Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor Case

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TinfoilPhono
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Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor Case

Post by TinfoilPhono »

I'm not sure I have ever posted a Featured Phonograph but I thought this one might be fun. Certainly not a fabulous rarity, though as a presumed one-of-a-kind I suppose it is rare, if not terribly valuable. I've owned it for about 25 years so it's time to pull it off the shelf and dust it off:

Make: Columbia
Model: Type B "Eagle"
Year(s) Made: 1897-1898 for this uncased style
Original Cost: $10
Case/Cabinet Size: 11 x 7.25 x 5.5
Turntable/Mandrel: conventional 2-minute
Reproducer/Sound-Box: Eagle
Motor: two spring, open works
Horn Dimensions: listening tubes
Reproduction Parts: tubes
Current Value: ?
Interesting Facts: homemade carrying case

This is a one-of-a kind example of a cheap Graphophone in a homemade case made for use in public exhibitions. Although the lowly "Eagle" Graphophone was a much cheaper and more basic machine than those normally used for exhibitions, at least one company promoted them for the purpose: Sears Roebuck & Co. In the late 1890s the Sears catalog pushed the Eagle "at a price which brings them into the easy reach of those of small means, who wish to give public exhibitions... You can make $5 to $25 every evening by giving public exhibitions... by using hearing tubes and charging 5 cents for each individual."

The Type B "Eagle" was sold starting in September 1897 at $10 uncased or $12 with the rounded lid as typically found. This is an example of the uncased style, with the serial number stamped onto the belt cover. The machine is mounted to a simple board with drilled corners and fitted inside a very crude homemade case made of rough pine. Curiously, the exterior was carefully painted to simulate expensive burled wood, as can be seen in the closeup photo below. The Graphophone is securely nestled inside, with holes in the base fitting over metal posts inside the case. An extra-long winding key and speed control extend through the left side, making it very convenient to carry about and operate. The holes on the side for the key and control are filed to a vertical oval shape. This allows the right end of the machine to be lifted up to remove and replace a cylinder, without having to take the machine out of the carrying case. The construction is crude, yet thought out.

It was likely used by a small-town exhibitor to cadge nickels from customers in saloons and general stores. Curiously, the box has a Sears mailing label glued on the top. I suspect that the original owner fabricated the carrying case using wood from the original shipping crate in which Sears packed the Graphophone. Why the maker didn't remove the label before painting it with faux grain will forever be a mystery. But it was deliberate: he varnished it for protection. Perhaps it was to imply to viewers that it was a professional machine from a respected source, rather than a cheap, homemade unit?
Attachments
exeagle1.jpg
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exeagle4.jpg
exeagle5.jpg
exeagle6.jpg
exeagle7.jpg
exeagle8.jpg

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alang
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by alang »

Thank you very much for presenting such an interesting machine. It would be great to know how long this was used for presentations and if the owner was able to make at least some money from it. The home made case is a rare glimpse into a time long gone when enterprising dreams were born with the availability of these new Talking Machines.

Thanks again
Andreas

Dave D
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by Dave D »

Thanks for sharing this unusual piece!
Dave D

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Django
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by Django »

Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

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Fonotone
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by Fonotone »

I like it, René. A lot. Very neat phonograph.

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schweg
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by schweg »

Neat early example of recycling by the original owner. Keeping the shipping label on the box is the icing on the cake. Thanks for posting this one of a kind example.

Jerry B.
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by Jerry B. »

Thanks for sharing. That Eagle is such a treasure.

Jerry B.

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fran604g
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by fran604g »

It amazes me to see something like this little B, that could be considered diminutive and relatively insignificant in the bigger picture, be elevated to the stature it surely enjoyed.

Thanks Rene, items like this helps give us a real glimpse into the past, and allows us to imagine a world long past, and almost feel history.

Best,
Fran
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Raphael
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Re: Featured Phonograph No.148: Columbia Eagle in Exhibitor

Post by Raphael »

TinfoilPhono wrote:... You can make $5 to $25 every evening by giving public exhibitions... by using hearing tubes and charging 5 cents for each individual."


I love it. Assuming a full 2-minute cylinder is used, and allowing 30 seconds to rewind and collect another nickel, it would take about 21 hours to make $25. Would make for a long evening, indeed!

Raphael

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