Historical information

The recording of Poor Old England was described as "“This nationalistic, anti-free trade song was published in 1907. The song was written by Fred Godfrey and Harry Castling” (quoted by Tim Gracyk, published on You Tube)

Gramophone cylinders (phonograph cylinders) are the earliest method used to record and reproduce sound for the commercial market. Thomas Edison made his first successful recording at the end of 1878, recording sound on a tin foil sheet wrapped around a metal cylinder.

The cylinder boxes contained the gramophone record, either on soft or had wax, to be played on a mechanical gramophone machine.

These records were popular until the early 1920’s when they were slowly superseded by the flat disc records.


These phonograph cylinders are an example of colonial recorded music and entertainment.

Physical description

Cardboard tube-shaped gramophone cylinder box with lid. The printed label on the outside of the box advertises the maker and patent details. The Catalogue Number and Title are either printed or hand written on the cylinder’s lid. This cylinder contained Record no. 13619, the recording “Poor old England” published by Castling and Godfrey, sung by Billy Williams. Made by National Phonograph Company USA. C.1907

Inscriptions & markings

On lid “Edison Record” and “This record should turn at 160 revolutions per minute, no faster” Written on lid in blue pen “Trumpet”, “EDISON AMBEROL RECORD / FOUR MINUTE”