The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

It is currently Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:00 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Astra 5
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:47 pm 
Offline
Victor II
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:17 am
Posts: 345
Hello All,
Does anyone have any information on the Astra 5 soundbox. I believe Astra soundboxes and accessories were being made since the very early 1920's . I read somewhere that the Astra 5 was made using a patent from EMG.


Attachments:
Astra 5a (2).JPG
Astra 5a (2).JPG [ 608.55 KiB | Viewed 1333 times ]
Astra 5a (1).JPG
Astra 5a (1).JPG [ 551.18 KiB | Viewed 1333 times ]
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:48 pm 
Online
Auxetophone
User avatar
TMF Administrator
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:01 am
Posts: 2439
Location: Ferndale, MI
chunnybh wrote:
I read somewhere that the Astra 5 was made using a patent from EMG.


It sure looks like it, at least!
Brandon


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:50 pm 
Offline
Victor V
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
Posts: 2140
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Astra soundboxes were retailed by The Gramophone Exchange, and I have also read that they were built under license from EMG. The question is, why would EMG have entered into such an arrangement?

Here is a period advertisement for an earlier version of the Astra :


Attachments:
displayPage[1].jpg
displayPage[1].jpg [ 391.95 KiB | Viewed 1314 times ]
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:30 pm 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 534
Location: Hampshire, England.
Here are a few extracts from "The book of the gramophone" issued by The Gramophone Exchange Ltd giving some background to the general "Astra" products that company made available---presumably throughout the nineteen-thirties. It does not answer the question of exactly who was responsible for the detailed design of the latter-day EMG/Expert type of leaf-spring platform soundboxes which were offered but does refer to Mr Russell being the "inventor" of the earlier pressed silk variety pictured in Roger's 1925 advertisement extract.

Page 13 refers to the Number 5 Super Model having been "designed specially for The Gramophone Exchange by the greatest authority on acoustic soundboxes in this country". Is this a reference to Balfour Davey perhaps ? Clearly there had been many influences on soundbox design at that time including the work of Henry Seymour and Percy Wilson (amongst many others) but I wonder if it is known for sure to whom this reference specifically referred ?

The Super Model cost 50 shillings which was dramatically more expensive than the numbers 2 & 4 EMG models at 30 shillings but cheaper than the numbers 1 & 3 at £3 each---as advertised on page 15. The Number 3 Astra retailed at a more competitive 25 shillings. In passing, it is also interesting to observe that the Meltrope contributions were available for the substantially lesser cost of twelve shillings and sixpence.

It is worth noting that the Astra No.5 was designed without a tonearm clamp ring to be offered to customers with any type of gramophone---an omission which one would have thought might actually have reduced the appeal and general usability.

It seems reasonable to speculate that all EMG and Astra soundboxes may have been built in the same workshops or by the same craftsmen but exactly what the commercial arrangements were is perhaps information kept secret in contemporary days and now lost in the mists of time ? Maybe EMG were not able to secure cast iron patents on "their" soundbox design and were vulnerable to competition ? Certainly Michael Ginn continued to repeat the essential principles in the later Expert boxes begging the question as to who made those ?



Click on images to enlarge.


Attachments:
DSC04279.JPG
DSC04279.JPG [ 2.74 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04273.JPG
DSC04273.JPG [ 2.26 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04272.JPG
DSC04272.JPG [ 2.88 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04274.JPG
DSC04274.JPG [ 2.78 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04275.JPG
DSC04275.JPG [ 2.82 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04276.JPG
DSC04276.JPG [ 2.49 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04277.JPG
DSC04277.JPG [ 2.94 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]
DSC04278.JPG
DSC04278.JPG [ 3.05 MiB | Viewed 1282 times ]


Last edited by emgcr on Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:02 am 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 534
Location: Hampshire, England.
Here is an extract from a small publication "The Magnificent Music Machine" by Michael Ginn's son Joe in 1996 which sheds more light on the subject. The comment in relation to the lack of patents at that time is particularly interesting. Additionally, "the greatest authority" referred to above might well have been Percy Wilson ?


Attachments:
DSC04280.JPG
DSC04280.JPG [ 3.58 MiB | Viewed 1242 times ]
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:51 am 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:03 am
Posts: 659
Location: near Utopia, UK
Fascinating, thanks to all for posting.

How does this one sound, Chunny?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:10 am 
Offline
Victor II
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:17 am
Posts: 345
Quote:
How does this one sound, Chunny?

It sounds as good as any 2-spring EMG or Expert soundbox. It's as least as heavy as a 4-spring especially with that solid mass where it connects to the tonearm. Pretty much identical to an EMG soundbox minus the Meltrope patent. That is it's drawback as it's not easy to fit it securely to a tonearm.
I wonder if Meltrope ever got any money for the use of their patent.
Thank you Graham for the uploads.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Astra 5
PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:08 pm 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 534
Location: Hampshire, England.
The full details surrounding the story of EMG/Expert/Astra soundboxes are not precisely known but Frank James, author of the definitive and famous book on the subject “The EMG Story”, knows more than anyone and comments thus:


“It is my understanding that Horace Hill made the EMG and later, Expert soundboxes, but no one knows who actually assembled the early ones, based on the Exhibition.....I might hazard that they were designed and assembled by Henry Seymour, but it is only a guess. I know that Edward Creese assembled the EMG boxes, and later the Expert boxes, and I believe he did the basic tuning, which was fine-tuned by Dave Phillips.
As to the Astra No 5, I was told that these were made under licence to the Gramophone Exchange from EMG, but whether Horace Hill made these too I do not know.”


“Hill produced for EMG up to the split, but afterwards moved out from Grape Street, but he continued to make boxes for EMG, as I have been told, as he was all tooled up for them. I have never found a patent, nor seen reference to one anywhere, but licensing the design to the Gramophone Exchange would have been a gentleman's agreement I guess. After all, in those days there were still gentlemen !
That's all I know.........until someone discovers more ?”


Many thanks Frank and thank you Chunny for the original question which has prompted this clarification.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: HisMastersVoice and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Americanized by Maël Soucaze.