About This Site



Phonographia are phonograph connections with the Phonograph.

Each connection has a string going from the phonograph to whatever completes that connection.

This site is a virtual scrapbook of those connections.

Most phonographia connections are one to one with many of those examples displayed within the context of a phonograph related theme or phonograph advertising. 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 and its own storyteller.

Popular culture examples in Phonographia feature phonograph ads, ephemera and related connections in the arts and daily life. I call this the B-Side history of the phonograph.

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 your product is needed and specifically that yours is the one that should be purchased. Early phonograph ads post-1895 used standard consumer oriented themes to show that the phonograph was a necessity for the home (particularly for a happy home); was the best gift that could be given for everyone in the family; was superior, improved, wonderful, best value; or was described with some attribute that no competitor supposedly could match.


The Best Seat in the House!

Phonograph ads also became prototypes for descendent home entertainment devices. It was the first product for the home to make the unique promise of offering "the best seat in the house" with its 'live' entertainment captured on records for home and personal entertainment. 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 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 further evidence of the listening experience and how distinguished membership came with 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 classes were 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 with their performances heard in your own home 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 you could hear.


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. 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 articles themselves, fully referencing their sources in the style of George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo where quotations from historical sources are spoken followed by the citations making those part of the text and story.

The connections and interconnections leading from the galleries hopefully 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 or is missing appropriate credits, etc. Correspondence is also always welcome.


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 the 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.