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 Post subject: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:46 am 
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Victor IV
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Primer on brown wax. Mostly the brown wax cylinders you will encounter will be post 1895 brown wax records. The first 3 photos show 2 kinds of direct recorded (cut not moulded) Columbia brown wax records. Columbia did not start selling there records recorded on in house blanks until 1896, previous to this, Columbia records were made on Edison blanks. In the first 3 photos the lighter colored cylinder is the first widely in house made Columbia blanks based on the formula of Adolph Melzer of Evansville Indiana. This first record was recorded in early 1898, from late 1897-early 1898. The lighter blank is a commercial recording of The Laughing Song by George W Johnson. The diameter is only 2.143" in diameter, the spirals are single spiral, but very thin in cross section the early one is 4.84 inches long. Early Columbia cylinders based on the formula were lighter color because they were heated to less than 350 degrees. Columbia about 1899 found that better blanks could be made by heating the wax hotter and they heated them to 475 degrees, thus later Columbia cylinders made in mid 1899-1901 are a darker wax. The spirals changed to a wider cross section though single spiral and were longer at 4.165". Columbia cylinders are identified by the single spiral and a pronounced rounded thin end on an angle, earlier Columbia blanks being thin and short while later ones are longer and thick running at 2.185-2.183" in diameter, and mostly a dark brown color. Edison blanks as in the last picture (the one on the left is a new Shawn Borri the right is an Edison blank from 1899 it has a double spiral Edison thin ends do not have the long taper like Columbia blanks, and Edison Brown wax blanks are also about 4.165" long and blanks are around 2.180-2.190" in diameter.


Attachments:
File comment: The right cylinder is an original Edison blank, it has a double spiral, and the thin end is not as angled as the Columbia blanks, Edison blanks have a more orange cast, although late blank Edison blanks are dark brown.
new cylinder borrikkiu.jpg
new cylinder borrikkiu.jpg [ 1.15 MiB | Viewed 1259 times ]
File comment: Thin end of Columbia Brown wax. Light colored one is near the time when Columbia started to make their own blanks. The darker ones, where made when they found they needed to cook the wax above 475 to burn off impurities.
columbia thin end 1897-1900.jpg
columbia thin end 1897-1900.jpg [ 857.96 KiB | Viewed 1259 times ]
File comment: Thick end of Columbia, notice that the earlier one is more dainty than the later Columbia brown wax.
columbia thick end 1897-1900.jpg
columbia thick end 1897-1900.jpg [ 951.08 KiB | Viewed 1259 times ]
File comment: Lighter Columbia brown wax, dates previous to 1899, it is shorter, thinner than later Columbia blanks which are thicker, and longer, with a wider, single spiral.
Columbia side view 1897-1900.jpg
Columbia side view 1897-1900.jpg [ 776.39 KiB | Viewed 1259 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:32 pm 
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Victor VI
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Very interesting, thank you!
Francis; "i" for him, "e" for her
"Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while" - the unappreciative supervisor.


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:30 pm 
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Victor III
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Thanks for posting that Shawn! Interesting,
and, as always, very educational.

The fact that the people at Columbia figured out that elevating the temperature toward the end of the cooking of the wax has beneficial results lends yet more confirmation to what I've found out from my own work in this area.

As described in the text intro to my very short
video about waxmaking, I have been using with
good success the heating of the liquid wax
up to 270 degrees centigrade, which is 518
degrees Fahrenheit.

This was arrived at mainly because it's what
the whole reaction tends to do on its own
without much help from the outside.

This is because the reaction itself becomes
exothermic late in the saponification process,
throwing off it's own heat and adding it to
what the stove is already putting in. The result is a drastic temperature rise.

So much so, that should the waxmaker want to
hold the temperature down at this point in
the reaction, the pot must be removed from
the heat, and stirred, to artificially keep
the temperature down.

I've had a few batches get away from me and
rise clear up to around 280 degrees C, which
is 536 degrees F, which really is too hot!

Those blanks were very very dark ones, but
surprisingly still nice and quiet, without
an undue amount of surface noise put on
from scorching the wax.

So, to stay away from that danger zone of
burning the wax, and/or starting it on fire,
I've settled on allowing the temperature to
rise into the 260 to 270 degree C range.
More often I just use 270 C as standard.

When the wax is held there at that temp.
for about 30 minutes and not much more, that
assures complete combining of the solid
precipitate from the last addition of
hydrated aluminum. It assures that everything
gets cooked in thoroughly.

Very, very interesting that the folks at Columbia arrived at this same conclusion all
of those years ago.

I do contend that anyone entering in to this
process of making brown wax for cylinders
can re-learn the whole works by observing
what the reaction does, and by doing their
own experiments.

