Columbia Corporate History: Columbia Demonstration Records

Columbia Master Book, Volume I, Tim Brooks, ed.

Columbia’s promotion of Double-Discs continued unabated. For the 1910 Christmas season the company released a special 10¢ promotional record which caused an unexpected sensation. On one side basso Frank C. Stanley delivered a strident sales pitch for Double-Disc records (“Double Disc, double value, double wear, double everything except price. Don't put your money into any other!”), followed by examples of various instruments playing. On the other side the Columbia Male Quartette rendered the old chestnut, “Kentucky Babe.” Circumstantial evidence suggests that hundreds of thousands of copies of this record were distributed, the equivalent of a modern-day multi-million seller. Its success prompted Columbia to issue another demonstration record in 1913, this one selling for 25¢. Although the speaker on this has not been identified, historian Jim Walsh believed that it might be none other than Edward D. Easton himself! (No documented recording of Easton’s voice exists, so this is impossible to verify.) On the reverse side was “Good Night, Little Girl, Good Night” by tenor Henry Burr. The success of the 1913 demonstration record exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations; later reports claimed that it had sold three to five million copies, which, if true, would surely make it the biggest seller during the first half century of the phonograph.46

In January 1913 the Columbia Phonograph Company, Gen'l, was renamed the Columbia Graphophone Company, finally recognizing its principal product, the Graphophone. Although Edward Easton remained titular President, there were a number of changes in the executive ranks. Paul H. Cromelin, Vice President and a moving force behind many triumphs of the early 1900s had resigned to join British Edison in 1911, and George W. Lyle, General Manager of Columbia since 1904, left that key position to become 1st Vice President. The company began to actively pursue several new lines of business. An Educational Department was opened with the goal of selling Graphophones and records to schools around the country. Two new numerical series, the S3000’s (10”) and S7500s (12”) were begun for this purpose ca. 1912.47 [p. 15] 

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The Columbia Master Book Discography, 4 Volumes, Complied by Brian Rust and Tim Brooks. Reprinted by permission.