1897 Edison “Skeletal” Home Phonograph


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Among the earliest Edison Home phonographs were those manufactured with upper castings that were open beneath the feedscrew. These “Skeletal” Homes, as they’re known colloquially, numbered only in the hundreds and today are the scarcest and most sought after of all Home Phonographs.

This particular example, like many Homes with 2 or 3 digit serial numbers, has a lift lever rest that’s cast into the topworks, a half-nut that’s weighted rather than sprung, a cabinet decal with broad cross-hatching that sits almost an inch higher on the lid than later decals (Edison moved the decal down because the handle was knocking out the ascending legs on the letter “N” in his name), a Standard Speaker combination reproducer and recorder (it has two styli — one for playback, the other for recording), and a quick-release “Emerson” style retaining clip for the Standard Speaker.

The phonograph is in very good condition throughout, with no reproduction parts, an original cabinet finish, a vivid original decal that exhibits minimal scarring (and the typical ding in the letter “N”), clean original enamel on the casting, and original pin-striping that’s still prominent. There are scattered minor marks in the cabinet, but nothing significant or distracting.

The phonograph’s spring tension winding pawl gives it a satisfying clockwork click as the machine is wound, and it runs well, playing for several minutes when fully wound. The Standard Speaker has good recording and playback styli, a good French glass diaphragm, and it sounds good when playing early brown wax cylinders for which it was designed.  The leather drive belt is original, but it’s in good shape and does not appear to be on the verge of breaking. Nonetheless, a spare belt will be included, along with a period speaking tube and two brown wax cylinders.

Shipping considerations require that buyers outside the USA contact us prior to purchase.


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