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The Bell-Tainter Series!!!


Shawn
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Just in time for Christmas and the Holidays, a new Video on Phonographs. 

Take a look at The Bell-Tainter Series.  Super fun to make.  I hope you enjoy it!
 



Feel free to subscribe to my channel. I am always producing more videos on Phonographs!!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all!!!

Shawn 

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Thank you Rene'   I love doing these videos, and I appreciate your comments on the time commitment.  For this type and length of video, It takes about a day to produce 1 3/4 of a minute of video. This one took a little over 5 days to produce which includes the images, image production, voice production, and video production.  It gives me a lot of respect for those individual who attempt a full length movie on their own!!

 

More to come!!!

 

Shawn 

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Fun video, Shawn!  Thanks for posting.

 

I used to do some video production at work, and I'm with you - - in awe of folks who produce feature-length films.  Of course, they have lots of people to help them, unlike your solo efforts.  Congratulations and thanks again!

 

I can offer some shots of a Type U Graphophone.  This originally sold for $120 without shaver ($120 with a shaver) and is powered by a 2-volt DC motor.  (The entire line of 1894 Graphophones can be seen in an original catalog shown on pages 21-29 of Phonographica, by Fabrizio & Paul.)  This particular Type U retains the early 160 tpi thread pitch of the treadle machines.  Reportedly, all Graphophones began to be equipped with 100 tpi feedscrews in 1894, so this one may date from 1893.

 

Ufront.thumb.JPG.50e07b2b5ebce3e0a30c6a276405f736.JPG

 

Umotor.thumb.JPG.81bf7a80e4265f00ebc30825adef9f3a.JPG

 

The large pulleys were necessary for the electric-motor machines in order to slow the rotation of the mandrel/record chucks.  Note the presence of Charles Sumner Tainter's name, which was not displayed on slightly later examples.

 

Upulleyplate.thumb.JPG.a4363ef01a507f00dc798d4fe30e05c0.JPG

 

The control knobs for 2-volt DC motors were nickel-plated brass.  For 110-volt DC motors (Type I and some Type S coin-operated machines), the "SWITCH" knob was made of gutta percha.

Ucontrolknobs.thumb.JPG.e4777af67955b504ed34b1e009f9c5d0.JPG

 

Urear.thumb.JPG.7b6dd50dfeb8f3b79a43444b317fc1c8.JPG

 

As noted, this particular Type U is equipped with a 160 tpi feedscrew, so it was not intended to play conventional entertainment cylinders.  Still, an enterprising person could have recorded lengthy musical performances on the 6-inch Type E cylinders, so I display the machine with a concert horn and hoop stand.  I just like the way it looks that way...!

 

593332806_Uwithhorn.thumb.JPG.4f828c74da6f985718171da63a992bd1.JPG

 

I have more Bell-Tainter material that I will post later on.

 

Thanks again for posting your video, Shawn.

 

George P.

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That Type U is amazing. I'm also struck by the battery (in the literal sense, meaning a collection of cells). That appears to be a set of Edison Q cells, which was supplied with the very rare Edison Ironclad Fan. A very rare find in itself!

 

I sold my electric Type K Bell & Tainter, but I still have a spring motor Type G, a twin of the one in Shawn's video. It's the earlier of two versions, with a drop-down front door and the feedscrew positioned facing forward.

 

typeg.thumb.jpg.06a302cababfb6f3c49491a01dd70a09.jpg

 

My serial number is only a little higher than Shawn's, but it has a very different knob to open the front panel to access the motor. It's clearly original, with no holes or marks of any kind for a latch with diamond-shaped escutcheon as on Shawn's.

 

IMG-0315_edited-1.jpg.4a7d343cb44881b5f20f832935c30de9.jpg

 

Like the spring-motor Bell-Tainter machines that used recycled treadle topworks, this has a cut-down stamped pulley cover screwed into the inside of the lid to identify the model. (The serial number is also stamped into the bedplate.)

 

typegtag.jpg.1ee09b064da4119ad3ce03286ef36f2b.jpg

 

I'm amused by the stamped labeling on the control knobs (though I've seen this feature carry over into the very earliest of Type N Graphophones too).

