Analogue records, grooved discs made of shellac and later of vinyl, were a major medium for sound recording in the twentieth century. This machine was one of many sold to play those records in homes and other venues. Made by The Gramophone Company in England, it is branded His Master's Voice (HMV), designed to be portable and powered by a hand-wound clockwork motor.
HMV was a well respected brand for both record players and records. Its trademark, a framed painting of Nipper the fox terrier listening to his dead owner's voice on an early gramophone, was very widely recognised. The original painting on which the trademark was based featured Nipper listening to a phonograph playing a recording cylinder, a more credible scenario as phonographs were used to take dictation, whereas most records were mass-produced. The disc triumphed commercially over the cylinder, an early example of competition between sound storage formats, and the artist replaced the phonograph with a gramophone so he could sell the painting for use as a trademark.
Early gramophones were operated by clockwork. Even when electricity became widely available, clockwork machines like this one were used because they were portable and could provide music anywhere without depending on batteries. The user just had to make sure the spring was wound before playing a record, or the music would tail off unpleasantly as the record spun slowly to a stop.
Debbie Rudder, Curator, 2012