Resources for Further Study

Berliner Gramophone Records: American Issues, 1892-1900, compiled by Paul Charosh.

The foregoing pages represent an inventory of Emile Berliner’s gramophone records released in this country and do not explore other possibly related concerns of the reader. The companies established to manufacture and vend discs and gramophones have a history not discussed here. Berliner’s activities are embedded in a more comprehensive history of competing companies founded and managed by other entrepreneurs. Readers who want to know about these matters, both in general and in this specifics, may turn to a variety of sources.

J. B. McClure’s Edison and his Inventions (Chicago: Rhodes & McClure, 1897) was published only two years after the phonograph’s invention and a decade before its commercial development. Thus, it presents an early assessment of its potential. An excellent overview of the history of the talking machine, easily accessible to the popular audience, is Roland Gelatt’s The Fabulous Phonograph (Philadelphia: J. Lippincott, 1954). Walter Welch and Leah Burt’s From Tinfoil to Stereo (Gainvesville: University Press of Florida, 1994) provides chronological detail and technical information not reported by Gelatt, especially about cylinders. (An earlier version of the book by Oliver Read and Walter Welch, with the same title, is also useful.) Allen Koenigsberg offers us The Patent History of the Phonograph, 1877-1912 (New York: APM Press, 1990). Edison phonographs and rival graphophone interests were intertwined for a decade beginning in the mid-1880s and are best studied together. A reprint of the Proceedings of the 1890 Convention of Local Phonograph Companies (Nashville: Country Music Foundation, 1974), with an introduction by Raymond R. Wile, is rich in detail about the concerns of those years.

Raymond R. Wile’s article, “Etching the Human Voice” ARSC Journal 21, no. 1 (Spring 1990) focuses on Berliner’s invention of the grampohone and his attempts to secure patents and promote the device during the years 1887-1890. A subsequent article discusses “The Launching of the Gramophone in America, 1890-1896” ARSC Journal 24, no. 2 (Fall 1993). The competing graphophone is discussed by Tim Brooks in “Columbia Records in the 1890’s: Founding the Record Industry” ARSC Journal X, no. 1 (1978). An industry-produced periodical, The Phonogram, published from 1891-1894, no. 1 (1978). A similar publication, The Phonoscope, covers the years 1896-1900.

Frederick William Wile (not related to Raymond) wrote a biography, Emile Berliner: Maker of the Microphone (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrilll, 1926) and places the gramophone in the broader context of the inventor’s other accomplishments. Fred Gaisberg, among Berliner’s most important employees, shares numerous reminiscences in The Music Goes Round (New York: Macmillian, 1943). Those wanting a detailed account of his activities on behalf of Berliner in Great Britain and Europe should read Jerold Northrop Moore, A Matter of Records (New York: Taplinger, 1977). Brian Rust lists the earliest English discs in “British Berlinger, G&T and Zonophone 7” Records” in The Talking Machine Review nos. 63-64 (autumn 1981).

The Victor Talking Machine Company was the Berliner Gramophone’s successor in this country, after 1900. Michael Sherman relates “The Berliner Story,” including photographs of discs, as an introduction to his Collector’s Guide to Victor Records (Dallas, Texas: Monarch Record Enterprise, 1992). A complete discography of Victor’s output is offered by Ted Fagan and William R. Moran in The Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982 and 1986). Two volumes have been published thus far, covering the years 1900-1907. Those interested in Edison’s output will find Allen Koenigsberg’s Edison Cylinder Records, 1889-1912 (second edition) (New York: APM Press, 1987) an indispensible research tool. No comprehensive discography of Columbia’s cylinders exists at this time, but Tim Brooks provides much useful information about its talent roster in “A Directory to Columbia Recording Artists in 1890’s” ARSC Journal XI, nos. 2-3 (1979).

At this writing, several periodicals are devoted to the various aspects of talking-machine history. Readers are encouraged to inspect the following:

Antique Phonograph Monthly
502 East 17th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11226

Antique Phonograph News
Canadian Antique Phonograph Society (CAPS)
122 Major Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2L2

ARSC Journal
P.O. Box 10162
Silver Spring, Maryland 20914

New Amberola Graphic
37 Caledonia Street
St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819

Victrola and 78 Journal
1901 Emory Street
San Jose, California 95126

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Berliner Gramophone Company Table of Contents

Berliner Gramophone Records in America: A Discography. Compiled by Paul Charosh.  Reprinted by permission.