 

IMG_5262.jpg.68a4dfc76016ff2af4c3f0dbd7249d60.jpgIMG_5263.jpg.af23b08909585aaa9856274e643a9a49.jpg

 

The early Type G Graphophones had the serial number stamped into the bedplate, and on the plate in the lid, but did not use the conventional patent plates that were typical of all later Graphophones. The second version of the G did use such a plate. (This photo comes from an eBay listing from way back in 2001.)

 

col1220g.thumb.jpg.dc93f9dfb2954a57a6cc0c12a9144f3e.jpg

Edited by Tinfoilphono
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Here is a copy of the 1886 ‘Prototype’ Treadle Graphophone.

3126C32D-688C-48B1-9431-4D3EFAC3F1FF.jpeg
 

D78D4757-CA75-4446-A6F8-416B7BAE7F66.jpeg

The original Bell and Tainter prototype was hand made by Volta laboratory in August 1885. The treadle base for the prototype was adapted from a Wheeler and Wilson sewing machine base of the period. The prototype inspired the formation of The American Graphophone Company. This example is one of 3 produced by Mirek Stehlik on a correct period Wheeler and Wilson treadle base and is based on patent 375,579. It was originally build by the Volta company as a dictation device and included a number of improvements on the original prototype including a speed regulator, starting and stopping keys, a brush to clean away wax shavings, a new feed screw and carriage, and a new reproducer. 45536128-075C-4C3A-9787-D25D5962A1F5.jpeg

 

2D25C964-2FD2-4D99-9AD6-3A1C1D1B0CA3.jpeg
The recording reproducer and beak playback reproducer snap into position for use and are stored on a storage hook when not in use (unlike the hinge design of the type C). There are no surviving original examples of this machine which predates the 1887 Type A Treadle Graphophone.

BABB52A9-6F05-4864-9485-C79FCC6E0A44.jpeg

 

5243242A-088E-4E7B-933F-24E66A6D141D.jpeg

Edited by Mlund2020
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1894 Bell Tainter Type ‘G’ Baby Grand. 487D520F-1B18-4F47-805A-508BA5EEBEE9.jpeg

 

773E88B4-5356-4453-B59F-4303C77B9E89.jpeg

 

95DAE42C-7956-4212-BC89-526B128E347F.jpeg

 

AAA6875E-9288-4A5A-9466-04101C2E3F52.jpeg

 

FC4B8C3D-920B-4939-A3B9-E8953A482455.jpeg


My Type ‘G’ SN 30027 was part of a traveling Graphophone show by ‘Standard Graphophone Co’. AAFA02E0-58EB-4EEF-814A-2AA1B0BFA8C7.jpeg

 

583F57B6-7B02-4127-AE04-2F2ED475F683.jpeg

The package came complete with multiple advertising bulletins which advertised ‘no ear tubes - all can hear at the same time by means of a large amplifying horn’. The large horn is shown. EE40C5C7-E208-430F-A0F7-844159780932.jpegThere were many tickets for admission to the show.  90A42BD9-F832-42A0-87D4-068EC20BA9F8.jpegA notebook with a list of cylinders in their repertoire. A89CD41B-3DE0-4247-A5B4-1C53E96B8530.jpegThere is a small case for carrying a dozen cylinders for shows and a large case to house the 72 cylinders in their inventory. 0E02B3C2-30ED-4123-ABAB-A455D7DFAE6A.thumb.jpeg.51b412166adc61b04b153f1c507216f7.jpeg

 

CBA99A74-797F-4CF0-8425-57C8C3701BD8.jpegMost of the brow wax cylinders are mold ridden or broken, but this is an interesting glimpse into an early entrepreneur making a business off their early Bell Tainter Type ‘G’.

Edited by Mlund2020
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Wow - spectacular, Mike!

 

I was unaware that Mirek had made reproductions of the Graphophone described in U.S. Patent No.375,579.  The anniversary of the patent's grant date is in 9 days, and I was prepared to note that on the APS Facebook Group and APS Facebook Page in the "On This Day..." blurbs I do.  Now I will include a link to this post so folks can see what it looked like in the flesh.  Thanks for these great pictures of an historic machine!

 

George P.

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Absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for sharing these. I had only ever seen one treadle machine in person at the Johnson Victrola museum, but your setup is just breathtaking. A view through a time machine. Wow!