Chuck
"Sustained success depends on searching
for, and gaining, fundamental understanding"

-Bell System Credo


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:34 pm 
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Victor IV
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A new blank with authentic formula and spiral core!
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Chuck It is starange the the collector community at large kind of does not say much about our research. I think that for those who collect and archive, or just have an interest in brown wax should ask more quetions about them and more engaugement in this discussion. It may be jelousy on the part of people who have tried for 50 years to find secrets of making wax, or to eventually get around to it, to find someone like myself so young who have found out so much information on them. I know of one well known youtuber who grilled me on the phone for several months, and did exactly as I said and then demonize me in his videos as well as you and our friend Paul Morris. Then to have things happen that my business partner in New York pulled, makes me very weary of this hobby, but I forge ahead anyhow. The high temperatures certainly help to make the wax better, they have no precipitate inside the wax, and the wax is more durable, and to me less surface noise. Their should always be a little old batched wax present to hold it all together. I was reading in the cour case where one of the boys at Columbia who was helping make the wax was burned to death from the wax. Would be not too hard to do. I also heat my wax above 500F. I now make 15lbs at a time. By the way Talking Machine people the record next to the Edison blank, on the top photo is one of my new blanks, not anything at all like what I made even 3 years ago. I have now been making double spirals for a year and a half. Also I want to remind folks that Chuck, Paul and myself are freinds, and I have only good things to say about all our efforts. At least we make our own blanks based on our own research each is unique, I have examples of all of our blanks at my disposal. I do not condone cutting down dication machine blanks, or shaving historical brown wax records to make blanks on this is just sad. The spiral core brown wax many are unique recorings, some can be carfully cleaned and some sound obtained, I have cleaned up some pretty hopelss looking brown wax only to find aan audiable recording under the white haze.


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:55 pm 
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Victor Monarch Special
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Who is John Galt?
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Location: New York's Finger Lakes
edisonphonoworks wrote:
Chuck It is starange the the collector community at large kind of does not say much about our research. I think that for those who collect and archive, or just have an interest in brown wax should ask more quetions about them and more engaugement in this discussion. It may be jelousy on the part of people who have tried for 50 years to find secrets of making wax, or to eventually get around to it, to find someone like myself so young who have found out so much information on them. I know of one well known youtuber who grilled me on the phone for several months, and did exactly as I said and then demonize me in his videos as well as you and our friend Paul Morris. Then to have things happen that my business partner in New York pulled, makes me very weary of this hobby, but I forge ahead anyhow. The high temperatures certainly help to make the wax better, they have no precipitate inside the wax, and the wax is more durable, and to me less surface noise. Their should always be a little old batched wax present to hold it all together. I was reading in the cour case where one of the boys at Columbia who was helping make the wax was burned to death from the wax. Would be not too hard to do. I also heat my wax above 500F. I now make 15lbs at a time. By the way Talking Machine people the record next to the Edison blank, on the top photo is one of my new blanks, not anything at all like what I made even 3 years ago. I have now been making double spirals for a year and a half. Also I want to remind folks that Chuck, Paul and myself are freinds, and I have only good things to say about all our efforts. At least we make our own blanks based on our own research each is unique, I have examples of all of our blanks at my disposal. I do not condone cutting down dication machine blanks, or shaving historical brown wax records to make blanks on this is just sad. The spiral core brown wax many are unique recorings, some can be carfully cleaned and some sound obtained, I have cleaned up some pretty hopelss looking brown wax only to find aan audiable recording under the white haze.


Shawn,
I can't speak for anyone else, but I've had an interest in brown wax for many, many years. I believe my writings in the 1990s were the first to credit Adolf Melzer with being the originator of Columbia's wax formula in the mid-1890s and whose formula Thomas Macdonald eventually patented. That being said, it's all history. History is really all I'm interested in when it comes to antique phonographs and records.

Again, I'm speaking only for myself, but I have no interest in learning how to cast iron, formulate pot metal, or develop wax formulas. I certainly have nothing against these things; I encourage anyone with an interest to pursue it. But for me, it's a bit like learning to hook rugs so I can make one with the "His Master's Voice" trademark on it. That's fine for many collectors, but I'm cursed with an addiction to history only - - not its re-creation. Elvis's "Jailhouse Rock" on a cylinder leaves me cold for the same reason. It's anachronistic. 120 year-old wax (or better yet, 125!) gets me excited, but new wax does not. I realize that will seem strange to you and to some others, but we're all wired a bit differently.

This explanation is not meant to defend my perspective, but hopefully to allay a misapprehension on your part that those of us who may not take an active interest in new wax formulations are driven by resentment, envy, or other vices. As George Costanza would say, "It's not you; it's me." :)

I wish you, Chuck, Paul, and others much luck and satisfaction in your endeavors. :)

Sincerely,

George P.


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:56 am 
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Victor II
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:55 am
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Location: North East Ohio U.S.A.
While I agree with George P in principle, I also can say that I totally support your efforts in reproducing wax blanks and recordings. (Although I agree that the anachronism of an Elvis cylinder is not necessary). Speaking only for myself, I am amazed at your technical achievements, but really, although I enjoy reading your technical reports, must admit that they are well above my level of expertise. So I enjoy them only vicariously. I usually read but do not comment only because I have nothing to contribute.

I fully intended to purchase some reproduction blanks from you guys this winter but time got away from me and so must delay until next winter (my summers are occupied with outdoor interests, primarily). I very much appreciate your work and am not in the least envious of your achievements. In awe is more like it. My silence is more out of respect than anything else. Perhaps I speak for others but let them comment themselves.

