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Lambert Cylinder Records: "On This Day in Phonographic History..."


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"On This Day in Phonographic History..."


March 20, 1900: Thomas Lambert was granted a U.S. patent (No.645,920) for molding cylinder records in celluloid. These records would be marketed in various colors (typically pink for early pressings; black for later), and were the first molded cylinder records offered in significant numbers in the U.S.

#antiquephonographsociety #phonograph #gramophone #antique





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Coincidentally, the Lambert next to the black example in the foreground happens to be another copy of "Sidewalks of New York."  It must have sold well, as I've seen several other examples.


This particular copy was the first Lambert I ever found - in an antique shop with a bunch of other common cylinders.  Even in 1973, I knew what it was because I had a copy of Roland Gelatt's The Fabulous Phonograph.  It may have been the first demonstration for me that in this hobby (as in life), knowledge can be advantageous.


George P.

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  • 1 month later...


For a forthcoming article on Thomas Lambert and the celluloid cylinders we all know and love, I am seeking any information on the Company's  early records, especially those below #101 - I once opined that his system began at #101, but since I have since also seen examples as low as #3, I must admit that he started with #1. These will have pink shells and white rims, and those 3 little wedges inside the title ends. If you're lucky, you may also see a stamped imprint across the grooves, with 'Lambert Co' and the patent date of Mar 20, 1900.


Earlier examples which pre-date the pink ones are WHITE (all over). These will generally have that imprint across the grooves, and will be numbered in the high 200's and low 300's.


  It is very difficult to find any printed flyers, brochures and/or catalogs that actually list titles and artists, before August 1903. And I have never seen any such after March of 1904. The highest # for the 2" is #1053, and for the 5" is: #5128.


 Thanks for any data, clues, and things of that sort. When you see the article, you will understand why the question of Thomas Lambert's birthyear was always such a problem. And where he got the name 'Thomas.' And how he became an orphan, etc.



Allen K.


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Hi Allen,


Nice to see you here. 


I don't have any 2" pinks under 300.  Do you know the bottom of the numeric range for 5" pink Lamberts?




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  • 1 month later...

Hi John,


  Sorry I overlooked your question about the numbering system used for 5" diameter US Lamberts. The forthcoming article will reveal when they began, to the nearest month and year. The #s used started at 5001 and ended at 5128. All of the titles have now been identified except for #s 5121-5124. The first ones were dyed pink, but they soon went over to black. When the regular (2") Lamberts cost 50 cents, the Concerts (5") were $1 ea. They have gone up since then...


 If anyone has a lot of material from the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, you can look for the Lambert Co. Display there. It wasn't very far from the Booth occupied by a certain manufacturer named Edison (National Phono), Block 74.


The unusual 5" Lambert that served as a sound-track for a synchronized "talkie" will be identified for the first time.


There will also be a List (2") of the Lambert #s that were made and sold UNDER #101. Hard to believe that we were able to identify 26 of them! And for the first time, if all goes well, we will show what the legendary Orange Lambert actually looks like.  It may have been a color first described by Isaac Newton.


Lambert became an orphan at the age of 13, accounting for why he changed his name. Who could have predicted his inventive future, growing up in a small town in Ohio? He was one of only 19 Graduates from his (new) local High School.


  And how exactly did he get involved with making Hebrew/Yiddish cylinders for a small shop on the Lower East Side in NYC? Ah, always riddles...




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  • 3 months later...

The riddle posed at the end of the Lambert article (Sep 2021) has been solved.


When Thomas Lambert died in 1928, his wife Mabel was responsible for filling out his death certificate. There she claimed that Lambert's mother's maiden name was Sarah Baker. Since his mother's name was originally Sarah Lambert, this was a puzzle. [Sarah Lambert has married Levi Bennett in 1862].


With a clue provided by researcher Richard Raichelson (author of the new Orlando Marsh Bio-Discography), we were able to figure out out the source of this error. Lambert's parents (Sarah/Levi) had both died of TB in 1875-76, making him an orphan. As a result, he was essentially raised by Edmund Lambert and his own wife Rebecca because of Edmund's court-appointed Guardianship (lasting to 1883). Edmund was Sarah's older brother.


Rebecca's maiden name was, you guessed it, "Baker." Since Mabel had never met Lambert's birth mother (Sarah) but only knew his foster mother Rebecca, it is easy to see how she had gotten confused.


Rebecca Lambert (nee Baker) lived on to late 1909 when she died, sad to say, under tragic circumstances herself.




Edited by Allen
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