Ethan Hatcher from Saturday Night On The Circle went on quite the adventure and he tells us all about it!
Recently I traveled all the way to the suburbs of Chicago to acquire this somewhat scarce phonograph, over 100yrs old. It was spotted by another friend in the hobby of collecting.
This very cool antique phonograph is called the “Edison B250”, dubbed after its original price of $250… which is about $6,200 today when adjusting for inflation. Its large price tag is part of the reason the Edison Diamond Disc phonographs did not sell as well as models from the Victor Talking Machine Co. (The design was also considered less attractive.) The B250 was only made between 1912-1915, offered in mahogany and oak. Less than 15,000 were manufactured.
The title of the song:
“ The John T. Scopes Trial (The Old Religion’s Better After All) – Vernon Dalhart and Company. Released: 1925”
Edison Diamond Disc phonographs were the Betamax players of their era, the Edison machine and the Diamond Discs were designed to be an entire system, incompatible with other discs or disc machines. Prices of the discs ranged from $1.25 to $4.25. Almost 1/4” thick, the Diamond Discs were made of an early composite material similar to Bakelite that made them comparably much more durable than the fragile shellac discs which had become the standard, but also substantially heavier.
Edison was forced to contend with the Victor patents which were rigorously enforced by an eager team of lawyers hungry to litigate. Primarily he had to work around the needle-in-groove method of advancing the record, and the tapered tone-arm to enhance sound. Some of these patent workarounds caused the manufacturing price for Edison machines to go up while leaving less room for profit. For these and a host of other reasons, by 1929 Edison’s presence in the market had diminished to near non-existence and by October of that year production of new machines and discs ended for good.