Berliner Disc Records
1889-1900

Spin the black circle. That tradition goes back over a hundred years, even from the time that Pearl Jam recorded that song. Thomas Edison's cylindrical tinfoil phonograph was the first to speak to the world in 1877. However, Edison also gave passing thoughts to disc recordings in those early patents before moving on to lighting up the world in 1879. Others took up the cause in the 1880's like Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter in their Volta Laboratory. Emile Berliner was another, and he was the first to bring discs to the commercial market in 1889 in Germany. These were five inches in diameter and ran hardly more than a minute. They were a toy, a curiosity at most. In 1892, their manufacture came to an end and Berliner turned his attention to the American market. In 1894, his United States Gramophone Company offered a seven-inch disc with a little over two minutes recording time, similar to wax cylinders that Edison Records and the Columbia company were offering in that decade. The entertainment was much better too. This incarnation lasted for six years and sold just under two million records. Frank Seaman, the company's sales agent, soon manufactured his own products, causing Berliner to cease honoring their contract together. Seaman used this and joined in the patent war occuring in the whole industry to shut Berliner down in 1900. Berliner moved his operations to Canada for a new start there but Eldridge R. Johnson, the man contracted to manufacture his phonographs, established a company of his own in the States in 1901. It was the Victor Talking Machine Company; you might recognize their logo, you know, Nipper looking into the horn? But that was a new century. Have a listen now to the old. Let me correct that. No, not the 20th Century since this is the 21st. Listen to the final calls of the 19th Century, no later than 116 years ago.

Encoded Speed: 192 Kbps

Rabbit Hash
Billy Golden
Berliner 635W
Take 2 (of 4)
October 24, 1895
Recording Location Unknown (New York, Philadelphia, or Washington D. C.)
Note: Standard 78RPM Stylus Version
Here's a version played with a more basic stylus. The voice is a bit louder and more natural. Golden's laughs however can get quite loud and distorted, especially on such early records. This stylus gets pinched in the groove at those passages moreso than with the elliptical stylus used above.

Standard 78RPM Stylus Version 2
Here's a similar stylus with a bit more surface noise but less distortion at the laughs.

4.0 Elliptical Stylus Non-Filtered Version
This one uses a slightly wider stylus than the image-linked version. It picks up more surface noise too which then makes it sound very distorted when filtered. So, here it is non-filtered and non-EQed.

Morning on the Farm (w/ Cat and Dog Fight)
N. R. Wood
Berliner 401X
Take 2 (of 2 that day), 7 total
February 15, 1896
Washington D. C.
Announcements: "Mr. N. R. Wood of Washington, D. C. will now give you the Morning on the Farm."; "I now give you the cat and the dog fight."; "Goodnight."

Quote from a 1897 National Gramophone Company Record Catalog: "A realistic farm yard scene illustrating all the different sounds attending the early morning rising of the farm inhabitants. This reproduction clearly and accurately brings out the bleating of the sheep, the lowing of the cattle, the crowing of the cock, the cackle of the hens, squeal of the guinea hen and gobble of the turkey, all being answered and accompanied by the cries of the neighboring hawk, crow and various other birds. So real is the arrangement and so exact the imitation that it requires but a slight stretch of the imagination to place one's self in that delightful position, the result of which is the drinking in of copious drafts of fresh air and numerous other pleasures attainable only on the farm."

Colored Preacher
George Graham
Berliner 620Z
Take 2 (of 3)
May 15, 1896
Recording Location Unknown (New York, Philadelphia, or Washington D. C.)
Note: It's not your sound system. The record really does sound like this.
Note the speed problem the engineer had at 0:44.
It may also sound better (if you can call it that) without the final EQ: No-Equalization Version

Talk on Money
George Graham
Berliner 645Y
Take 3 (of 3)
September 24, 1896
Recording Location Unknown (New York, Philadelphia, or Washington D. C.)
TRANSCRIPT


"Talk on Money" by George Graham.

Fellow Citizens, we have congregated here this evening to find out what we know.
Now there is one thing I am glad of, that in this country every man is entitled to his say.
And the women will have their say whether they are entitled to it or not.

Now I wish to say something about money.
Simply in the theoretical sense or in a practical way the subject is entirely foreign to me.
Where is all the money going to, who's got it?
I'm sure I haven't got it and I know that women can't get ahold of all of it.
They can get away with four-thirds of it and we get what's left.
Some say one party get it, some say another.

