At Home or at the Opera


To convince consumers that the recorded voices of Caruso and other opera stars were portrayed with 'absolute fidelity' and worth the premium price of those records, the phonograph industry offered several advertising assurances.

First, said the ads, recording quality had reached a level that could be trusted because the greatest artists of the world wouldn’t make records if they didn’t believe it was true to their artistic interpretation with voices "as clear and true as life itself." Reality could be recreated with recorded sound. In 1929 L' Artiste Phonograph company's advertising phrase and logo summarized this succinctly: "The Artist in Reality."


"The Artist in Reality" - L'Artiste, 1929


Second, these recordings would be the legacy of the opera stars and prima donnas. Since recordings were going to live forever then no one would ever release a recording that would tarnish their artistic reputations. Victor records, it was advertised, will perpetuate "their art forever" and "immortalize them."

Third, it was in the contract: The Victor Talking Machine Company said any record that did not meet the artists expectations could be rejected by the artist. "Every Victrola Record is approved by the artist who made it Our contract demands it."

Fourth, these were the greatest artists, highly paid with most exclusive to their respective labels. The cost of a record, therefore, was a great value considering the artists' salaries and how much you saved by not going out to the opera or theatre.

Fifth, by hearing the greatest artists in the comfort of your home "you experience the same thrill of delight that comes when attending their actual performances." You are in exclusive company listening to opera records, the "highest class" of entertainment and you can do it right in your own home.


"Practically every great singer and instrumentalist of this generation makes records only for the Victor--thus perpetuating their art for all time. Life, 1918 (PM-2008)


"Worthy to form a harmonious part of the accessories of the best-appointed music-room." The Literary Digest, 1908 (PM-2010).


"Galli-Curci makes Victrola Records exclusively" - Victor Supremacy, April 11, 1918 Life


The Victrola brings the opera and concert "right into your own home, there to be enjoyed as your permanent, priceless possession. The Ladies' Home Journal, May 1919



"Victor Records by Caruso truly constitute the best autobiography which has never been equaled for vividness..." 1922 (Caruso died on August 2, 1921)


The greatest artists "have chosen Victrola Records exclusively to carry their art to all the world and immortalize them for all time," 1918"


Motion Picture Magazine, 1916


"Every rendition as true as life itself -- and it is in acknowledgment of this perfection that these great artists have chosen the Victrola..." The Ladies' Home Journal, September 1919



The National Geographic magazine , 1919 (PM-2086)


"These famous artists---universally acknowledged the greatest, and commanding the highest salaries -- make records only for the Victor because only the Victor brings out their voices as clear and true as life itself" 1911

Columbia Phonograph Company, The Talking Machine World, May 15,1908


Will the "master-magicians of music and entertainment", these "great artists sing in your home on Christmas morning?" "The foremost artists of the world make Victrola Records exclusively." Victrola, 1918.


This Christmas Message from the World's Greatest Artists pictures those artists inside someone's elegant house. However, the ad doesn't use the words "reality" of performers coming to your house (like many ads did); instead, this ad says that "they cannot be with you on Christmas Day but they can visit you through the Victrola -- their other self." Victrola. 1919



An "All-Star" Concert in Your Own Home

1921 Victor Chromolithograph Advertising Fan



Talking Machine World, 1913


"EVERY one of the world's greatest artists -- without a single exception -- can be heard on the Columbia Grafonola. Most of them make records especially for the Columbia--among them those named above." Columbia ad c. 1913.

"EVERY one of the world's greatest artists," however, obscures the difference between the records of the world's greatest artists being heard (played) on a Columbia Grafonola as opposed to those records of the world's greatest artists actually being made by Columbia. Additionally, when Columbia says that the number of the "world's greatest artists" making records for Columbia is "most of them" (which would be an interesting count) they also seem to be trying to define 'especially' and 'exclusively' as synonyms -- which they are not.



"Many of these are paid several thousand dollars each for singing a single night in Grand Opera... A single evening with the Graphophone represents thousands of dollars in professional services." Columbia Phonograph Co., 1906 (PM-0929)


"the real thing -- you can't tell it from the actual human voice!" 1909


"You hear the real Caruso..." The Geographic, 1920


"Practically every artist worthy to be called "great" in this generation has allied himself with the Victor. This is no mere coincidence, but the result of deliberate choice by those whose genius makes their judgment final. Victrola 1920



"Every night a concert in your own home..."

Mailing Card example, April 1903, The Edison Phonograph Monthly



"Home is more comfortable than an opera house, and a better place to enjoy the magnificent voices of the greatest opera stars," 1910


Artist: Otho Cushing, Life Magazine, ca. 1910



"Music as you've never heard it before -- right in your own home." Scribner's Magazine, 2-page ad, 1911

For most people, "the soul-stirring arias and concerted numbers...were hidden mysteries." Today, because of the Victor, millions are familiar with "these musical treasures..." Motion Picture Magazine, 1916.


Talking Machine World, 1915


Look at this for a program!, The Geographic, 1920


"The Victrola brings into your home the great attractions offered on the opera and concert stage." The Saturday Evening Post, 1921 - Artwork by Norman Price


The Aeolian-Vocalion with its "Graduola" allows you in your own home "the great privilege of taking an active part in the play of its records." You are able to vary "in tone color" the artists' performances with the "Artistic and Wonderful Tone Control - the Graduola. 1921


Victor Records needed "to really hear opera in your home, 1921


"Victor Records have captured the portrayals of the greatest artists exactly as given on the operatic stage, and when you hear them on the Victrola you actually experience the full glory of the grand opera performances."


Galli-Curci is "one of the outstanding artists of our day." "The greatest artists are Victor artists." 1923


At the opera or at home - Montgomery Ward Catalog 1916 (Courtesy of Antique Phonograph Society )


The Victrola brings the "masterworks into the home for all to enjoy." 1920


"You hear the greatest artists in your own home on the Victrola, you experience the same thrill of delight that comes when attending their actual performances." Victrola, 1920


"In those homes where good music has its most devoted hearers, you will invariably find the Victrola. Why? Because the highly developed taste in art is satisfied with nothing less than the best which the wide world has to offer." The Ladies' Home Journal, April 1919


"For all great music you need the Victrola," 1921 (PM-2021)


The Victrola No. 360, 1924

Farrar and Schuman-Heink, "The finest gift of all - The gift that keeps on giving." (Top section of Victor Christmas ad).


The New Orthophonic Victrola brings into your home music unparalleled in beauty..." The Ladies' Home Journal, May 1926


RCA Radiola, 1926 (PM-1989)


RCA Radiola, The Saturday Evening Post, 1929 (PM-1994)


"The Artist in Reality" - L'Artiste, 1929


The cornerstone of home Entertainment for Three Generations, May 29, 1950


"Have you ever cried "Bravo" to a recording?" Hear your favorite record "as you've never heard it before."

Philco - Famous for Quality the World Over, Life 1962