The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 12:06 pm 
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Victor III
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Richards Laboratories http://www.richardslaboratories.com producing high quality cylinder blanks
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:28 pm
Posts: 732
This issue is another one that boils down
to the old adage: "Follow the Money"

The way I think of brown wax cylinders is that
there are still plenty of originals out there.

They turn up from time to time. One in good
condition with recognizable tunes on it, of
course fetches a relatively high price.

Most though are all moldy. OK, granted that at
some time in the distant future (maybe) there will
be some sort of technology for guessing at, and filling
in missing words and/or music that is suspected of
being on some moldy old brown wax cylinders.

The real question is: Is it worth the time and
effort to preserve all of these seemingly hopelessly
molded-up noisy scratchy old brown wax cylinders
in some hope of "someday" recovering (some) information
from them?

Or, does it make more sense to just shave them
and get down to reasonably quiet wax so that they
can be re-used now to make new recordings upon?

A lot of times, that option yields a useful
brown wax blank which is an original blank, and it
costs less money than a brand new one!

Follow the money.

I am quite sure that all of the armchair railfans
had a huge fit years ago when hundreds of perfectly
workable steam locomotives were cut up for scrap.

They probably whined and cried the blues about
"how unthinkable" that is. But the railroads
wanted to cash in on the scrap value so they cut
them up.

Instead of crying bloody murder, the best option would
have been for the complaining parties to purchase
one of these locomotives to save it from being scrapped.

A few were actually saved this way.

So hey, it's called "free enterprise".
For those who feel strongly about saving all the
moldy old brown wax cylinders, then by all means
buy them all up and save them in a temperature and
humidity controlled nitrogen atmosphere!

All it takes is money, and lots of it! :coffee:
"Sustained success depends on searching
for, and gaining, fundamental understanding"

-Bell System Credo


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 7:45 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:21 am
Posts: 87
IMHO, anytime we lose anything historical and irreplaceable, it is a loss to us and future generations. Now, I'm not a "techie" and I could be wrong, but, with the incredible advancements in technology and the power of computers today some ancient recordings have been brought back to life from seemingly unrescuable (is that a word) recordings. If that can be done today, what will the future bring with even more inevitable technical advancements?

Save them, 'cause you never know.


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 8:18 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:08 pm
Posts: 1921
Location: Harrison Township, MI
I agree with preservation when there's something to preserve, (even if 99.9% wouldn't find interest in it).

Heavily molded cylinders simply have no grooves left. You can't preserve what isn't there. I'm fairly certain that no technology, new or old or futuristic or as yet undiscovered, can play back a non-existent groove. It's like preserving the paint on a totally rusted car.

No disrespect meant to Shawn for his dogged preservationist desires.


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 10:02 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:55 am
Posts: 1758
Location: Eugene/ Springfield Oregon USA
JerryVan wrote:
I agree with preservation when there's something to preserve, (even if 99.9% wouldn't find interest in it).

Heavily molded cylinders simply have no grooves left. You can't preserve what isn't there. I'm fairly certain that no technology, new or old or futuristic or as yet undiscovered, can play back a non-existent groove. It's like preserving the paint on a totally rusted car.

No disrespect meant to Shawn for his dogged preservationist desires.


And yet, they try. :roll: "It's only original once!" Yeah, but rust ain't original. :lol:

I see both sides of the argument here. The problem is supply/ demand/ space. It's like some sellers who break up machines because the parts are worth more than the total. Rather than complain, buy all the parts and reassemble it.

I am sure that Rich is doing his due diligence in reviewing these cylinders before shaving them. If anyone is upset with Rich or anyone else doing what he feels is best for his merchandise, then that person oughta step up and buy the cylinders for what shaved blanks go for and save the "perp" the labor.

Win- win.

I gave up agonizing over what's out of my control after they put me on blood pressure meds. After awhile, I no longer needed the meds. :)

Just sayin' is all.


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 11:34 pm 
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Victor IV
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:41 pm
Posts: 1794
Location: Linden, NJ 07036
I test play every cylinder I purchase. I also clean them with Labtone. You never know what you may find in a box of brown wax cylinders. The cylinders that I find non playable or with no real content are the ones I shave. I probably keep for myself or sell 80% to 90% of the Cylinders I purchase. I’ve had moldy brown wax cylinders at shows any the only interest I’ve ever had was from someone who wanted to buy them to shave. Never has any collector showed interest in purchasing any of them. I fact the opposite is true, I’ve had brown wax collectors offering me their moldy cylinders because they had no interest in keeping them.

