The Edison Standard Phonograph

     The Standard was a spring driven external horn phonograph model that was introduced by Edison's National Phonograph Company in April, 1899.  It sold for $20, which seems like an incredible bargain today, but you have to consider that most people at that time worked for only a few hundred dollars a year.  They cost  $10 less than Edison's Home phonograph, but they were still a  luxury item.

     Early Standards were designed to play brown wax 2-minute cylinder records through listening tubes or a small brass horn.  As the ad at the right shows, these records cost 50 cents each at that time. It was also designed to record 2-minute cylinder records.  No electricity was required, as most homes at that time had none.

     The Standard was phonograph was actually used in one of Edison's trade marks shown at the left.  This trade mark was a lame attempt to compete with Victor's famous trade mark  showing a dog listening to "His Master's Voice" on a disc phonograph.  In Edison's logo, a young boy attempts to chop up an early Standard while "Looking For The Band." This trade mark was quietly dropped.   Interestingly enough, Edison had the chance to use the dog trade mark for his phonographs, but turned the artist down.  The artist painted over the Edison cylinder phonograph in his painting and sold it to the Victor Talking Machine Company!


          Standard models were changed through the years to have more attractive looking wooden cabinets and large morning glory horns.  Other changes enabled the Standard to play the new 4-minute wax Amberol cylinder records that were available starting in 1908.

     The Standard continued in the Edison product line until early 1914, when it was phased out due to the increased popularity of internal horn cylinder phonographs like the Amberola. (11200 bytes)

     A woman proudly displays her Edison Standard Model A phonograph, with a beautiful brass aftermarket horn (not made by Edison), in her lavishly decorated home, circa 1902.  Around that time, owning a phonograph was quite a big deal, and families often posed with them for photographs.

     This machine has an interesting horn crane. The crane appears to have a weight on the bottom to provide support for the horn without attaching to the bottom of the phonograph. Early Edison phonographs were designed to be played with small witch's hat brass horns.  As such, their cabinets did not have slots and brackets for horn crane hardware.

     With his Edison Standard Model C phonograph, this man and his family could enjoy music and vaudeville routines right from the kitchen table. 

     Edison and his jobbers often used advertising like this to help sell his phonographs to parents who could use them to provide entertainment for their children in the days before television and video games. The phonograph pictured appears to be a Standard Model C with an Edison horn.

My Edison Standard Model D Phonograph

     The Edison Standard Model D was was put into production in October, 1908 at the time when Edison's 4-Minute black wax Amberol records were introduced.  The Standard Model D was also known as a "Combination Standard" because it was designed to play 2-Minute Gold Moulded wax cylinders and 4-Minute Amberols. 

     Production on the Combination Standard ended in November, 1911, shortly before 2-minute wax cylinders were phased out.

     The Combination Standard was sold with a Model C reproducer for 2-Minute records and a Model H reproducer for 4-Minute records.  These floating, gravity weighted reproducers were actually developed by Edison's competitor Columbia, and Edison manufactured them under a licensing agreement. (12800 bytes)

     Like all other Standards, my Combination Standard requires absolutely no electricity to operate.  It is purely an acoustical machine, driven by a hand-cranked spring motor.   Sound is created when a small jewel stylus tracks along in the record groove and it vibrates a diaphragm in the reproducer.  The horn then amplifies the sound waves produced by the diaphragm.   Most listeners today are surprised at how loud and clear this seemingly primitive sound reproduction system is! (12000 bytes)

     The Combination Standard has a 2-minute/4-minute speed changing knob that is located on the side of the topside gearbox to enable it to play either of the two record formats.  It was the responsibility of the customer to make sure that the proper reproducer was installed in the phonograph and the speed changing knob was in the correct position before playing a record.  
     You should always use a Model C reproducer to play 2-minute black wax Gold Moulded cylinder records. It is also worth mentioning that you must never use a Model C reproducer to play any 4-Minute record, including wax Amberol and Blue Amberol cylinder records. This is because the sapphire stylus is too wide for the narrow 4-minute record grooves.

     Although the Standard Model D was designed to play 2-minute wax cylinders with a Model C reproducer, it will also play them with the 4-minute Model H reproducer. This is because the stylus on both is made of sapphire and the narrow Model H stylus will fit inside of the wide 2-minute cylinder grooves. However, because the Model H reproducer stylus is much smaller than the Model C, it can hunt side to side in the groove and damage the record over time. (13200 bytes)      It's interesting to note that the Model H reproducer will also play Edison's celluloid Blue Amberol cylinder records which were first introduced in 1912.   The Model H was designed to play molded 4-Minute wax cylinders, so it's floating weight is not really heavy enough to contend with Blue Amberol cylinders that are excessively out-of-round due to swelling or improper reaming of the plaster core. The Model H has a tendency to skip and flutter as the record plays.  Blue Amberol cylinders are best played with a larger and heavier Diamond B reproducer specially fitted in an external horn phonograph or the Diamond B or Diamond C reproducer in an Edison Amberola phonograph.
     My Standard Model D phonograph cabinet was manufactured to accept a horn crane bracket and foot.  The 31-inch, 11 panel morning glory horn on my machine is an aftermarket horn of a slightly different design than the ones Edison sold for later Standard models.  The horn hangs from the horn crane by a chain and it is attached to the reproducer with a short rubber hose. As such, the horn can freely swing as the reproducer tracks along the cylinder record. 

     Although large morning glory horns were becoming popular with customers because of superior sound amplification, Edison was slow to include them with his phonographs and other manufacturers were quick to exploit the market. Some of Edison's distributors (jobbers) actually included these aftermarket horns with phonographs sold to dealers and customers.  Edison finally began including the larger horns with his phonographs in 1907.

     Today, most people prefer external horn phonographs with large morning glory horns because they look charming.  By the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, phonograph owners felt otherwise, particularly after the introduction of the Victrola internal horn disk phonographs by Victor Talking Machine Company.  The main problem with the morning glory horns was that they stuck out into the room where people could bump into them.  This could damage the horn, reproducer, and feed screw on the phonograph.  If you bumped into the horn hard enough, you could tip the whole machine off of the table.  Even if you kept your phonograph in a low traffic area, the horns collected dust and they were difficult to keep clean.  To keep up with Victor, Edison developed a new line of internal horn cylinder phonographs called "Amberolas." (152000 bytes)



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