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Talking Machines: 1914

Talking Machines: 1914

Richmond, California, 1914. "Victor Talking Machine display. Hawley Piano Co., Macdonald Avenue." With Nipper headlining a list of the latest platters. 8x6 inch glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Save the pup

We had to petition politicians to save the huge figure of 'Nipper' atop the old RCA building here in Albany, NY.It worked and he's still listening for his master's voice today.


I saw those too. They look really small so I assumed they are lubricant for the Victrolas. But I'm only assuming.

[Our antique Grafonola, Columbia's competitor to the Victrola, smelled like 3-in-1 oil inside. -tterrace]

Victor machine

We also had one of the table top Victor machines shown at the left, together with a pile of shellac 78s. When I was small, my father had it repaired so that it would run (evidently the spring was broken.) By 1960, when he began to remodel the house, his desire to remove clutter overcame any affection he had for the machine, and he pitched it out of an upstairs window along with most of the other stuff up there. I remember two of the records: "The Little Ford Rambled Right Along," about a Model T, and "Does the Spearmint Lose its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight."


Seems nobody asked. But, I will.

What are those bottles in the shelf, top left of the picture.

Did they also sell alcohol?


Hot record

Victor 35372 appears to be Castle House Rag by Europe's Society orch. (James Reese Europe) which features a hot drum solo by Buddy Gilmore. Buddy Gilmore emigrated to Paris and was photographed by Berenice Abbott, a Shorpy regular.

I just bought one of these!

This is so coincidental. I just bought this Victor Talking machine from a Portland, ME antique store last weekend. And the serial number dates it to 1914!
Maybe its the one in the photo on the far left :)

Harry Lauder's big hit

One of Lauder's biggest hits was the 1911 song Roamin' in the Gloamin'.

It's true that a lot of his comedy is out of date, but listening to his singing is still enjoyable.

Loved our Victor machine

We had the model shown second from the right and a stack of old 78s. Volume was controlled by opening and closing two of the doors.

My favorite 78 (Old King Tut, from 1922):

Learned this tune on guitar and played it for my mom, maiden aunt, and grandmother at the age of 12, resulting in some serious discussion when my dad got home (Pig Meat Papa, 1935):

That fellow, Ledbetter, got me in serious trouble.


I found a few of them here to listen to. There may be more though:

Being in pro audio, I had an interest in acoustic recordings a while ago.

The price of a record

Looking at Dave's enlarged image of the chart, I assume the last column lists prices (.75, 1.25). If that's the case, then paying 75 cents for a record in 1914 was like paying $17.77 today.

[Our Harry Lauder record I mentioned below is priced 75¢ on the label. -tterrace]

RE: Harry Lauder

Being a "Victrola nerd", I have several Harry Lauder "comedy" records, and comedy definitely belongs in quotes there. It is amazing how much cultural shift can occur in a few generations, as nothing on any of these records has made me laugh, and 90% of it just leaves me scratching my head. IMHO, the most important thing about Sir Harry is the shrub named after his signature crooked cane.

[Victor 60002 "Stop Your Tickling Jock" has been in the family archives since tterrace was a pup.]

Not to quibble, but

RCA did not come into existence until 1919, and bought Victor Talking Machine in 1929.

[Good point. - Dave]

Harry Lauder

Had never heard of the guy, but checked him out online. Quite the star of his day, and a million-selling record artist. He also did a lot for the war effort, WW I and WWII.

New Records

April 1914. Click to expand.

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