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, 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 with records revolving and playing "bottled up" music and speech on-demand anytime, anywhere and as often as you wanted.

Additionally, phonographs are memorable for their advertisements which are prototypes for future home entertainment devices. Phonograph ads had some of the typical consumer marketing appeals such as being a necessity for a happy home. But they also made unique promises by offering "the best seat in the house" and reminding all consumers that personal entertainment, previously limited to a king or a millionaire or the possessor of Aladdin's lamp, was now available to everyone.


"When the King of England..." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1906

As a consumer product, the phonograph offered its diverse entertainment to any home. The homes in these ads, however, were often scenes of comfort or wealth. These advertised images of privilege showed consumers how the wealthiest homes were enjoying music, as was also the intention of the phonograph ads promoting opera recordings and high culture entertainment. Additionally, opera and its opera stars in many early phonograph ads played influential roles by saying their performances are just for you, in your own home, and are the equivalent of hearing live music in opera halls.


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. And other recordings featuring "famous bands and orchestras, popular singers and comedians" were also prominent in early phonograph advertisements. But a happy family and the home as one's castle (be it ever so humble) were embedded values in American popular culture. And regardless of wealth or where one lived, if your family could be happier and could enjoy the same entertainment of the privileged then owning a phonograph was surely an appealing prospect.


"Home Sweet Home," postcard, circa 1910


Edison added his own detail to the American Dream and "Home Sweet Home" in a 1907 ad saying "I want to see a Phonograph in Every American Home." (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 has 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.

For some thematic and other serendipitous musings see Assorted topics and observations by DB.

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

One final note. The galleries of Phonographia contain images from my personal collection, text from my unpublished 1981 book "Hats Off to the Phonograph!" and text and themes from my Legacy Phonograph Exhibit kiosk. When I started this website in 2001 a decision was made to put all of this on the web as a "Friend of the Phonograph." Read and enjoy and if you use images or text please credit Phonographia.com to promote the legacy of the Phonograph.

That is all.

Doug Boilesen a.k.a. DB




10" x 14" circa ;1899 broadside advertising the "Finest Entertainer in the World"

“Every home will sooner or later have its phonograph as a necessity”

Courtesy of rareamerican.com