Journals for Victrola Collectors

Victrola and 78 Journal

The best journal is VICTROLA AND 78 JOURNAL (V78J). No other journal devoted to phonographs has, in each issue, so many articles that are as well-researched and carefully documented (judge for yourself if the articles are detailed--I've reprinted a few articles from V78J on my homepage!). Although the journal is not active any more, back issues are still available.

Victrola and 78 Journal Issue 5

Issue #6 is 80 pages and features articles by authors famous in our field: Ron Dethlefson on Edison cylinders, Brian Rust on early jazz 78s, Allan Sutton on the history of labels, Jas Obrecht on early African-American recordings. Virginia Hawthorn discusses the experiences of opera stars in San Francisco during the 1906 quake. Frank Hoffmann contributed a chapter from his biography of Billy Murray.

Issue #7 is 84 pages and has articles on the popular singing group known as the American Quartet (with Billy Murray), early Hawaiian recordings, early "jass" 78s, Sonora machines, Orthophonic machines, guitar on early 78s and cylinders. Jas Obrecht interviews Saunders King, who made blues 78s. Many collectors list their "ten most played" 78s and analyze what is special about these favorite records. Three new books and four new CDs are reviewed.

Issue #8 has articles on Marion Harris, Collins & Harlan, Isham Jones, Harry A. Yerkes (Brian Rust contributed this), early Zon-o-phone discs, Ruffo and Tamagno, restoring No. 2 Sound-Boxes, W.C Handy, and more. This issue is 88 pages -- special inserts (duplicated pages from The Talking Machine World) bring the total number of pages to 100.

Some articles in back issue #9 discuss what V78J's writers have learned from rare back issues of the phonograph trade journal called Talking Machine World. Other articles discuss early recording artists, Brunswick's history, important labels, Billy Murray's final years, blues 78s, Delpheon Talking Machines, more.


What is in Issue 9? 84 pages. Articles include:

• Brunswick Enters the Phonograph Field"
• The Ultona Tone Arm and Reproducer"
• Buying Blues Records in the South"
• Blind Blake & His Piano-Sounding Guitar"
• Billy Murray: The Final Years"
• Early Wax Cylinders at the Edison National Historic Site"
• The Delphion Talking Machine"
• America's Little Record Fad"
• Victor's Red Seal Records"
• A Biography of Will Oakland, Countertenor"
• Book review of Eric Reiss's The Compleat Talking Machine
• Reviews of new cds that reissue old 78s and cylinders.

If you are a phonograph collector and/or a collector of vintage records (old 78s, Blue Amberols, wax Amberols, Lambert cylinders, Bacigalupi cylinders, US Everlasting, cylinders made by other companies), you will be delighted by the wonderful information!

Spring Issue Issue 10

The opening article of Issue #10 pleased phonograph collectors everywhere since it gives a list of 263 phonograph manufacturers, with many models illustrated so you can SEE how the odd machines looked. It opens with R. J. Wakesman's listing of hundreds of offbrand machines or companies! Also in the issue are articles on restoring a Victrola cabinet, blues 78s, early Victor discs, an early cylinder company, the Black Swan label, Cameo 78s. Three new books are reviewed, and several new CDs are reviewed. Some V78J readers discuss their "Ten Most Played" 78s.

The cover of issue 11 is a great illustration of a man in a record shop pointing to a sign, "Brunswick Electrical Records." This drawing is from late 1925, when electrically-cut records were introduced to the market. On the back cover is a Sonora "Intermezzo" advertisement (handsome phonograph!).

Articles in #11 include:
"Columbia's First Victrola: How Columbia Tried to Compete With Victor's Victrola Models" (Columbia's first attempt to put out a Victrola-like machine--written by Robert Baumbach, author of the famous Victrola guide titled Look for the Dog), "Record Labels: Their Origins and Production Methods" (Nolan Porterfield writes about how those wonderful labels--mini-works of art--were put on records during the pressing process), "Brunswick Records: The Early Years," "Phonograph Monthly Review--The Trade Journal Rediscovered," "The Ada Jones Cylinder Listing" (all Ada Jones cylinders are categorized--Thomas A Edison wax and Blue Amberol cylinders, Indestructible, Everlasting, etc!), "Early Electric Recordings" (how the industry changed from acoustic to electric recording in the mid-1920s), "How Late Did Columbia Use Brown Wax for Cylinders?", "The Six Brown Brothers," "Black Swan Records--New Book Reviewed." Pathe records are discussed, blues 78s discussed--also Thomas A. Edison items, Emile Berliner (Berliner seven-inch discs), Zon-o-phone discs (Fred Hager, conductor of Zonophone Orchestra circa 1901), Billy Murray, Collins and Harlan, Cal Stewart (Uncle Josh), Ethel Waters, hillbilly music on 78s, Jimmie Rodgers, "the New Orthophonic Victrola No. 8-35" (advertisement of May 1928), record needle cutter advertisement (nice illustration of how to cut fibre needles--Badger Talking Machine Company), the Madison portable phonograph (those portable phonographs made by offbeat companies like Madison were "hot" items in the mid-1920s!), Vallorbes needles, and more.