 

Andreas

 

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George,  Your U is stunning!!  Thank you for sharing the pictures.  I've only seen one other complete U.  WOW!!!  I would concur with you on the 1893 date. 

Rene' the G is my favorite, and yours is wonderful!

Michael - Wow.  Such wonderful to see your awesome machines is such a wonderful display.  

 

You guy rock!!  Great to share the less seen items!

 

Shawn 

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Thank you Shawn for your great videography.

 

Rene, Mike, George: all I can say is "WOW"! I've seen a few Bell-Tainters in person (including George's "U" which is a true beauty!), a "G"[?] and an "I" at another friend's house in 2019; and at Charley Hummel's place several years ago I was allowed to closely examine his "No.1" Graphophone and 3 or 4 others (K's in both spring and electric, IIRC) on shelves, and I'm always awestruck by them. 

 

T'is definitely one of the coolest threads ever. Thanks ya'll!

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Alright, this should take the prize for "most esoteric" post ever - - and probably put some folks to sleep.  But where else will you see "The Evolution of the Bell-Tainter Pulley Plate?"

 

No, I'm not kidding (unfortunately for you).  Back in 1996 when we began shooting images for our books, I made a point of taking a closeup of every Bell-Tainter pulley plate I saw.  I thought it might make a good article someday.  A very few of these appeared in our first book.  Well, 24 years have passed, and I realized that I have a responsibility to the readers of The Antique Phonograph.  After all, they didn't pay their membership dues in the Antique Phonograph Society just to be bored out of their skulls.  But readers of the APS Forum - if rendered comatose by what follows - will be entitled to a full refund of what it costs to read this here. 

 

The arty black & white effect was chosen for maximum clarity, as I shot these from the original 35mm slides using a digital camera and multiple closeup lenses, which did the resolution no favors.

 

Here's a pulley plate from a Type B treadle Graphophone.  Note the early "Phonograph-Graphophone" lettering at the top, and Jesse Lippincott's name just above the center.  Both of these features date from the early North American Phonograph Company years.  The Type B treadle Graphophone was replaced by the Type C treadle machine in December 1889.

251311967_BTB.thumb.JPG.e0f4a89c29f1d77160c45d821ac76de1.JPG

 

The pulley plate from a Type C treadle Graphophone is identical in virtually all respects.  These were manufactured from December 1889 to July 1, 1890.

832630263_BTC.thumb.JPG.69ee7ed89aade0fe3fcda60abe9f70e2.JPG

 

Spring-driven Bell-Tainter machines employed smaller pulleys without data plates like these (although the pulley plates on such examples are sometimes found attached to the bedplate or nailed inside the lid).   It follows that all the examples below are on electrically-driven machines.

 

The Type E Graphophone (which possibly stood for "Electric") was probably the first Bell-Tainter machine offered in a "Hand Cabinet" and with a 2-volt DC electric motor.  By this time (ca. 1892), the treadle Graphophones had proved a failure, and American Graphophone was engaged in a hand-to-mouth business of selling Graphophones on its own.  Note that the "Phonograph-Graphophone" nomenclature and Jesse Lippincott's name were no longer featured.  Note also the serial number in the 10,000-range.  This certainly did not represent the sales of Graphophones at that point, but a new numbering block.

1422477696_BTE.thumb.JPG.1e6a6a5c1668a5d2ed25550a22d23824.JPG

 

The Type S was a coin-operated version of the Bell-Tainter upper works, housed in a floor-standing cabinet.  Note that Charles Sumner Tainter's name was still prominently displayed, but after 1893 his association with American Graphophone virtually ceased.

916419861_BTS.thumb.JPG.7783d058c4fe01640b82e8cc73f4298a.JPG

 

At the risk of being redundant, here's the image of the Type U presented earlier in this thread.  Note that Tainter's name is still featured.

1951716851_BTUa.thumb.JPG.54343e7af3f05e04c56e06a10dd36160.JPG

 

Now look at the pulley plate from another Type U assembled just over 1000 units later.  Tainter's name had disappeared.  (Keep in mind that the serial numbers were assigned serially and interspersed among all Bell-Tainter models as orders were received.) 

1717985655_BTU.thumb.JPG.57395eb59d0f6e49d4a257199db9c6af.JPG

 

The Type I (which probably stood for "Incandescent") was a 110-volt DC machine, and its pulley plate is virtually identical to that of the Type U in the previous image.

