1906-07 Lewis Phono-Metro-Phone With Record Box, Listening Tube, Consonator, Treatise


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Founded in Detroit at the turn of the last century, Geo. Andrew Lewis’s correspondence school “For Stammerers and Stutterers” offered a quack cure for stuttering in the form of a proprietary speech therapy called Phono-Metrics.  Central to this therapy, albeit briefly, was the Phono-Metro-Phone, a Lewis-branded version of the Columbia Q Graphophone (mounted on a deluxe, bevel-edged wood base) that was sold with a set of 18 Geo. Andrew Lewis cylinders. Covering every letter of the alphabet, the cylinders guided students through a series of oral exercises designed to defeat their speech impediment, such as enunciating words while swinging their arms in a figure-8 pattern.

There were several problems with the Phono-Metro-Phone, the most significant of which was that — though a decent enough little phonograph — it didn’t work as a cure for stammering.  Eventually, Lewis abandoned his sale and promotion of the apparatus (many of them had already been returned with demands for a refund) and was back to conducting classes, seminars and summer camps for stutterers, as well as publishing books and pamphlets in which he touted himself as the “world’s greatest speech specialist.”

Condition of this Phono-Metro-Phone is excellent (the bedplate’s enamel and decorations are original and nearly perfect), and it includes its original listening tube (the rubber is dry and brittle but the gutta percha earpiece is intact and complete), its original base (glossy original shellac finish), a clean Lewis cylinder canister that’s perhaps even scarcer than the machine (which according to the late Columbia phonograph researcher/historian/author Howard Hazelcorn is among the most uncommon Graphophones ever produced), a clean original copy of Lewis’s The Origin & Treatment of Stammering, and a Lewis Phono-Consonator, an accessory for the Graphophone that resembles a miniature automotive muffler but is not nearly as useful. It should be noted that there are mixed opinions as to whether or not the Phono-Consonator was actually sold with the Phono-Metro-Phone, but Hazelcorn’s book pictures a Phono-Metro-Phone with a Phono-Consonator mounted on its carriage, so if the latter was not in fact sold with the former, at a certain point in time some collectors and historians decided that it should have been.

The original and impossibly scarce Lewis record canister is as crisp as you could want (practically mint), and the thought of Mr. Lewis’s glowering visage staring out at a correspondence school “patient” from the side of the canister — exasperated with the dutiful student swinging his or her arms wildly in an attempt to make the treatment work — is downright haunting.


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