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Edison Record Boxes (U.S. Standard-size): Chronology


phonogfp
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Over 50 years ago, Allen Koenigsberg showed black & white images of Edison cylinder record box labels in his book, Edison Cylinder Records, 1889 - 1912.  Many collectors have referred to this book over the years, but I'm not aware of a complete online chronology of Edison cylinder boxes.  This post will do its best to duplicate what was included in ECR 1889 - 1912, plus add the known Amberol and Blue Amberol labels as well.

 

Special series such as the Grand Opera, Royal Purple, Concert, Special A-J, and the D-series boxes are not included here.

 

Like Columbia, Edison's first cylinder boxes were plain pasteboard, but at some point (probably in 1899), the National Phonograph Company began applying labels to its boxes.

 

Type 1

The first Edison box did not feature a portrait of Edison.  Records sold in this box were originally wrapped in cotton.

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Type 2

 

The second type Edison box added a picture of Edison; a feature which would remain for the next two decades.  The rest of the label was quite similar to the Type 1, minus the verbiage.  Records sold in this box were originally wrapped in cotton.

  Edbox2.thumb.JPG.630b6a904f33d4bf210d851147eeb8ca.JPG

 

Type 3

 

This label, the first in an overall blue tint, was the first to incorporate the National Phonograph Co. script below Edison's portrait, and also the first to display patent dates in a boxed area.   Records sold in this box were originally wrapped in cotton.  (Photos of Type 3 courtesy of John Levin.)

 

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Type 4

 

This label was also rendered in shades of blue, and the patents ended with Oct. 1, 1901.

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Type 5

 

This label was quite similar to Type 4, but the patents ended with Nov. 11, 1902.  Records sold in this box were originally wrapped in wax paper.

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Type 6

 

This was the first "Gold Mounded" label, heralding the arrival of harder, molded black wax records.  The patent dates ended with Nov. 18, 1902.  Records sold in this box were originally wrapped in wax paper.

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Type 7

 

This box was of larger diameter than those which preceded and followed it.  It incorporated a pasteboard spindle inside to secure the record, thus eliminating the need for wax paper wrapping.  The label was a combination of buff, white, and red; a palate that would persist until the end of Edison two-minute record production in 1912.  A price of 35 cents was specified , and patent dates ended with Nov. 18, 1902.  This box was announced in the July 1904 issue of The Edison Phonograph Monthly, along with the appearance of titles embossed in white on the rims of the records.

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Type 8

 

This box reverted to a smaller diameter and dispensed with the internal spindle.  The record was protected by a cloth liner (found in all subsequent Edison two-minute cylinder boxes), whose tendency to absorb moisture and promote mold damage has been the bane of collectors.  Patent dates ended with May 23, 1905.  This is probably the most common Edison two-minute record box.

 

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Type 9

 

This label was quite similar to Type 8, but the patent dates ended with April 23, 1907.

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Type 10

 

This label eliminated the "Gold Moulded" nomenclature, and the patent dates continued to end with April 23, 1907.

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Type 10a

 

Thanks to Rich Hegwood, here's a variation that doesn't seem to fit the chronology.  On one hand, this label retains the earlier "Gold Moulded" terminology, but on the other hand, it carries a patent date of March 3, 1908!  I can't explain it, but for the sake of comprehensiveness, here it is:

 

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Type 11

 

This label was quite similar to Type 10, but with patent dates ending with March 3, 1908.

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Type 12

 

This was the final design for the Edison two-minute cylinder record box.  The label stated that it was a "Standard Record" as opposed to the new four-minute Amberol Records which were being sold alongside it.  The patent dates ended with June 28, 1910.

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Type 13

 

This was the first of the Amberol boxes, housing Edison's new four-minute wax record.  The label was marked, "Form 1375 August 1908."  Like its predecessors, the box was lined with cotton to protect the record.

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Type 14

 

This label was quite similar to Type 13, but with redesigned boxed information, and marked, "Form 1533 Feb. 20, 1909."

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Type 14a

 

Thanks again to Rich Hegwood for the photos of this late wax Amberol box, which shows Thomas A. Edison Inc. as being the manufacturer and a July 12, 1910 patent date.  Note also the prominent space for the catalog number at the 2:00 position outside Edison's portrait.

 

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Type 15

 

This the first of the Blue Amberol boxes.  Patent information was moved to the lid, creating the plainest of all the Edison box labels, marked, "Form No. 475 June 1, 1912."   Because of the robust celluloid surfaces, no cotton was used in the interiors of these and subsequent boxes.

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Type 16

 

This box was quite similar to Type 15, retaining the same Form number, but dated Dec. 1913.  The major difference was in Edison's portrait.

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Type 17

 

This label was the first of the orange and blue designs which carried Edison's dwindling cylinder trade to its end.  This design is marked, "Form 3509 Feb. 1917."

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Type 18

 

This label retained the same Forum number, but was marked, "3509 - 125M - 418."  (The "418" might denote April 1918.)  The most noticeable changes were the addition of laboratory retorts on each side of the word, "RECORD," and patent dates ending with Dec. 4, 1917. 

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Type 19

 

This label retained the same Form number, but carried a different portrait of Edison.  A U.S. price of 35 cents was printed on the front.

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Type 20

 

The penultimate label for Edison entertainment cylinder records retained the 35 cent price on the front, but like the very first Edison box labels that had appeared many years before, there was no portrait of Edison. 

