Thursday, May 25, 2006

From the recording horn

May 25, 1907
Los Angeles

Sold on the installment plan, $1 a week with the purchase of six records at 60 cents each, the Victor Talking Machines offered performances by Caruso, Melba and Scotti, as well as John Philip Sousa’s and Arthur Pryor’s bands. Other recording artists included Schumann-Heink, Pol Plancon and Marcella Sembrich.

To sell the Victor machines, which ranged from $10 to $100 ($205.24 to $2,052.36 USD 2005), dealers in Los Angeles staged weekly concerts of new recordings. The George J. Birkel Co., 345 S. Spring St., which also sold Steinways and the Cecilian Piano Player, an external player piano device, said: “Music in the home is a necessity, not a luxury. Music has a refining influence which nothing else can give. The Victor Talking Machine brings every kind of music into your home—from Grand Opera to Ragtime.”

Later releases for 1907 included selections by the Victor Orchestra, augmented with musicians from the New York Philharmonic and the Met.
Nor did Victor neglect the demand for comic records, offering a selection of Cal Stewart’sUncle Josh” stories.

Although some discs sold for as little as 50 cents, some were as high as $5 ($102.62 USD 2005). Later in the year, dealers offered the $200 Victrola, in which the machine was enclosed in a cabinet with a hinged lid, eliminating the external horn.

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