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K78 Gramophone, 'His Master's Voice' (HMV) No.5B, portable acoustic gramophone, clockwork driven, made by The Gramophone Company Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex, England, c. 1928.. Click to enlarge.

Clockwork record player

Made c 1928
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


Object No.


Object Statement

Gramophone, 'His Master's Voice' (HMV) No.5B, portable acoustic gramophone, clockwork driven, made by The Gramophone Company Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex, England, c. 1928.

Physical Description

The record player is housed in a wooden case with imitation leather covering and matching hinged lid, a leather handle, a metal catch and hinge, and metal external corner protectors. On the front right hand edge of the case, a small pivoted Bakelite container swings out to reveal spare styluses. On the inside of the lid is a sticker bearing the HMV trademark: a framed image of Nipper the fox terrier listening to the sound of a record.

A metal clip and recess at the bottom of the open lid house the winding handle, which is made of metal with a black-painted wooden handle. The box has a large recess at the back to hold the metal tone arm and attached sound box when not in use, and to act as a loudspeaker when in use, amplifying the sound produced by the sound box. In front of the recess is a wooden platform that holds the base of the tone arm, a felt-covered turntable to hold the record being played, a speed setting lever and manual and automatic braking levers.

The winding handle fits into a hole on the right-hand side of the case just below the turntable. It was used to wind a clockwork spring motor that is hidden under the turntable. Two levers attached to the base of the tone arm turned when the arm was used to move the sound box to the edge of the record, activating a mechanism that started the spring motor. The type 5B sound box has a small tube attached to hold a stylus (alternatively called a needle), the part that contacted the record so the sound box could replicate the sound encoded on it.

All interior metal parts are bright, probably being plated with chrome or nickel.


Above the image on the HMV sticker: "His Master's Voice". Below the image: The Gramophone Company Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex / MADE IN ENGLAND. On the soundbox: "HIS MASTER'S VOICE" / No 5B / THE GRAMOPHONE CO LTD, HAYES, MIDDLESEX, ENGLAND.



290 mm


420 mm


170 mm



c 1928


The gramophone was made in Hayes, Middlesex, England, around 1928.



The gramophone was used in Australia, probably by the donor, Mr R Kemp.


Credit Line

Gift of R Kemp, 1976

Acquisition Date

10 August 1976

Cite this Object


Clockwork record player 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Clockwork record player |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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