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Featured Phonograph № 46
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Author:  phonogfp [ Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Featured Phonograph № 46

Make: Star
Model: Unknown
Serial # None
Year(s) Made: 1909
Original Cost: Unknown
Cabinet Size: Mahogany; 14.5" x 14.5" x 7 ¾" tall
Turntable:10 ¾" diameter
Sound-Box: Star with interchangeable diaphragm
Motor: 2-spring
Horn Dimensions: Grain-painted metal; 28" long x 23" wide
Reproduction Parts: None
Current Value: Unknown
Interesting Facts: An uncatalogued model of Star Talking Machine manufactured by the Hawthorne & Sheble Manufacturing Company, 1907-1909. Probably one of the company's last products, and the only known example of this model.

Favorite Characteristics: The machine is substantial and heavily built. Bizarre motor with the mainsprings separated on each side of the governor, and the casting painted a light metallic blue. Does not display the typical star-shaped data plate on the front of the cabinet, but features a nickeled plate defiantly showing the H&S patents that Victor was assailing in court. This same plate is seen on the company's Starola (introduced December 1908). Hawthorne & Sheble went out of business in July 1909. This Star carries the features found on the line's best instruments, including a detachable tone arm, interchangeable diaphragms for tone modification, a combination sound box support and used needle receptacle, a "Tone Modifier" hidden within the tone arm, and a spring and gravity-driven "Yielding Pressure Feed." This device exerted inward pressure on the tone arm, and the company claimed the record groove was thus used as a restraining medium rather than propelling the needle: a clever but unsuccessful attempt to avoid Victor's formidable U.S. Patent No.534,543. The hidden "Tone Modifier" inside the tone arm was a tapered cone which, when slid into proper position, transformed it into a tapered tone arm; another mightily defended Victor patent. Despite these ingenious tricks and first-class workmanship, the Star Talking Machines did not sell well. This example bears no serial number, suggesting that Hawthorne & Sheble was aware of its impending doom, and was rapidly liquidating its inventory with no possible accounting of damages due to Victor. It was as though Hawthorne & Sheble were fighting it out at the Little Big Horn, while Victor sued them (sorry!)into oblivion, and this unique talking machine was one of the last shots fired.

See the sidebar below (from the December 2006 issue of The Sound Box) for more information on the Star tone arm.

The record cabinet is a Herzog Model 833, and is also the only known example of this model. It is contemporary to the 1909 Star, so I thought they would make a good combination.

File comment: 1909 Star Talking Machine on a Herzog No.833 Record Cabinet
star&cabclosed.jpg [ 1.33 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
File comment: Record cabinet open, showing album boxes.
star&cabopen.jpg [ 1.26 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
File comment: Rear view. Note that all four sides of the cabinet are curved. Also note the brightly colored Mobley diaphragm. Also note the cast metal Star elbow. Many of these elbows have swollen over the years to the point where they are no longer functional.
star&cabrear.jpg [ 1.45 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
File comment: Looking down on the turntable. Note the knob on top of the tone arm which moves the hidden "Tone Modifier" back and forth. By moving it forward, the machine instantly violated a Victor patent!
starmachinedown.jpg [ 1.28 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
File comment: A closeup of the Star. The cabinet is somewhat similar to a Victor "IV". The horn is grain-painted heavy gauge metal.
starmachinefront.jpg [ 1.34 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
File comment: Very heavy, powerful, and quiet. This motor puts a Victor to shame, but apparently boosted the price of Star machines too high to remain competitive.
starmotor.jpg [ 1.33 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
File comment: A long list of Hawthorne & Sheble patent dates (a few of them inaccurate!) which ultimately failed to protect the enterprise.
starplate.jpg [ 1.17 MiB | Viewed 4402 times ]
startonearm001.jpg [ 360.77 KiB | Viewed 4402 times ]

Author:  Aaron [ Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Wonderfull! I have been awaiting the day you posted a Featured Phono, George! You always have something great, and i like playig "I Spy" in your pictures ;) :lol: :roll: Great machine George!


Author:  Edisonfan [ Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

WOW! :o That is a really amazing machine you have there, George.


Author:  SonnyPhono [ Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Wow George! What a nice looking phonograph. Very unique and for being the only one known to exist it is in amazing shape.

I will say, though, that I enjoyed looking at all the goodies in the background as much as seeing the featured phonograph itself. What a wonderful setup. I especially liked the Class M that appeared in one of the photos! :D

Thanks for sharing!

Author:  phonogfp [ Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Thanks for your kind comments, gents. But didn't anyone pick up on that crack about the Little Big HORN and Victor SIOUX-ing the company...? Man, tough room...! :roll:

The Star required restoration. When I got it, the horn had been painted a garish red, and the cabinet had been refinished in the "the-glossier-the-better" style. Researching Star catalogues showed that the large 28" horns were supplied with the more expensive machines, and always grain-painted to match the cabinets. I managed to convince a retired grain-painting artist to come out of retirement for a week to do the horn, and I fixed up the cabinet myself (the easy part).

The record cabinet was another story. I was fortunate enough to stumble across it in a local general antique shop, but it was a mess. Luckily, the veneer on the sides and top was fine, but I had to completely disassemble the cabinet to re-veneer the top surface of the base; where the sides meet the base. I cleaned and re-amalgamated the original finish, then applied a coat of new finish to protect it and match the restored muted sheen of the Star cabinet.

I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Now stop snooping around the rest of the belfry! :lol:

George P.

Author:  Jerry B. [ Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Spectacular! Wonderful photographs too. Thanks for sharing such a unique piece. Jerry Blais

Author:  Lenoirstreetguy [ Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Fascinating! I've never seen one of these beasties before, but the Victor legal department must have been whipped into a frenzy at the mere thought of it. I love the legal sophistry: that the groove was a restraining device rather than a propellant. It was a good try, and with the often bizarre rulings of the patent courts it was worth taking chance on the part of H&S. Remember how Edison got done in during the celluloid cylinder fight with Lambert? The judge decided that the experimental production of matrices in the Edison labs represented " public use" and thereby invalidated the patent!


Author:  Valecnik [ Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Aaron wrote:
Wonderfull! I have been awaiting the day you posted a Featured Phono, George! You always have something great, and i like playig "I Spy" in your pictures ;) :lol: :roll: Great machine George!



I also like looking around George's phono room. Whenever he posts a picture of something there are always a few other interesting things in the background too.


A really great combination there. I wonder how hours the engineers and patent attorneys worked to come up with that tonearm design???


If you are watching, didn't I sell you a similar macine, sans elbow, several years back? If you still have it, it would be nice to compare with George's pics.

Author:  phonogfp [ Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46


I agree with you - I really enjoy seeing the ingenuity they exerted to avoid patent violation - or at least the appearance of it! That's one thing I like about Edison Disc Phonographs too.

George P.

Author:  phonocookie [ Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 46

Hi that is a very nice machine. The motors in then were something else. Like Bruce said he did sell me a H&S Star Model 50. Tone arm is the same. Love the way you have your machines displayed. Open easy to look at. At one time mine was that way but know it is a nightmare. To many machines and to little room. I very much like the cabinet your H&S machine is on. Thank you for the pictures.

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