Visions of Artists in the Home

Imagining Performances via the Phonograph


By Doug Boilesen, 2020

Early phonograph advertisements had multiple ways to portray recording artists coming into the home.

Identifiable artists might be pictured inside a horn or emerging from the horn.

Later cabinet model machines, like the Victrola and the Grafonola, had artists coming out their doors and louvres.

Artists could also be pictured standing or performing literally on a record.

This gallery focuses on another way phonograph ads visualized artists as home entertainers. Floating above machines ethereal performers and opera stars appeared at your command. "The world's greatest living artists sing for you in your home. Anytime, anywhere..." (Victor ad, 1906)


Adelina Patti singing "Home Sweet Home," Munsey's Magazine, 1906 (PM-0977)



Magnola Phonograph ad, The Talking Machine World, February 1917



Magnola Phonograph ad, The Talking Machine World, May 1917






"The voice by the fireside" - "You listen and forget it's the Victor" 1906 (PM-1365)



1906, Talk=o=phone, Pearson's magazine (PM-0964)



Victrola, 1914




Columbia Grafonola 1919 - Visualizing with Songs Across the Sea (PM-0845)



Vocalion Phonograph, Cosmopolitan magazine, 1916



The Columbia Grafonola "The Treasure-Casket of Music" March 1916



Aeolian Vocalion Phonograph, The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1918



Aeolian Vocalion Phonograph, London magazine ad, March 1918



"The veritable embodiment of the liberated spirit of music," MacLean's Magazine, 1921



Victrola Waiting to play for you - circa 1920



"Introduce your whole family to the world's greatest music." The Saturday Evening Post, 1954


"Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Cultures," by Jacob Smith, University of California Press, ©2011

Note: This book cover was added for its image of the performers of the spoken word emerging from the record player from the 1940's to the 1970's in the advertising tradition of music artists and performers at the beginning of the twentieth century.