The 12th issue includes a long and well-illustrated article on Victor's plant on the West Coast, in Oakland, California (this information has never been published before!), more on how Brunswick evolved as a manufacturer of machines and records, reviews of several new books. It is 84 pages, plus another 15 double-sided special inserts.

Issue #13 has 84 pages in the journal itself plus another 20 pages in special inserts. In this you'll find "Brunswick's Panatrope Era" (the only history of the Brunswick company as a maker of phonographs and 78s is in Victrola and 78 Journal--I'm proud of this splendid series of articles!), lists of "Ten Favorite 78s" compiled by V78J subscribers, an article telling the history of the Puritan label, the only article ever written about Victor's spring-balanced lid supports, reviews of new books...that's not even half of it!

Other Hobbyist Publications

Now I'll say something about some hobbyist publications. These are not as thick as V78J but they are fun to read. If any of these journals have ceased publication, please let me know and I'll revise my comments to indicate that defunct status.

New Amberola Graphic

A publication with auction lists and advertising is "New Amberola Graphic." The newest issue is 14 pages of articles, with advertisements and auctions in a separate section.

"In the Groove"

In the Groove is put out by a Michigan group of collectors. My friend Tom Hawthorn has a fun column in which he answers 2 or 3 questions sent by readers, such as what brand of cylinders will last longest (answer: probably the brand called Indestructible) and whether 78s should be stored vertically or horizontally (answer: depends on certain conditions). For years, John Whitacre provided a great service in putting out fun issues, but he passed away on August 24, 1996. The journal is now in the capable hands of Mr. Phil Stewart.

ARSC Journal

Again, the journals that come from Vermont and Michigan are good hobbyist publications--they are not academic journals. An academic publication is ARSC Journal, which features articles on topics related to recorded sound from the beginning to modern times, which means articles and book reviews cover topics as wide-ranging as brown wax cylinders, pianist Myra Hess, the Glinka State Central Museum of Musical Culture, and rock and roll. This journal seems to cater to professional archivists. Some of the book reviews are thoughtful, and the "Current Bibliography" in each issue is a source for finding out what is being published in many journals in the field.

You may have not seen ARSC journals before, so I'll get specific about what is in recent issues, and then you can judge if the journal is right for you. Volume 29 No. 2 has articles about the Budapest String Quartet (Part III of a series), old recordings of chant, and guidelines for discographies published in ARSC Journal. These are followed by announcements concerning others' research, book reviews, and record reviews. Some reviews are by writers who know their subjects intimately whereas some other reviews are not well-done. On page 222 of a recent issue, one reviewer speaks of "an obscure vaudevillian, Billy Murray." But Murray was the record industry's most popular singer before 1925 and is not "obscure"! Moreover, Murray never earned fame as a vaudevillian. This reviewer should have little credibility in any reader's eyes. So it is a mixed bag.

Volume 29, No.1, has detailed articles on Charles Lummis and his cylinder collection of Mexican-American and Indian music, Bach transcriptions for solo piano, and the Budapest String Quartet recordings. Volume 28, No. 2, from December 1997, includes articles on Louis Vanier, the Budapest String Quartet, and Lord Rutherford's lecture at Gottingen. Following these articles are announcements of projects, letters from readers, a guide for compiling a discography, a discussion of copyright law, reviews, and a bibliography. Membership is $35 per year. You receive two ARSC journals (issues are 100 pages or so) and one or two newsletters of ARSC announcements. You may attend the ARSC conference.

Antique Phonograph Monthly

I'll say a few words about a publication that was once widely read but is defunct. Antique Phonograph Monthly (typical issues are around 16 pages) first appeared in 1973 and for years "APM" provided information on rare machines, odd discs, and technical developments. I learned from "APM" that inventor Louis Glass of San Francisco was first to patent a coin-operated device attached to a phonograph, thus converting a phonograph into the first jukebox. The patent was granted on May 27, 1890. "APM" was especially good on pre-1905 technology.

Antique Phonograph News

Issued by the Canadian Antique Phonograph Society, "Antique Phonograph News" covers Canada's contributions to the field of recorded sound. A recent issue has an article titled "The First 100 Years of Recorded Sound in Canada." Another recent issue has an article titled "Canada's Audio-Visual Legacy Is Fading Away." To subscribe, take the link from my index page to the CAPS web site.

Internet users are increasing, and high technology definitely adds to the hobby. But the Net is no substitute for an informative journal. Some collectors enjoy logging on each day but also enjoy getting printed journals in the mail. There is a special pleasure in sitting down and reading a magazine cover to cover, even in flipping from page to page and then saving issues for handy reference. The electronic medium cannot duplicate all the good experiences known to collectors.