The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:07 pm 
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Victor V
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Needle Tins are Addictive
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:32 pm
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Location: Belmont, North Carolina
Hindsight vs. Foresight...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:38 pm 
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Victor I
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:49 pm
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orpington wrote:
So, here we have PROOF that Mark Twain was recorded on several occasions as early as 1888. It increases the plausibility of at least one recording existing somewhere, even though many were known to have been destroyed in a fire.

Am puzzled by why Mark Twain was recorded at the height of his popularity and yet the recordings were never released.


Was ANYTHING released in 1888? I didn't think the idea of pre-recorded cylinders being marketable started until 1889, if not 1890. And by then maybe either the technology had improved enough for these to not be considered fit to release, or Edison was reluctant to do so either for the sentimental value of the (unique) records, or worry about legal/contractual issues. What would be surprising is Edison not calling him back to record sooner than 1908...


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:46 pm 
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Victor II
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:25 pm
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Location: North Central Iowa
Wasn't he pretty depressed the last few years of his life? It seems like I read somewhere that by the last few years of his life most of his friends kind of avoided him because he was usually in a foul mood and had grown more radical in his views about many things. It seems like another one of his daughters passed away a few years before he died as well (I think she died in the bathtub, drowning from an epileptic seizure). And his wife died too and they were very close. That may have a lot to do with his not making any recordings later on. I know his daughter that died in the middle 1890's really, really was hard on him.


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:20 pm 
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Victor IV
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A new blank with authentic formula and spiral core!
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:50 am
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Location: 615 1/2 South Main Street Princeton IL 61356.
Unfortunately 1889 was a dicey year in which to record. The # 957 formulation was used in early/mid 1889, It was aluminum stearate, but tempered with red olaic acid and this is partially in the string core era, by May of 1889, this formulation began to sweat really bad and the recordings became un-playable.


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:48 am 
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Victor VI
I have good days...this might not be one of them
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:23 pm
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Location: Albany NY
What was Twain's opinion on the phonograph as an entertainment medium? Al i know in his writings are the remarks in The American Claimant, where a character proposes to hook up phonographs loaded with curses to wagons to save the effort of yelling at horses. He might also have worried that if people bought records they might not attend his lectures.

I know he didn't think much of the Telephone.


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:46 am 
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Victor IV
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 7:12 pm
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This provides more detail about Twain's dictation recordings -- http://edison.rutgers.edu/twain.htm

OF


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:20 pm 
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Victor IV
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This is the first time I have read of Twain having so many interactions with Edison and phonographs, and over a period of years. All the more frustrating that nothing seems to have survived. Twain would have outsold Uncle Josh!


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 Post subject: Re: Mark Twain recording ($$$)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:14 pm 
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Victor VI
I have good days...this might not be one of them
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:23 pm
Posts: 3483
Location: Albany NY
VintageTechnologies wrote:
This is the first time I have read of Twain having so many interactions with Edison and phonographs, and over a period of years. All the more frustrating that nothing seems to have survived. Twain would have outsold Uncle Josh!


Possibly- but James Whitcomb Riley was as popular a poet as Twain was an author, & you hardly ever find Riley's discs out in the wild. Uncle Josh was popular because he came across well on records.


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 Post subject: Twain Impression By His Close Friend
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:48 pm 
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Victor Jr
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Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:24 pm
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While we're all sorting through our molded brown wax recordings for one of Twain's abandoned cylinders, we do have one unique source of information on his voice to enjoy in the mean time. Actor William Gillette, famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes, was Twain's friend and neighbor. In this audio recording, he does an impression of Twain which people who knew him acclaimed as a very accurate rendition of his voice! I hope we do get the chance to hear the real McCoy some day though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqHPN4lW6tI


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