An ancient gramophone record

What would we do without the Williams family of Easterton? Many of our lovely exhibits, given in recent years have come from that family whose ancestors held the Manor of Easterton and also Eastcott. A recent gift has been gramophone records which it is believed the family have owned from new. Here is just one example from the collection.

An early Berliner Gramophone record now at Market Lavington Museum

An early Berliner Gramophone record now at Market Lavington Museum

This record is one of Emil Berliner’s Gramophone records. Emil Berliner invented the name gramophone for his disc system which was a rival to the Edison phonograph. His first records were really only toys and came out in the 1880s. By the 1890s Berliner had moved on to larger, 7 inch records like the one shown and in 1898 he set up a British company.

For the first three years of production, records did not have a paper label. The required information was embossed and scratched on the surface of the newly pressed disc. The record, above, tells us it is a ‘talk’ – John Morton on Trousers and that it was recorded in London. It also gives us the date of the recording.

The date of the recording - 28th August 1900 when Queen Victoria was still on the throne

The date of the recording – 28th August 1900 when Queen Victoria was still on the throne

And there we have the date for this one – 28th August 1900.

We are still trying to find out more about these records. They play on a standard ‘old’ 78 rpm gramophone, but they seem to need to revolve at a slightly lower speed. Most wind up gramophones have a controller which allows the speed to be varied.

It has to be said that Mr Morton’s talk on trousers is comedic in nature and very hard to understand. Brass band music comes out quite well.

The records themselves have spent years in a barn and need gentle cleansing.

The museum doesn’t own a gramophone itself and seeks one with appropriate local provenance. Can any local help by offering us one? Lack of space means a portable would be most suitable, but others can be considered.

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