645051808_BTI.thumb.JPG.0e23f6d8a8bb1c4e8ab711d432a85f2f.JPG

 

Our final example is included mostly to be as comprehensive as possible.  The Type K is the most "common" (if such an adjective can be used for any Bell-Tainter machine) of these very early Graphophones.  The K was marketed as late as December 1896 as the "Standard Graphophone" intended for business use, and its promotion by Columbia (as of 1895 the sole sales agent for the product of American Graphophone) undoubtedly helped clear stocks of the old Bell-Tainter treadle tops.  Here is a pulley plate from a trusty Type K (usually spring-driven but in this instance with a 2-volt DC motor).

872041940_BTK.thumb.JPG.db7ec40eb8556255b834308ab27478ee.JPG

 

For those of you who made it through to the end, congratulations; you're certified phono-nerds.  If you're not members of the Antique Phonograph Society, you really should be.  You just proved it.

 

George P.

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George. That is a great summary of the Bell Tainter pully plates. I have always been fascinated by the ornate pully plates and it was great to see how they evolved over time.  I found it fascinating, so I must be a real phono nerd (I’m pretty sure my family already knew that). Thanks for sharing. I recognize that C pully plate. LOL.

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George, 

 

That is so amazing!!  I was noticing on my K pulley, how much of what on your U pulley was "obliterated" before it was put on the K.  Look at  it in close up.  You can see ghosts of the name Sumner, and other relics of past stampings on this ide plate.  I know its very obscure, but it fascinates me!!!!

 

Shawn 

IMAGE-BTKE3A.JPG

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Shawn, it certainly is fascinating to consider the possibility that Tainter's name was deliberately effaced from the inventory of pulley plates.  Why did they go to the effort/expense?  Was there a sudden animosity between American Graphophone and Tainter?  If so, might it have been the failure of American Graphophone's coin-slot concession at the Chicago World's Fair - which was under Tainter's supervision?  It's interesting food for thought.  With the addition of your Type K pulley plate, we can see that Tainter's name was dropped somewhere between 11093 and 11767.  What are the chances the gap can be further narrowed?😉

 

George P.

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My (formerly owned) electric K had traces of stamped out sections, including Tainter's name. I attach the only photo I can find of it. It doesn't show the lower part but you can see there are hints of the earlier stamping above "American." The serial number is obviously just beyond your range.

 

 

pulley.jpg.22f8ac1e39c5200b2c0e0c8025319dbd.jpg

 

 

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Thanks to all for posting high-quality photos of these rare mechanisms.  They are beautiful examples.  It is heartening to see such care in preserving this part of phonograph history.

 

Sadly, I have no such examples, but I do have a display of the rare BT ozocerite cylinder series.

 

You will notice in this copy of an early advertisement, a 6 inch, as well as a 4 inch and 2 inch cylinders are represented.

 

scan02.thumb.jpg.07a45c049e1346bbf34eace962a41bdf.jpgscan01.thumb.jpg.a618722deeecca169e1454296314b899.jpg

 

In the display-case below, L to R:

 

·         an original 6-inch, with recording, content unknown

·         a reproduction 6-inch

·         a reproduction sleeve

·         an original, blank, 4-inch

·         an original, blank, 2-inch

 

20201219_064835.thumb.jpg.8f81e4d117fed4c3f668d90caef143b4.jpg

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Wow - nice display of Bell-Tainter cylinders, Rod!  I have only one 6-inch ozocerite with a recording (content unknown) and one Type E cylinder.

 

Were your 4-inch and 2-inch examples part of that group that surfaced in Florida a few years ago?  That created quite a stir at the time!

 

Thanks for posting these rare cylinders, Rod.

 

George P.

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The 4 and 2 are indeed part of that set that surfaced a few years ago.  The original 6-inch I acquired directly from Ray Phillips many years ago.  Perhaps someday, some economical, non-destructive technology will exist to "play-back"  these ozocerite cylinders.

 

BTW - Since I couldn't remember how to spell "ozocerite", a quick reference to the F&P Compendium revealed the answer. 

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I have a question that isn't meant to be rhetorical, nor is it meant to be controversial.  I've struggled with it over the years, and finally decided to share my confusion with all of you.