Rich Gordon


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 12:43 am 
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Victor V
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Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:52 pm
Posts: 2089
Here we go with the old style shavers and the new style savers. The eternal struggle.


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 10:59 pm 
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Victor V
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Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:17 am
Posts: 2852
Location: Where there's "hamburger ALL OVER the highway"...
I confess that, in my earlier days, having no modern blanks to experiment with, I shaved moldy brown waxes.

I've "seen the light" since then, and stick with the small stock of new blanks I have - although I admit I haven't tried recording again for some time....

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 1:37 am 
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Victor V
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Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:23 am
Posts: 2148
Location: NW Indiana B-19;VV-IV; VV-VI;VV-XVI; Edison Home B; Amberola 30; Col. BK; Magnola;
In a perfect world, if we were all millionaires, we could save more of the brown wax cylinders. The truth is that this is not a low cost endeavor, most brown wax cylinders by now suffer from mold or other damage and most brown wax cylinders go for big bucks on auctions site like eBay. One could tie up hundreds if not thousands in these cylinders. There simply are not enough of us phonograph lovers to carry on this mission.

I honestly believe that our hobby is declining as far as newcomers. I remember as a kid there were thousands of collectors of phonographs and records and that was about 30 years ago (late 1980's). I own phonographs and most people that visit could care less about the machines. We as collectors can amass thousands in machines and records that are often unappreciated by society.

As a hobbyist, I like brown wax cylinders, but own none, it is simply cost prohibitive. Personally, I would rather own a nice jazz Amberol than a brown wax.


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:46 pm 
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Victor Jr
Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:00 am
Posts: 3
Thanks to new technologies (playback and restoration) we are now hearing music on brown wax that was unimaginable just 15 years ago. Imagine what future technologies might enable us to hear.

Today, the best we can do is scan the surface of a cylinder - mold and all. I predict that in the near-future, technology will enable us to ignore the mold and only scan the wax. Of course mold doesn't just sit on the wax; it pits it. But still, a moldy cylinder is not - by definition - a worthless cylinder. I picked up several at Union last year that were moments away from being sold for shaving. They all have audible recordings made by Columbia, ca. 1895. On ebay, nobody would buy them but so what?

These early cylinders are not analogous with discs or phonographs or cars. Since they were produced in small batches, usually, multiple copies of the same title are multiple versions. This property of brown wax combined with the likelihood that future technologies will extract even more sound from them for us to study and enjoy, says that those that appear unplayable should not be shaved.

Cylinders that may have valuable content but are too moldy to enjoy can be donated to sound archives for a tax deduction.

Am I saying never shave anything? No. Cylinders are acceptable "shavers" if they have clearly been re-recorded or if a known better copy of the title exists in a sound archive.


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 Post subject: Re: Brown Wax cylinders More destroyed now than ever!
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 10:20 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
Posts: 1402
Location: 615 1/2 South Main Street Princeton IL 61356.
[quote="rgordon939"]I’ve read your entire post and although I understand what your saying I must disagree with you. I know that the cylinders I shave have no historical value or any other type of value. They have all been tested to see is there is any usable content on them before shaving. We do not know the total number of brown wax cylinders produced but it seems there are a lot of them still out there. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands in private collections and places like the UCSB.

A question for you. Why haven’t you devoted your time and experience to the preservation of Brown Wax Cylinders rather than trying to reinvent the wheel making new blanks.


I am devoting time to find ways of preserving them. I will publish when I have amassed enough data. It really doesn't matter It is a matter of "Money" as others say. And I guess the hope of the collector community. is that the more original brown wax that are destroyed the more valuable, the excellent ones will be. This thead has really crushed my trust in the phonograph community as a whole. I work with museums, and archives around the country. This attitude makes me very uneasy. It is certainly the attack received by my post, that kind of attitude is the reason why parties who would be interested in collecting are turned off. I will continue my research and make blanks, and if nobody buys them, that is fine, I enjoy the experimentation of it. And I do have a whole public, that does appreciate them. It still seems to me for genuine interest, this hobby community is the least interested in real history or science of it. Political Correctness has also hampered the reality. Real history and thought of the past is skewed into something that was not of the real time and place these machines were used, like the blatant lie that Jazz was the most popular music at the time these phonographs were made.


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File comment: Some new examples of brown wax I have made.
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