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EDISON DIAMOND DISC

Thomas Edison released the Diamond Disc in 1913 after three years of development. It is a quarter of an inch thick, vertically cut (recorded hill-and-dale as against lateral), and rotated at 80rpm. The early records had no paper labelss - the details were etched into the record and near impossible to read unless held at the right angle to the light. In 1920, a plain black text on white label was introduced. The strobe-like markings on the perimeter of some labels was not, in fact, a strobe card. The last Edison recording session took place on 19 October 1929, in New York. Rust [R] writes of these final discs:,"They were greeted with accolades in the press, barely justified. The quality of the recording is reasonable but not outstanding, the surfaces likewise. The repertoire offered nothing to excite the discerning music lover".  And indeed:, "The Edison repertoire over the thirty-odd years of its existence was rarely anything special". Of jazz there is little to be found - Charles A. Matson's Creole Serenaders is not one known by jazz buffs, nor Billy Hamilston's Kings of Harmony. But The Origianl memphis Five, and Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra, were recorded. And to Edison must go credit for being the first to record Sergei Rachmaninoff on his arrival in the USA, an excile from his revolutionary-torn country of Russia. The great composer-pianist made ten sides in four sessions in a week, in April 1919. (After that, he recorded for Victor). Perhaps Edison's major contribution in recorded sounds was that of his recordings of famous voices, such as those of poets Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning, Sir Arthur Sullivan narrating, Johannes Brahms , Florence Nightingale, Mark Twain, Queen Victoria and William Ewart Gladstone. (Browning was apparently so overcome with the novelty and strangeness of the recording process that he forgot the words to his own poem.)   

Note that these Edison Diamond Discs required a special reproducer to be played, the main difference with that of a standard 78rpm player being the speed, but more importantly the sound-box, which lay horizontal and hinged so that it followed the hill and dale recorded surface. It is interesting to note that whereas quite a few Edison Diamond Disc cabinets have survived, a genuine soundbox itself is a rareity - they were generally disposed of and replaced with a lateral playback soundbox when the Diamond Disc lost popularity, nevermind the slight difference in rotational speed.  

Labels were either black on white, or etched directly into the wax.  The following ‘type' of disc is my own description; there are no official ‘types' of disc.

EDISON. LABEL TYPE (A)
Label details are etched directly into the ‘wax'. This makes the item details hard to read - need to angle the record into the light. On the left of the spindle hole, shows a photographic portrait of Thomas Edison (either that or its Wallace Berry as Pancho Villa!!), which is seen as a negative when viewed at an angle. Edison's signature is on the right of the spindle hole, above the words, ‘A Product of the Edison Laboratories'. There is a catalog number below the word EDISON below the spindle hole.  There are three dimples equidistant on the perimeter of the label. 

EDISON. LABEL TYPE (B).
Label details are etched directly into the ‘wax'.This makes the item details hard to read - need to angle the record into the light. Shows a photographic portrait of Thomas Edison, but differs from Label Type A in that Edison is better groomed and dressed and is presented within a shield border. On the right of the spindle hole is another shiled with the wiords, ‘This patented record is sold by Thomas A. Edison Inc., Orange, N.J., subject to restrictions printed on container in which it is put out by this Company'. Thomas Edison's signature is now below the word EDISON below the spindle hole. Surpisingly, there is no record (catalog) number on the label, nor matrix (recorded) number although there is a number hand written, etched or stamped, just outside on the edge of the label. On one item, a small ‘A7' was etched on the label on just the one side, under Edison's signature - probably a catalog number; also, number 80803 stamped into the outer rim and indentation filled in white. There are three dimples equidistant on the perimeter of the label.

EDISON RE-CREATION.  LABEL TYPE (C).
Label is paper, black text on white, with part white text and motif on black. At least these could be read easily.
The image of Edison is a drawing, and as for the Type A photo, appears that his head and shoulders are coming out of a cooking pot. This is now on the right of the spindle hole. On the left of the spindle hole is Edison's signature above the words, ‘A Product of the Edison Laboratories'. On the lower perimeter of a circle is ‘Price $1.00 in the U.S.A.' On the outer label rim, at the top, is the text ‘INDEX No.' wiith space for a number. Caralog number iss just below the spindle hole - and is suffixed with an ‘L' or ‘R'. Could this mean ‘left' and ‘right', and if so for what purpose. There is a recording number on the bottom outer rim of the label.   There are no dimples in the label area as for Types A and B. There is a red five-pointed star overprinted on some labels. 

EDISON RECORD. LABEL TYPE (D)
Identical to Type C except that the label is ‘headed' EDISON RECORD, and the price has been removed from the label and replaced with ‘Made in U.S.A'. 

EDISON RECORD. LABEL TYPE (E)
Identical to Type D, except that there is no text where ‘Made in U.S.A.' was located.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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E001 c3  EDISON - TYPE (A)
80603-L (6334).  LITTLE MOTHER OF MINE 
(H.T.Burleigh). 
Thomas Chalmers. Baritone with Orchestra.
80603-R (5978) MY DREAMS (Tosti). Ralph Errolle. 
Tenor with Orchestra.

E002 c3  EDISON - TYPE (B)
2522-B-12-6. A PERFECT DAY (Carrie Jacobs, Bond). 
Mixed voices with Orchestra. Metropolitan Quartet.
2455-B-11-19. SOMEWHERE A VOICE IS CALLING 
(Arthur F. Tate) Soprano and Baritone With Orchestra . 
Elizabeth Spencer and Vernon Archibald.

E003 sc3 EDISON RE-CREATION - TYPE (C) 
51027-L (8521) FIFTH NOCTURNE (J.Leybach).
Piano Solo, Victor Young.
51027-R (8520) VALSE CAPRICE (R.A.Newland). 
Ibid.

E004 sc3 EDISON RECORD - TYPE (D). 
51770-L (11018) WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN 
COMES BOB, BOB, BOBBIN' ALONG (Harry Woods)
Frank Braidwod (The Cowboy Baritone). Irwin Dash 
at the Piano.
51770-R (11017) IT'S TOO LATEE TO BE SORRY NOW 
(Joe Verges, Henri Therrian & Irwin LaClaire.) Ibid.

E007 c3 EDISON RECORD - TYPE (E)
51362-l (9575).  I'LL KEEP ON DREAMING 
(Until My Dreams All Come True) ( Ernest Cutting, 
Harry Archer)  Fox Trot and Song
Fox Trot by the Merry Sparklers. Song by George 
Wilton Smith.
51362-R (9581) YOU'LL NEVER GET TO HEAVEN 
WITH THOSE EYES.  (James V.Monaco) 
Fox Trot and Song. Fox Trot by Atlantic Dance Orchestra. 
Song by Billy Jones.