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Featured Phonograph № 47
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Author:  tinker [ Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:15 am ]
Post subject:  Featured Phonograph № 47

Make: Columbia - Bell Tainter
Model: Perfected K
Serial # 20207
Year(s) Made: 1895-1896/7
Original Cost: $85.00
Case/Cabinet Size: Approximately 15" by 9 ½"
Turntable/Mandrel: Cast aluminum removable Mandrel
Reproducer/Sound-Box: Long neck Gutta Percha
Motor: Single spring - All cast iron
Horn Dimensions: Listening tubes
Reproduction Parts: None
Current Value: ????
Intersting Facts: This machine (as with the Perfected F and most of the other electric version Bell Tainter machines) used recycled Treadle machine upper A-Frame chassis works converted to play Edison type cylinders

Favorite Characteristics: If you remember last April, a Bell Tainter Perfected K came on EBAY. There was quite a bit of discussion on the machine on this board. Well, this is that machine. I was finally able to complete the conservation on it so, I felt I owed sharing this machine with the Forum.

This is a very early production model of the Columbia Perfected K spring motor machine. There are several key characteristics that make this an early production model machine. First, there is the Perfected decal. Later versions have the standard Graphophone decal. Second is the motor, it is all cast iron. The frame, and every single gear and the spring barrel is made of cast iron. Later versions had some, or all brass gears and a cast brass spring barrel. Third is the on off switch, which is a round knob with "switch" on it. Later versions were a lever like you normally see on a Columbia "N". Finally, the bedplate is nickeled brass. Later versions were nickeled steel.

In the line of spring motor production model Bell Tainter machines from Columbia, the Perfected K is not the first. The Perfected F, and the Perfected G actually preceded this machine, both being produced starting in 1894.

A little back story from the purchase event. The individual from whom I purchased this is a picker and he bought it from a lady who found it at Good Will in the 1970's. She told him that she bought it unworking for $25 brought it home, and sat it on her dining room floor. There it sat, untouched for almost 40 years until 2009. He said he had to believe her because there was a thick coating of dust on the floor except under where the phonograph previously sat. It was fortunate timing as I was able to fly in to the New Jersey Phonograph show, drive up and meet the seller at a MacDonald's of all places. He was awesome to work with and the experience was wonderful. The machine flew back on the plane with me.

What I like best about the machine is that it is untouched. Both the lady who found it at Good Will and the picker did nothing to "restore" the machine. It is as it left the factory, save for the years it as experienced. It was also fortunate that there was some gear damage in the motor, making it unplayable. That probably saved it from years of untold "reuse" and abuse. The gear damage is now repaired, thanks to the wonderful skill of a good friend and machinist, and the machine performs perfectly!

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Author:  phonogfp [ Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

That's a beauty. It's so infrequent to have a Bell-Tainter derived machine come out of the wild, and this one is just the way we like to find them! Very nice job conserving it, too.

And this was in a Goodwill store for $25? :shock:

Thanks for sharing this!

George P.

Author:  Starkton [ Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

There is even a shaver attached. Very nice business graphophone.

As could be expected harmful substances from the oaken motor case degradated the lead weights.

Author:  MTPhono [ Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47


Thanks for posting about this incredible find. It's a wonderful machine in great, original condition. You can't ask for a much better early phonograph than this.

Author:  Valecnik [ Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47


Great find. That machine is such good condition is a great addition to any collection. Wish I could have it on my living room floor, (well better off the floor) for another 40 years! Congrats and thanks for posting.

Author:  schweg [ Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

That is one nice Columbia- and the story that goes with it is really cool. An inspiration for all of us to keep looking, because you never know what might still be out there.


Author:  JohnM [ Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

Beautiful machine! In image #024 (the patents sticker), who is "White" listed as holding a patent issued Jun 10, 1890 and what is that patent for?

Author:  phonogfp [ Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

John H. White received several patents in the late 1880s and early 1890s for improvements in Graphophone designs. The final design of treadle Graphophones (the Type C) was primarily the work of John H. White, and some of his patent dates (including June 10, 1890) continued to be listed on Graphophone decals for decades. White's patents made the earliest Graphophone more practical, and allowed the Graphophone/Columbia to hang on through the early 1890s until Thomas Macdonald brought his inventive genius to the firm.

The June 10, 1890 date is for U.S. Patent No. 429,827, and was filed on April 9, 1889. This related to improvements in the movable carriage, the design of the recording stylus, limiting motion of the diaphragm and depth of cut, the attachment of the cutting stylus to the diaphragm, and "the formation of a sound-recording tube in such a manner that one end is removable freely with the diaphragm, while the remaining portion is fixed to the machine." Kind of neat, but the fixed recording tube was never used to my knowledge.

George P.

Author:  JohnM [ Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

Thanks George! Is any more known about John White? I wonder what happened to him after Thomas Macdonald 'got the corner office'. Does White surface again in the talking machine industry?

I'm writing this while camped in the Florida Everglades so I don't have access to my 'Patent History of the Phonograph' or the rest of my library or otherwise I'd be looking it up in my Funk & Wagnalls (or is that Paul & Fabrizio?)

Author:  phonogfp [ Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Featured Phonograph № 47

:lol: You won't find very much on John H. White in our books! There's nothing on him in Marco's Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, and the last U.S. Patent I can find granted to him is No.504,380, filed November 23, 1891. I haven't tried a Google search, but I must get over to the bike shop now. Unless you beat me to it, I'll try it tonight.

Seems as if I've read a footnote on him somewhere - - the title "patent attorney" sticks in my head, but don't bet the ranch on it... I can check my indexes tonight too.

George P.

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