 

Should the Type G Graphophone be considered a "Bell-Tainter" machine?

It wasn't patented by either Chichester Bell,  Charles Sumner Tainter, nor John H. White.  In fact, I have been unable to find any patent on the Type G that would indicate who invented it. 

 

Although the smaller A-frame design with a detachable mandrel is certainly reminiscent of the Bell-Tainter machines, it lacks the pulley clutch on/off feature, and cannot accommodate a six-inch cylinder (either ozocerite or a Type E).

 

My impression is that the Type G (along with the Type H) was a less-expensive stopgap effort to offer a machine to play 4-inch long entertainment cylinders.  I'm tempted to believe that it was designed by Thomas Macdonald, but without documentation that's only a guess.

 

I'm interested in others' thoughts.

 

George P.

 

 

 

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I understand your reservations about the nomenclature. I would have to agree that technically the Type G is not a Bell-Tainter machine, but it is clearly a Bell-Tainter derivative. The design of the topworks was obviously inspired by the earlier Bell-Tainter machines, so in a sense it's an extension of the series. It's clearly very much like the earlier Graphophones, and completely unlike every design that followed.

 

We could perhaps also question if the electric and spring-motor Graphophones with Bell-Tainter topworks are technically Bell-Tainter machines. The cabinets and motors aren't. Perhaps, technically speaking, only Treadle machines are truly Bell-Tainter inventions.

 

It is perhaps hairsplitting, though it's fair to ask: what is the proper historic definition?

 

I would have to say that in my opinion, the Type G isn't a Bell-Tainter in the strict sense of the term, but it is so clearly based on their design that it's a suitable descriptive term today even if not truly correct.

 

My 2c, worth a fraction of a penny in 1894 money....

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Rene, that's exactly the way I look at it.  But I was hoping for a different perspective! 

 

I have no problem calling the electric and spring motor Graphophones with Bell-Tainter topworks "Bell-Tainter machines."  After all, the top works were originally intended for the Type C treadle machines, and even the substitution of a 100 tpi feedscrew doesn't change their structure or operation.

 

The Type G (and H) are, however, unique in several respects; almost (in my mind anyway) deserving of their own category.  There's nothing else like them.  

 

Thanks for your thoughts, Rene.  I guess I'm not crazy (or maybe I am)!

 

George P. 

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So I now have to reproduce my video??  I could call it :

  • The Bell Tainters and the Graphophone previously known as a Bell Tainter.  Or
  • The Bell Tainters and the ex-royal G, or 
  • The Bell Tainters (and like demoted Pluto,)  the G Dwarf Bell Tainter. 

Perhaps since Columbia/ The American Graphophone obliterated patent information relating to Sumner on many large pulley tags on K's I's U's, etc. we should no longer call them Bell Tainter Machines. 

 

Which brings me to a serious note. There is no evidence that in the day (1894/ 1895), any of this class of early Columbia/ American Graphophone machines were referred to as "Bell Tainter machines." The machines were referred to a Perfected Graphophones (among other individual model marketing names) - all of them, even the G.   The term "Bell Tainter machine" is a an identity/ name used by more recent collectors to refer to American Gramophone Machines produced up until the Model N in Late 1895.  The 1894 G was produced in the same era along the same form (Seriously, there is enough  resemblance in the top works, mandrel, motor, overall form, to other peer machines), and is included in the class of machines referred to by the contemporarily made up name  of  "Bell Tainter machines."  

 

It is a question that casts doubt on something that isn't even real as it relates to the true history of the machine. "Bell Tainter Machines" is term made up and used by contemporary collectors to refer to a class of machines, not a fact or artifact from the era the machines were produced. 

 

One last tongue in check comment. Collectors today refer to Victors with a "rigid arm" (term used in period advertising) as a "Rigid Tone Arm Machine."  "Rigid Tone Arm Machine" is  a term not used in Victor Advertising. These machines were referred to as the "New Model" II (victor E) or New Model III (Victor M).  Sometimes they do say "Rigid Arm" in the text.  I could be wrong, but I am not aware of an example of the Victor R being represented in advertising with a "Rigid Arm."  Should we debate the Victor R 's demotion from the collector made nomenclature of "Rigid Tone Arm Machine" until we see a documented example of it in period advertising?

 

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