Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at some of music players from yesteryear...
I wonder how many young people (permanently plugged into their headphones) would cope with the original mass produced recorded music player, the iconic (but admittedly less portable) gramophone?
Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the first music recording and playing device in 1877, the phonograph, which recorded sounds on round cylinders. However, the quality of the production was extremely poor, and each recording could only be played once.
Improving on Edison's design, Alexander Graham Bell invented the graphophone, which worked by using wax cylinders. Originally costing a shilling, these cylinders now fetch up to £200.
In 1887 Emile Berliner patented the first successful sound recorder, the gramophone. This used more resilient flat records made of glass. Until 1892, however, there was still no way of making copies of discs. If an artist wanted to record 100 discs, they had to sing 100 times!
Gramophones, phonographs and accompanying accessories are today collected enthusiastically. Most will pay a premium for a vintage machine in working order; although some collectors enjoy the pleasures of repairing broken gramophones.
Gramophones are also beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing pieces of equipment. Plus, with the resurgence in popularity of records showing no sign of abating, where else are you going to play your old 78s!
One option to avoid constant winding is the increasing range of attractive reproduction gramophones. This Art Deco style model combines attractive design with modern reliability. It plays records and CDs, and is available in the centre.
Early gramophones, set into fridge-sized wooden cupboards or tables with fold-out speaker trumpets, really are pieces of furniture in their own right. Vintage working models in good condition fetch hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.
More common are the first transportable gramophones, of which the HMV ‘102’ series was incredibly popular and produced in high numbers from the 1920s to the 1940s. Good examples can be found from £120 upwards.
Standalone or housed in a carry case, they appear very weighty and cumbersome to us, but were once the latest in modern ‘portability’. How times have changed!