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94/57/1 Gramophone and accessories, with records (4), hand wound, metal / wood / felt / leather, made by Berliner Gramophone Co, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America, 1893-1896. Click to enlarge.

Berliner Gramophone

Designed
The Berliner gramophone is one of the foremost examples of the earliest talking machines produced. Berliner was the first company in the world to produce disc records commercially and this was the machine on which to play them.

Emile Berliner patented his invention in 1887 (patent 372786 for a Gramophone using a non-wax disc photo-engraved with a lateral-cut groove). In 1888 Berliner demonstrated an improved gramophone at the Franklin Institute using a flat seven inch disk with lateral-cut grooves on one side only (manually rotated at 30 rpm with two minute capacity).

Edison had first recorded a human voice on his experimental tinfoil cylinder recorder in 1877 and was continuing experiments with wax cylinders at this time, however he and other recording pioneers were unable to mass-produce copies of their machines.

Berliner originally manufactured the gramophone as a toy in Germany in 1889. It was first manufactured commercially in Washington in 1893 with great success, the following year Berliner made and sold 1000 machines and 25000 records (7-inch hard rubber discs). After that the gramophone was manufactured in Philadelphia. In 1896 Fred Gaisberg discovered that shellac was an improvement upon the hard rubber records - the museum acquired this machine with four such records. This Berliner gramophone was manufactured in Philadelphia and dates from about 1896.

Emile Berliner also developed the carbon microphone transmitter that varied the contact pressure between two terminals as a voice acted on it. Berliner, then only 25, sold his patent to the young Bell Telephone Company for $50,000.

The early history of this particular machine is not known. It entered the phonograph collection of Mr Warren Trexler in about 1958 where it remained until the early 1980s. The Berliner, auctioned in March 1984, was purchased by Mr Mark S. Kaplan, a dealer who operated a company in New York called Musique. The machine made its way to a private Australian collection and was donated to the Powerhouse museum by that collector in 1994.

Summary

Object No.

94/57/1

Object Statement

Gramophone and accessories, with records (4), hand wound, metal / wood / felt / leather, made by Berliner Gramophone Co, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America, 1893-1896

Physical Description

Hand cranked gramophone with a wooden base, the base has four metal feet. Metal hand crank with a brown Bakelite handle linked to a triple pulley, this mechanism is set on a decorated painted metal stand. The hand crank is linked to the cast fly wheel via a black neoprene belt. The fly wheel turns the cast metal disc platter that is covered on the top with green felt. The platter is held out of playing position by a small rubber washer. A metal reproducer slips through a metal loop at the end of a wooden arm, to a leather elbow joint that holds the black and gold painted metal horn. The horn rest on a metal support at the other end of the wooden arm. This whole arm set-up slips into a hollow Bakelite stand via a pivoted metal prong on one end of the arm. The other end of the arm, with the reproducer, rests on a metal stand when the gramophone is not in use.
The gramophone is stored in a wooden box that has a hinged lid and two metal swing hook and eye locks at the front.

The instruction booklet is printed in black on white paper, stapled at the spine, 8 pages in English text. Title: 'BERLINER/Gramophone/Directions/For Assembling and Operating the seven-inch/Hand Gramophone'.

With the booklet is a small advertising leaflet printed on white paper, this has a sketch of a gramophone and product information: 'The Berliner/Gramophone'.

A handwritten label on white paper that is mounted on grey cardboard for the Berliner Gramophone, presumably made by the donor, Ralph Meyer.

There are four seven inch record discs made of black shellac in paper record covers, they are all recorded on one side only and have patent information impressed on them. 'The Friar of Orders Gray/By/G W Broderick' has a white paper record cover. 'Saxophone & Clarinet Duett/Polka Variata/Jean B H Moeremans/[Jacqbain Pouche}' has a green record cover. 'Canadian Medley March/By The Members Of/Sousa's Band' has a green record cover. 'Kentucky Babe/Sung By/Haydn Quartette' also has a green cover.

Marks

Makers plate on gramophone: BERLINER/GRAMOPHONE/CO/PHILADELPHIA, PA.Impressed on record discs other than title and performer: E. BERLINER'S/GRAMOPHONE/Patened Nov, 8. 1887/May 15, 1888 - May 6. 1890/Feb'y. 19. 1895 - Oct 29. 1895/OTHER PATENTS APPLIED FOR.

Dimensions

Height

385 mm

Width

370 mm

Production

Notes

Berliner Gramophone Co were the first to produce disc records commercially and this was the only machine available to play them. At this period Edison was experimenting with wax cylinders.

This machine is considered one of the foremost examples of the earliest talking machines produced. Patented in 1887, demonstrated in 1888, it was originally made in Germany as a toy in 1889. It was first manufactured commercially in 1893, in Washington and then in Philadelphia.

Units made before 1893 were marked Washington not Philadelphia.

History

Notes

Ralph Meyer purchased the gramophone in 1986, he had displayed the assembled gramophone in a glass case in his home till he donated it to the museum.

The early history of this machine is not known. It entered the phonograph collection of Warren Trexler in about 1958. It remained there until the early 80s when Mr Trexler died. The Berliner was auctioned in March 1984 and was purchased by Mark S Kaplan, a dealer who operated a company in New York called Musique. Kaplan sold the machine to Ralph Meyer in December 1986.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mr Ralph Meyer & Mrs Ellen Meyer, 1994

Acquisition Date

14 February 1994

Cite this Object

Harvard

Berliner Gramophone 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 January 2021, <https://ma.as/141566>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/141566 |title=Berliner Gramophone |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 January 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}