Historical information

Edison Records was one of the early record labels that pioneered sound recording and reproduction, and was an important player in the early recording industry.
The first phonograph cylinders were manufactured in 1888, followed by Edison's foundation of the Edison Phonograph Company in the same year. The recorded wax cylinders, later replaced by Blue Amberol cylinders, and vertical-cut Diamond Discs, were manufactured by Edison's National Phonograph Company from 1896 on, reorganized as Thomas A. Edison, Inc. in 1911. Until 1910 the recordings did not carry the names of the artists. The company began to lag behind its rivals in the 1920s, both technically and in the popularity of its artists, and halted production of recordings in 1929.
Thomas A. Edison invented the phonograph, the first device for recording and playing back sound, in 1877. After patenting the invention and benefiting from the publicity and acclaim it received, Edison and his laboratory turned their attention to the commercial development of electric lighting, playing no further role in the development of the phonograph for nearly a decade.

Start of the Recording Industry:
In 1887, Edison turned his attention back to improving the phonograph and the phonograph cylinder. The following year, the Edison company introduced the ”Perfected Phonograph”. Edison introduced wax cylinders approximately 4+1⁄4 inches (11 cm) long and 2+1⁄4 inches (5.7 cm) in external diameter, which became the industry standard. They had a maximum playing time of about 3 minutes at 120 RPM, but around the turn of the century the standard speed was increased to (first 144) and then 160 RPM to improve clarity and volume, reducing the maximum to about 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Several experimental wax cylinder recordings of music and speech made in 1888 still exist.
The wax entertainment cylinder made its commercial debut in 1889 at first, the only customers were entrepreneurs who installed nickel-in-the-slot phonographs in amusement arcades, saloons and other public places. At that time, a phonograph cost the equivalent of several months' wages for the average worker and was driven by an electric motor powered by hazardous, high-maintenance wet cell batteries. After more affordable spring-motor-driven phonographs designed for home use were introduced in 1895, the industry of producing recorded entertainment cylinders for sale to the general public began in earnest.
Blank records were an important part of the business early on. Most phonographs had or could be fitted with attachments for the users to make their own recordings. One important early use, in line with the original term for a phonograph as a "talking machine", was in business for recording dictation. Attachments were added to facilitate starting, stopping, and skipping back the recording for dictation and playback by stenographers. The business phonograph eventually evolved into a separate device from the home entertainment phonograph. Edison's brand of business phonograph was called the Ediphone.


The collection of three phonograph cylinders are an example of early recorded music use for domestic entertainment. They are significant as they represent the beginnings of the modern recording industry.

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”