Part 2. Antique Edison Phonograph Model Identification


(Outside horn machines)

Every author likes to see the words comprehensive and authoritative used in describing his efforts. I, on the other hand, would like to plead that this effort is neither comprehensive nor authoritative. I am going to show you mugshots of the usual suspects, what you're most likely to find, and help you identify them. You may well run into some rare model that's not depicted; if so, just remember that this is the only guide on the internet to antique Edison phonographs that flouts the claim that it is not comprehensive and authoritative.

Edison came up with a name for each model, and then labelled significant changes sequentially, starting with the letter A. So the first of the Fireside models would be a Model A Fireside, one of the last of the Standards would be a Model E Standard, and so on. I'm not going to show you all the changes; the goal here is to show you enough to identify your machine as a Standard, and not as something else.

Before we continue, a word again about reproducers. That's the soundbox, the assembly that contains the stylus and diaphram and amplifies the noise from the record. Don't confuse the model of the reproducer with the model of the machine. The reproducer may be stamped something like Model C or Model H or Model K. A Model C is a two-minute reproducer, a Model H is a four-minute reproducer, and a Model K is a two and four minute reproducer; this is all the stamping means.

Here's a short list , along with an estimate of rarity. I'm not going to give you prices; if you want to know why, read this tutorial. However, you should be aware that weird variations in common machines can bump up the values.

Common:

Edison Standard Phonograph
Edison Home Phonograph
Edison Gem Phonograph

Slightly scarcer, but still common

Edison Fireside Phonograph
Edison Triumph Phonograph

Rarer

Edison Concert Phonograph
Edison Opera Phonograph

Rarer still

Edison Class M and Edison Electrics
Edison Idealia

On to the machines:


EDISON STANDARD PHONOGRAPH


2 clip suitcase version

Model B Standard


Single spring motor.
The first version had a boxy case with suitcase type clips.
The new style case of 1901 was in a green oak case with banner decal.
Later versions came in a golden oak case.

EDISON HOME PHONOGRAPH


Version ca 1904-1909


Single spring motor.
First version came in a case with red banner on the lid and suitcase type clips.
New style case of 1901 had a green oak case with banner decal.
Later versions were in a slightly smaller, golden oak case.

EDISON TRIUMPH PHONOGRAPH


Raised panel, mahogany. Most were oak.

Top of Model B Triumph


Triple spring motor.
Model A Triumph sat in a boxy case with banner decal.
Later versions sit in a raised panel case.
A few more notes and images on the Edison Triumph

EDISON GEM PHONOGRAPH


Maroon Gem


First version had no lid and a metal drip pan as a base.
Subsequent versions had a lid and wooden base.
Model D known as Maroon Gem, had maroon paint and special baby morning glory maroon horn.

EDISON FIRESIDE PHONOGRAPH


Model B Fireside (decal removed)


Originally intended as a replacement machine for the Standard, although sold concurrent with the Standard. Shares the Standard motor.
Model A was combination machine.
Model B was straight four minute.
Special horns required, usually baby maroon morning glory horn for the Model A Fireside, and cygnet horn for the Model B Fireside.


EDISON CONCERT PHONOGRAPH


Early Concert


Has mandrel for 5" diameter records. Early version had all-enveloping lid and built in drawer. Most later versions had banner decal.

EDISON OPERA PHONOGRAPH


Mahogany Opera


Had stationary reproducer and moving mandrel. Special wooden horn required. Comes in oak and mahogany.

EDISON CLASS M


Class M


Powered by wet cells.

EDISON IDEALIA PHONOGRAPH


Edison Idealia

Mahogany case with oxidized copper upperworks.

Note: The most comprehensive identification guide to antique Edison Phonographs I have seen is The Edison Cylinder Phonograph Companion by George L. Frow (Stationary X-Press, 1994). Another Edison-centric work is the monumental From Tin Foil to Stereo, by Read and Welch. It was originally published in 1957, and reprinted by Bobbs-Merrill in 1977. Buy the original book or borrow it from your library; don't waste your money on the revised edition that was published a couple of years ago.

NEXT: EDISON PHONOGRAPH REPAIR
BACK: EDISON PHONOGRAPH BEGINNER'S GUIDE

Copyright 2006 Lynn Bilton