John


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:08 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.
It is very technical and can be troublesome, maybe crazy, how many hours LOL. I actually derive more enjoyment recording new copies of 1890s brown wax era records, on almost identical blanks. The process is not easy, and dangerous. I originally intended to make blanks for myself. I had brought some examples of cylinders to UNION for opinions, some had experimental recordings and they all departed my hands. This has happened many times. So there is an interest. I also demonstrate the making at fairs and museums.


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:55 pm 
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VTLA
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Shawn, I can only echo most of what George said. There are many different ways to explore history: research, collecting, restoring, and also re-creating. Each of these activities contributes to preserving and better understanding the historic artifacts and their stories. One only has to look at History Channel shows, when historians work together to re-create a medieval trebuchet or to carve and transport the giant stone blocks that were used to build the pyramids or Stonehenge - just using period tools. It is great that everyone is different and has their unique interests, because that way we all learn and accomplish more.

I admire what you guys are doing and read your posts with interests, but I must admit that much of it goes above my head. Therefore I want to assure you that silence is not lack of interest or disapproval, it is simply that I don't have anything to contribute. Exactly the same as if I listened to some mathematicians discussing advanced math, I would keep quiet and hope that nobody asks me a question revealing my ignorance. :oops:

Please do continue your work and also continue your posts. Others may not be able to understand everything, but we may still learn something. :D

Thanks
Andreas


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:50 pm 
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Victor III
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Richards Laboratories http://www.richardslaboratories.com producing high quality cylinder blanks
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Shawn, George P., John, Andreas,

Just thought I'd add a few more comments, based
on your posts so far about this general subject.

I can really understand the perspective of only
wanting to deal with history, and not having any desire to recreate it.

Speaking for myself, the main reason that I
decided to start making brown wax cylinders
goes right back to the very first day that I
saw my first brown wax record. It was in with
about 25 other various beat up, dusty, worn out
old Blue Amberols, wax Amberols, and Gold Moulded records which had been sitting in an open-top box up in my grandfather's woodshop
attic since the fall of 1935.

It was 1967 when that box first saw the light
of day once again, along with the Edison
Standard Model D combination machine which
sat next to it.

After getting the machine over to the house
and oiled up and running a bit, one of my
first questions for my grandfather was: "What's
that one oddball brown record for? Why is
is different from the others?"

He told me about being able to record using
the recorder.

Right then, looking at that one old cracked and broken, beat up old brown wax
record, I knew right then that I wanted
to eventually have more of them so that
I could make my own recordings and play them.

I was 11 years old when I realized this.

What I wanted then, and still want, is an
endless supply of decent brown wax blanks to
use to do recording experiments. I never want
to have to worry about not having enough
blanks available in order to test a recorder
or whatever might need to be done.

This is mainly why I make my own blanks.
With those, I never have to worry about
defacing a genuine old brown wax record.
Leave the genuine historical artifacts completely intact for future generations
to appreciate. Meanwhile, for making new
recordings and doing tests of all kinds, as
many new blanks as are ever needed can be made.

In the process of doing that, there has piled
up an excess inventory of these blanks.
They are offered for sale so that others may
use them and enjoy them.

It turned out that making my own not
only supplies my needs, but also builds up
way more of them than I will ever be able
to use myself.

So, from a strictly historical standpoint,
I am protecting the genuine artifacts by
not defacing them.

Just a few thoughts I wanted to add to what
everyone else has said already.

Chuck
"Sustained success depends on searching
for, and gaining, fundamental understanding"

-Bell System Credo


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 Post subject: Re: How to tell Edison Columbia brown waxes Apart.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:56 am 
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Victor IV
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A new blank with authentic formula and spiral core!
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Location: 615 1/2 South Main Street Princeton IL 61356.
Thanks Chuck that is it exactly. I guess to put this all into perspective, the impact to the collector community, of making new brown wax blanks and records. If I had not found out how to make the blanks, then perhaps over 10,000 original brown wax cylinders would have been destroyed, from 1889-1896 there were a little over 2 million brown wax commercial recordings made, probably 5 million total would be a good guess of what was produced until the advent of molded records. Many hobbyist have such high standards of what is an acceptable cylinder recording, they would deface a record of Edison himself if the cylinder was moldy, and only had a few words. Here is my question to the collector community, at what point is it Ok TO shave an original musical. or home recording ? You can shave Brown wax and Columbia moulded records (brown wax dyed with lampblack) to make excellent recording blanks, but at what cost to history? And then there are those who shave original Home recordings, (What a travesty they are a very special link to the thoughts of the people of the times, a goldmine of anthropological studies, of dialect, politics, and humor of the 19th and early 20th century.) (Although those who support the modern trend in politics, would rather see the 18th and 19th century Amereican history eradicated from the world.) I still use cylinders to preserve voice for long time, I helped create the Conservatory of dying languages and like Fewks, Densmore and others the cylinder is a valuable tool, even today!


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