and the "small stories"(4) related to the phonograph entering the home could be called the B-side of phonograph history. (4A) And it's these B-side pieces that are the focus of phonographia.com, hopefully contributing to the overall "prismatic recollection of history."(5)

Named like any Friend of the Phonograph would expect for phonograph related galleries, readers will find a variety of connections and perhaps some whimsy in pages titled PhonoArt, PhonoToons, PhonoDrinks, Factolas, PhonoAds, PhonoFood, PhonoLyrics, PhonoLiterature, etc.

Additionally, Friends of the Phonograph have their own subgallery featuring personal memories about the phonograph, celebrations and other phonograph related stories.

Phonographia.com is popular culture connections with many hyperlinks. Since this is neither a book nor a linear history its links hopefully add value without being distractions "in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks." (7)

For several angles on my life-long interest with talking machines and phonograph ephemera see Collecting and Phonographia - One Collector's Perspective.

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

For a brief overview of the phonograph's history including its relationship with other sound delivering devices see The Evolution of a Revolution.

And, of course, Phonographia's Table of Contents lists all the primary level galleries of this site.

If you use images or text please credit Phonographia.com or respective credits as applicable.


That is all.

Doug Boilesen a.k.a. DB





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