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Phonographs

The phonograph was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1877. Edison, who lost most of his hearing as a child, had an ongoing interest in sound transmission and recording for his entire life. He invented a system in which sound vibrations could be captured and transferred to an embossing point. The vibrations were then impressed on to a piece of tin foil wrapped around a cylinder, which could be used to play back the sound. Edison was awarded a patent for his invention in 1878.

After several improvements and shakeups in the industry, the phonograph became a mass- marketable entertainment device available to the public. Early phonographs played cylinders, which had good quality sound but a limited playback length. When the disc record was invented, Edison's competitors adapted their phonographs to play this type of recording. Edison opposed records at first due to their poorer sound quality, but caved in to public demand in 1913 and also adapted his phonograph to play records.

Early phonographs operated by a crank and had large horns for speakers. In the '30s, vinyl records were produced, and after World War II, the long-playing record was introduced, helping to grow the popularity of the phonograph. The all-transistor portable phonograph known as the record player remained popular into the '90s, and records are still produced by some popular artists today.


Quick Facts

  • The technology that Edison used to invent the phonograph also made sound in movies possible
  • The Victor Talking Machine company produced phonographs with the brand name Victrola. These phonographs had an inner horn. They were large and encased in finished wood so that the Victrola was like a piece of furniture
  • The highest price ever paid for an antique phonograph was $40,000 for an Edison Spectacle machine, one of the rarest phonographs

Recommended Items at Auction

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Edison Standard Phonograph w Horn
Dec 02, 5:00 PM EST
Edison Standard Phonograph w Horn
by Plain City Auction
Est: $5- $100
$16014 Bids
Silvertone Phonograph/crank AS IS
Nov 29, 9:00 AM EST
Silvertone Phonograph/crank AS IS
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$21 Bid
Radio/phonograph
Nov 29, 9:00 AM EST
Radio/phonograph
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$21 Bid
Vintage mahogany burl front radio phonograph
Nov 27, 12:00 PM EST
Vintage mahogany burl front radio phonograph
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$250 Bids
Der erste Plattenspieler der Welt (Ehrlichs-Patent)
Dec 01, 11:00 AM CET
Der erste Plattenspieler der Welt (Ehrlichs-Patent)
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
Der erste Plattenspieler der Welt, Ariston (Ehrlichs-Patent)
Dec 01, 11:00 AM CET
Der erste Plattenspieler der Welt, Ariston (Ehrlichs-Patent)
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
Der erste Plattenspieler der Welt (Ehrlichs-Patent)
Dec 01, 11:00 AM CET
Der erste Plattenspieler der Welt (Ehrlichs-Patent)
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
Antique Edison Home Phonograph
Dec 03, 9:00 AM CST
Antique Edison Home Phonograph
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $400- $800
$2000 Bids
A Phonograph Horn
Dec 07, 9:00 AM PST
A Phonograph Horn
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Vintage Magnavox stereo and phonograph
Nov 30, 11:30 PM EST
Vintage Magnavox stereo and phonograph
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $300- $350
$2000 Bids
Edison C250 Diamond Disc Phonograph with Records
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CST
Edison C250 Diamond Disc Phonograph with Records
by Circle Auction
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Phonograph Horn
Dec 07, 9:00 AM PST
Phonograph Horn
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Antique RCA victor phonograph with gold trim
Dec 12, 8:00 PM EST
Antique RCA victor phonograph with gold trim
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $500- $600
$4000 Bids
Antique RCA victor phonograph
Dec 12, 8:00 PM EST
Antique RCA victor phonograph
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $400- $500
$3500 Bids
Thomas Edison diamond disk phonograph
Dec 12, 8:00 PM EST
Thomas Edison diamond disk phonograph
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $400- $500
$3000 Bids
Edison Standard Phonograph And 7 Cylinders, Early 20th C., H 12'' W 9'' L 13''
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Edison Standard Phonograph And 7 Cylinders, Early 20th C., H 12'' W 9'' L 13''
by DuMouchelles
Est: $400- $600
$3000 Bids
Phonographe Le Colibri
Dec 05, 12:00 PM CET
Phonographe Le Colibri
by Geneve Encheres
Est: CHF100- CHF150
CHF800 Bids
Stereophonic Roll Top Phonograph Stereo Console
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Stereophonic Roll Top Phonograph Stereo Console
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
Columbia Grafonola Phonograph, Floor model, Made in USA, wind-up model, Wwood case - 43" h x 19 1/2" x 21 1/2"
Dec 06, 5:00 PM EST
Columbia Grafonola Phonograph, Floor model, Made in USA, wind-up model, Wwood case - 43" h x 19 1/2" x 21 1/2"
by Bill Hood & Sons Arts & Antiques Auctions
Est: $100- $300
$500 Bids
C.1920s Victor Model Vv-240 Victrola Phonograph
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
C.1920s Victor Model Vv-240 Victrola Phonograph
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
MARX PROTOTYPE MINAMARX PHONOGRAPH w/ BOX
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
MARX PROTOTYPE MINAMARX PHONOGRAPH w/ BOX
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Phonographs


Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus

Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus

DuMouchelles

DuMouchelles

Wehrly's Auction Service

Wehrly's Auction Service