National Museum of Scotland - Edinburgh

Memories of the Phonograph


Doug Boilesen 2023

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh has amazing objects across dozens of galleries covering centuries of Scotish history. There is no gallery dedicated to the phonograph, however, several exhibits include phonographs with text providing timelines and context. The following phonographs were viewed in September 2023.


Sound and Vision Exhibit

Three phonographs are displayed in the "Sound and Vision" representing different periods of phonograph entertainment with Scotish/UK connections.The first of these three stacked phonographs is (1) the Edison foil phonograph made by the London Stereoscopic Company, England, c.1878. The associated text included the following:

"The first phonographs worked on the same principle as later gramophones and record players, with a needle following a patterned groove. These early machines used a drum with foil, and later with wax or celluloid plastic cylinders." An overview regarding Edison's foil phonograph provided this information: "Thomas Edison was working on improvements to telegraph instruments when he discovered a way of recording and reproducing his voice onto tin foil. Alexander Graham Bell funded improvements to the idea, turning it into a commercial success."




Edison foil phonograph made by the London Stereoscopic Company, England, c.1878 with roll of tin foil. "Edison licensed a few manufacturers to make phonographs under his patents" one of which was "the London Stereoscopic Society in England." (Tinfoil Phonographs by René Rondeau, 2001, p. 81).



The record player displayed above the tin foil phonograph is (2) the Dansette portable record player. Dansette's were manufactured by the London firm of J & A Margolin Ltd. with the Monarch made between 1964 and 1968.

"Dansette record players were part of 1960s pop culture. The design set a standard for many portable record players of the time, with the speak and controls on the front and sometimes a carrying handle. By Dansette Products, Ltd. 1960s."


The Monarch by Dansette Products, Ltd. - held up to six records and drop after the previous one finished.


The third phonograph at the top is the Glasgow based Linn Products LP12, introduced in 1972 with its name derived from the 12" vinyl LP (long play record). Hi-Fi Choice reviewers voted the LP12 "the most important hi-fi component ever sold in the UK"[2] and The Absolute Sound ranked it the second most significant turntable of all time in 2011.[3] - Wikipedia


The Linn Sonder LP12 by Linn Products Ltd., 1972 (Linn Products is Glasgow based).


The 'vision' part of the Sound and Vision display (not shown here) is John Logie Baird's device which "broadcast the first blurry black and white images" fifty years after Edison's "scratchy recording of a human voice."


Grand Gallery

The Grand Gallery displays more than 800 objects in their Window on the World (Level 0-5). Information about the objects is available on kiosks. One of the exhibited objects is a Gramophone sold by E. J. Graham Ltd., Coventry, c. 1910.



A display case in another gallery features home decorative objects from the beginning of the 20th century and includes two gramophones -- the Gramophone Company Senior Monarch (1910-1912) with brass horn and the cabinet model Bijou Grand made by the Gramophone Company, (1908-1909).




While the front 'flower' of the Gramophone's brass horn is highly polished the outer back has a brownish patina adding elegance for the modern eye.





"God is a Spirit," Gramophone Monarch Record No. 04025, London, on the Bijou Grand's turntable.


Music Warehouse, 1911 (Courtesy National Museum of Scotland).


13. Humorous postcards advertising the pleasures of Scotch whisky included Nipper and His Master's Breath ( Courtesy of Scottish Life Archive, Scotch Myths Collection).


Other Connections - Television






Other Connections - Edison's Telephone