About This Site



Phonographia are popular culture connections with the phonograph.

As a virtual scrapbook (1) phonographia are paper ephemera from magazines, newspapers, ads, cartoons, postcards, books and other daily life memorabilia.

Two factolas to remember about the phonograph:

1) The Phonograph changed the human perception of ephemeral sound.

2) The Phonograph was a machine that started a social and cultural revolution. Records revolved and played "bottled up" music and speech anytime, anywhere and as often as you wanted.

Additionally, advertisements for phonographs were prototypes for future home entertainment devices. Phonograph ads had some typical consumer marketing appeals such as being a necessity for a happy home. But they also made unique promises offering "the best seat in the house" with 'live' entertainment captured on records for home and personal listening. To have such performances was likened to everyone being able to to enjoy entertainment previously limited to kings or millionaires or the possessor of Aladdin's lamp.


"When the King of England wants to see a show..." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1906

"The whole family will welcome the new songs, the good stories, and the bright music." The Edison Phonograph Monthly, 1912

As a consumer product the phonograph offered its diverse entertainment to any home."There is nothing that will compare" said the 1898 Columbia Graphophone ad. The homes in these advertisements, however, were often scenes of comfort or wealth. Consumers saw in these ads how the upper classes were enjoying music which was also the intention of the phonograph ads promoting opera recordings and high culture entertainment. Opera and its opera stars in many early phonograph ads played influential roles supporting the advertising themes that their performances were just for you and were the equivalent of hearing live music in Opera Houses.


"You can touch the button and get any kind of music, any sort of entertainment that appeals to the sense of hearing."

Munsey's Magazine, May 1898


No one, of course, became a member of the privileged class or an actual patron of the Metropolitan Opera House by simply purchasing a phonograph. But opera records did provide high-class prestige for the phonograph industry, and the famous bands and orchestras, popular singers, and comedians on phonograph records made it an incomparable entertainer. The phonograph, it was repeatedly said, offered something for everyone. Every family could be happier listening to its entertainment because there were no limits to what you could hear, including opera. "You can touch the button and get any kind of music, any sort of entertainment that appeals to the sense of hearing."

Edison was explicit that his Phonograph was the "perfect musical instrument" and should be in every American home stating in a 1907 ad "I want to see a Phonograph in Every American Home." And there was no reason to wait. "On Free Trial. No Money Down. No C.O.D."


Phonographia is the B-Side (4A) history of the phonograph told by its innumerable popular culture connections. These connections are essentially countless "small stories"(4) and ephemera which show in how many ways the phonograph and recorded sound have been part of daily life decade after decade.

The connections and interconnections leading from the main galleries (PhonoArt, Factolas, PhonoAds, Friends of the Phonograph and PhonoMultiMedia) hopefully will not seem like you're "in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks." (7)

To read about my life-long interest with talking machines and phonograph ephemera see Collecting and Phonographia - One Collector's Perspective.

For my one-off 'about' perspective of "What's It All About?" read About This Site - Postscript.

For a brief history of the phonograph and a few factolas including the phonograph's relationship with other sound delivering descedent devices see The Evolution of a Revolution.


That is all.

Doug Boilesen a.k.a. DB



EVERY HOME WILL sooner or later have its PHONOGRAPH as a NECESSITY.

10" x 14" circa ;1899 broadside advertising the "Finest Entertainer in the World"

Courtesy of rareamerican.com