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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 HOME PHONOGRAPH
Jun 03, 6:00 PM EDT
EDISON HOME PHONOGRAPH
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Antique Decca Portable Crank Phonograph
May 30, 10:00 AM CDT
Antique Decca Portable Crank Phonograph
by Cedarburg Auction & Appraisals LLC
Est: $50- $60
$251 Bid
Early 1900s Thomas Edison Standard Phonograph
Jun 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Early 1900s Thomas Edison Standard Phonograph
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $200- $400
$501 Bid
Edison Gem Phonograph,
Jun 05, 10:00 AM AEST
Edison Gem Phonograph,
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD80- AUD120
AUD601 Bid
Columbian Phonograph Music Cylinder,
Jun 06, 10:00 AM AEST
Columbian Phonograph Music Cylinder,
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD20- AUD40
AUD101 Bid
An Edison Standard phonograph, H 70 cm
May 30, 10:00 AM CEST
An Edison Standard phonograph, H 70 cm
by Carlo Bonte Auctions
Est: €300- €500
€2001 Bid
PHONOGRAPH / GRAPHOPHONE OAK STAND & CYLINDERS
Jun 15, 10:00 AM EDT
PHONOGRAPH / GRAPHOPHONE OAK STAND & CYLINDERS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
FLOOR MODEL COLUMBIA GRAFONOLA
Jun 12, 9:00 AM EDT
FLOOR MODEL COLUMBIA GRAFONOLA
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $200- $600
$1000 Bids
An oak cased Philco phonograph on stand
Jun 03, 12:00 PM PDT
An oak cased Philco phonograph on stand
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $20- $100
$100 Bids
Phoneola Suitcase Portable Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Phoneola Suitcase Portable Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $50- $60
$200 Bids
Victor Victrola No. 4 Table Top Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Victor Victrola No. 4 Table Top Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $40- $60
$200 Bids
Columbia Eclipse Table Top Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Columbia Eclipse Table Top Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $40- $60
$200 Bids
2 pc. Large Cylinder Phonograph Horns
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
2 pc. Large Cylinder Phonograph Horns
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $60- $100
$200 Bids
Child Upright Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Child Upright Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $50- $100
$250 Bids
Silvertone Suitcase Portable Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Silvertone Suitcase Portable Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $60- $70
$300 Bids
Silvertone Tabletop Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Silvertone Tabletop Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $60- $70
$300 Bids
Columbia Grafanola Model D Table Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Columbia Grafanola Model D Table Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $60- $70
$300 Bids
Edison Standard ICS Model Cylinder Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Edison Standard ICS Model Cylinder Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $80- $130
$400 Bids
Edison Model A-100 Diamond Disk Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Edison Model A-100 Diamond Disk Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $80- $100
$400 Bids
Victor Victrola 1-1 Tabletop Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Victor Victrola 1-1 Tabletop Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Victorola Victrola IX Tabletop Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Victorola Victrola IX Tabletop Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Victor Victrola Model VIII Table Top Disc Phono
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Victor Victrola Model VIII Table Top Disc Phono
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $100- $125
$500 Bids
Victor Victrola No. 9 Table top
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Victor Victrola No. 9 Table top
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $100- $140
$500 Bids
Pathe Model XII Upright Disc Phonograph
Jun 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Pathe Model XII Upright Disc Phonograph
by Donley Auction Services
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Phonographs


Donley Auction Services

Donley Auction Services

Morphy Auctions

Morphy Auctions

Aalders Auctions

Aalders Auctions

Milestone Auctions

Milestone Auctions