 

Edibox20.thumb.JPG.ebc8a723ed3660c2b2b405dcef719040.JPG

 

Type 21

 

This label - the final one used for Edison entertainment cylinder records - carried the same Form number as the previous design, but eliminated the price.  As in the Type 20, Edison's likeness was not featured on this label.

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Edbox19b.thumb.JPG.39a4d082333fd3133390a4ea96a43f9a.JPG

 

George P.

 

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Neilvanstem

Great to see. Good job. many I do not have! Now to show us the insides! ha ha Like the one mentioned that had pasteboard spindle in the middle to hold the cylinder in place? I'd like to compare it to the few I have. Maybe I'll go to facebook and ask folks for photos. Thanks again George great to see as I've said.

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1 hour ago, Neilvanstem said:

Great to see. Good job. many I do not have! Now to show us the insides! ha ha Like the one mentioned that had pasteboard spindle in the middle to hold the cylinder in place? I'd like to compare it to the few I have. Maybe I'll go to facebook and ask folks for photos. Thanks again George great to see as I've said.

 

Now Neil...  Why would you go to Facebook to ask for photos?

 

Edbox7c.thumb.JPG.4c9ed0029c47fdd06659c2730ad31f48.JPG

 

I'm glad you like the post - thanks for your kind words.

 

And thanks to you as well, Fran!

 

George P.

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Thanks George! I never realized there were so many different styles. This will be a really great reference to have around!

 

Nate

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You're welcome, Nate! 

 

I didn't realize there were so many either...until I started gathering them together.  By the time I dug out all the two-minute boxes, I didn't want to include the four-minute boxes, but I had done both types for the Columbia box posting so I decided I had to.

 

George P.

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Analogous

Thanks for producing this George.  It's a great reference.

 

The early boxes (pre-1903) seem to be sourced from multiple manufacturers based on lid styles and diameters.  Have others noticed small differences between later types?

 

John

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Thanks, and you're welcome, John.

 

As for variations in later boxes, I haven't noticed any.  I believe after 1903 the Seeley Tube and Box Company (Newark, NJ) manufactured all of National's record boxes.

 

George P.

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  • 2 weeks later...
jimmy47

I have been cataloguing my cylinders this week.  Now you have given me something else to do.  Thanks a lot, George.?

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As usual excellent work and very informative.  I had no idea that there were so many variants to these boxes.

 

Thank you Geaorge

 

Bruce

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phonogfp

Neil, the box you picture is covered by this disclaimer at the beginning of the initial post:

 

"Special series such as the Grand Opera, Royal Purple, Concert, Special A-J, and the D-series boxes are not included here."

 

George P.

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Neilvanstem
14 hours ago, phonogfp said:

Neil, the box you picture is covered by this disclaimer at the beginning of the initial post:

 

"Special series such as the Grand Opera, Royal Purple, Concert, Special A-J, and the D-series boxes are not included here."

 

George P.

I guess I do not pay much attention nor read much. So which is what I show? Is my box for grand opera?

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phonogfp

Neil, these pebbled boxes were made in blue (like yours) and maroon for "Concert" and "Grand Opera" records.

 

George P.

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phonogfp
On 3/11/2021 at 10:35 AM, Bruce said:

As usual excellent work and very informative.  I had no idea that there were so many variants to these boxes.

 

Thank you Geaorge

 

Bruce

 

You're quite welcome, Bruce.  Thanks for the kind words.

 

George P.

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  • 1 month later...
Tinfoilphono

Any thoughts on this oddball box? I seem to recall seeing one discussed online a few years ago but can't find the link now. 

 

 

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phonogfp

That's a new one on me.  I've seen Clarence Ferguson labels, but this doesn't seem to be one of those.  It's odd that the "Blue Amberol" nomenclature was omitted.

 

George P.

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Analogous

I've seen these.  It was definitely for a dictation machine blank based on the bottom hole and flocking, but I don't know the vintage.  

 

Another addition to George's list is the box used for the 1930 School Test Series.  It's larger in diameter to accommodate flocking.  Lid diameter is commensurately larger too.1335831691_SchoolTestSeries.thumb.JPG.ce9c80b3abf0f0c7569111308fcc0421.JPG

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phonogfp

I like these oddball boxes, and I encourage more of them. 

 

However, keep in mind that the original post was intended to cover only the popular series entertainment cylinders, as stated in the introduction:

 

Special series such as the Grand Opera, Royal Purple, Concert, Special A-J, and the D-series boxes are not included here.

 

Keep the exceptions coming!

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Tinfoilphono

I find it odd that it could be a dictation blank. Weren't those always 6"?


There's also the notation on the back:

 

"No license whatever is granted to anyone to use this patented record for making duplicates, nor for any other purpose except the reproduction of sound upon an Edison Phonograph."

 

That doesn't seem to refer to blanks.

 

Very curious.

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Tinfoilphono

As a followup, I wrote to Helmut Janisch, who as many of you know is working on a book about cylinder boxes. Here's his thoughts:

 

I am not totally sure about this Edison box. Probably it was used in the last few years of the Edison cylinder business - from the mid 1920s onwards - and it had a blank cylinder in. I have no information if it perhaps was even sold after 1929 when Edison closed the entertainment cylinder department. On youtube there is a 1947 silent movie where one of this boxes is clearly seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoF-Y4jUYZQ (at 7:20 minutes). When I first saw this box I had a feeling that these might have been used for storing master cylinders, as the padding is very thick and protective, but now I rather think it was for blank cylinders to be sold.

 

The video is remarkable! Here are two screen shots of the box in 1947.

box1.png

box2.png

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