Now what is money?
Ahhh, my friends if a man saves money, he is a miser.
And if he spends it, he is a spendthrift.
And if he loans it, he is a fool.
Now what are you going to do about it?
Money is the cause of all the misery in this world and yet every man you meet is ready and willing to borrow misery.

Now the financial situation of this country at the present time is something frightful.
We don't know whether we will have the gold standard or the silver standard.
We don't know whether a dollar will be worth fifty cents, seventy cents or sixty cents tomorrow or not.
The way that I get rid of that difficulty is every dollar I get ahold of I spend, I take no chances.
The government can bust tomorrow and it don't owe me a cent.
Now the Democratic Party said the Republican Party are all thieves.
And the Republican Party said the Democratic Party are all thieves.
Well they know each other, there is no sense in argument there.

Now if you want to end this contention and strife make me President of these United States and I will do it cheaper than the man that's in there.
And if I was President with one hand I would grasp the American Flag, the immortal Stars and Stripes, and in the other hand I'd have (a) three pounds of Limburger Cheese.
I would climb to the highest mountain, there standing upon the highest pinnacle of success I would shout:
"Downtrodden (one word?) people(s?), your hour of deliverance has come. (Light ham?), liver and onions (???) to five cents per pound."

Jane
George J. Gaskin
Berliner 1615
Take 1 (of 1)
November 16, 1896
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Note: The recording starts on the very first thread and ends on the last. Therefore, a few seconds on each side were left so it wouldn't sound so abrupt. Also extremely worn.

Die Nachtigall
Vroni Eidner
Berliner 388
Take 1?
June 24, 1897
New York, New York
Note: Quote in the September 1897 issue of the National Gramophone Company's Record Catalog: "The reproduction of this record gives a high C clear and full, with no blast or rattle. Have you ever heard this note in a soprano record?"

Something said in-studio before song starts?

Softer/Weaker but More Natural Version

Viva il Vino (Cavalleria Rusticanna)
Sig. Ferruccio A. Giannini
Berliner 932X
Take 3 (of 4)
May 31, 1898
New York, New York
Note: Something said in-studio after the song?

A Hot Time Medley March
Sousa's Band
Berliner 139[a]
Take ?
September 2, 1898
New York, New York
Note: No-Equalization Version
Large bands were harder to record in this early period. This one may sound better.

Lincoln's Speech at Gettysburg
Mr. William F. Hooley
Berliner 6012
Take ?
September 21, 1898
New York, New York
Note: No-Equalization Version
This one may sound better.

3.5 Elliptical Stylus Version
The highs may be less distorted here but at the expense of overall brilliance.

3.5 Elliptical Stylus No-Equalization Version
Even softer.

Kathleen Mavourneen
John Terrell
Berliner 962Z
Take 2 (of 2)
Before April 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY, PA, or DC)
Note: The first several grooves are extremely worn out. The rest is not far behind.

"7th sui. dupl."(?) to right of spindle hole

Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill
Mr. George J. Gaskin
Berliner 064 (A-11-I)
Take Unknown
April 5, 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)
Note: Speed problems on master, especially at start. Listen to a (somewhat) corrected introduction here.

My Wild Irish Rose
Mr. Albert C. Campbell
Berliner 0139 (I) (E-17-)
Take Unknown
March 22, 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)
Note: Worn with several skips corrected.

Turkey in De Straw
Billy Golden
Berliner 0541 (V) (R/11)
Take Unknown
September 27, 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)

At Sunrise
Arthur Pryor's Orchestra
Berliner 0700 (B) (P 10/10)
Take 2
November 4, 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)
Note: One of five selections recorded by the Pryor Orchestra that day in its very first studio session. The first half of this disc is more worn than the second. Here's an overall softer version that may prove more pleasant but at the expense of some highs. Speed problem on master 0:27-0:28. After the song ends, there's also something spoken that has yet to be deciphered.

Continuous Performances From 'The Ameer'
S. H. Dudley
Berliner 0747
Take 1 (of 1)
November 18, 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY, PA, or DC)
Note the correction in spelling of the song title.

Lo, The Day Of Rest Declineth
The Original Lyric Trio
William F. Hooley, Mgr.
Berliner 0770
Take Unknown
November 29, 1899
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)

Many Years Ago
Harry Macdonough
Berliner 01037 (I)
Take Unknown
February 28, 1900
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)

Minstrel 1st Part, No. 4
The Gramophone Minstrels
S. H. Dudley & William F. Hooley
Berliner 01137 (V)
Take Unknown
March 28, 1900
Recording Location Unknown (NY or PA)
Note: Top of label erased: A Berliner pirated by Zonophone.

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