Little Wonder Records
1914-1923


By the mid 1910s, ten-inch and twelve-inch disc records had already been a decade-long standard and would remain so until the 1950s. Victor and Columbia discontinued seven-inch records, the original standard from Berliner in the 1890s, in 1907. In Germany during the 1889-90 period, Berliner even manufactured five-inch discs. Several new companies entered the market in the late 1910s, most taking advantage of the patents held by the Big Three that were beginning to expire. Some revived the seven-incher and manufactured other smaller-sized discs. However, small discs were first re-introduced to the market in 1914 by Little Wonder Records, a product of Columbia's recording department general manager Victor Emerson and Henry Waterson of Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. Yet despite the name and later label depiction, they were not children's records.

Victor Emerson provided the idea of a five-and-a-half inch record and Columbia's studios, artists and pressing plant. Columbia's patronage also allowed the use of the lateral cut, which was still off-limits to independent companies until 1919. Henry Waterson secured the copyright clearances from music publishers well below the standard rate so these cheap 10 discs could be profitable. A healthy amount of public-domain material was also used to help this along. The discs were one-sided, played at the usual 80 RPM and clocked-in at about one minute, fifty seconds at the most. Despite the slower linear speed of the stylus through the groove, especially towards the center, volume and sound quality were quite good.

The labels were tiny, plain and, during the first few years, embossed. The only specific information was the song title and Little Wonder catalog number. The artist(s) were always anonymous but included many of the famous phonograph stars like Henry Burr as well as other Columbia artists, even Al Jolson for one disc. Session documentation hasn't survived but many artists have been identified through careful listening by Tim Brooks and other expert collectors. Song composers were never listed. A&R covered all kinds of music from jazz and dance to popular, sentimental, patriotic, marches and even abbreviated opera. Years quoted below are for that record's release, not studio session, and come from studying vintage sales catalogs.

Little Wonders sold very well in the millions and were especially popular through the Sears & Roebuck catalog and in dime stores. As a matter of fact, Little Wonder lasted until 1923, longer than all the other miniature record companies that appeared during this period. Victor Emerson, a veteran of Columbia since the 1890s, left in 1915 to form his own company, Emerson Records, using the same idea of small records. Six, seven and nine-inchers were subsequently offered until Emerson resorted to ten-inch discs in 1919. Yet, Little Wonders remained the same size the entire time. The end of the post-WWI depression and the rise of the Roaring '20s and Jazz Age were the likely culprits in its demise.

Merle Sprinzen has a wonderful website with much more information about Little Wonders here:
Little Wonder Records and Bubble Books


Encoded Speed: 192 Kbps


I Wish I Was In Michigan (Blank)
Banjo Orchestra
Little Wonder No. 25
Matrix# 186
1914
Note: Big needle dig 1:29-1:39.

It's A Long, Long Way To Tipperary (Blank)
Band and Vocal Chorus
Little Wonder No. 56
Matrix# 221
1914

When It's Night Time Down in Burgundy (Blank)
Tenor Duet
Little Wonder No. 76
Matrix# 44
1915

Poor Pauline (Blank)
Baritone Solo
Little Wonder No. 90
Matrix# 90-1 311
1915

Medley of American Airs No. 1 (Blank)
Band
Little Wonder No. 184
Matrix# 115 (?)
1915

High Stepper (Blank)
Band
Little Wonder No. 192
Matrix# 192-1
1915

The Battle (Blank)
March Band
Little Wonder No. 240
Matrix# 240-1
1916

America I Love You (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 245
Matrix# 245-1
1916

We're Going to Celebrate the End of War in Ragtime (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 247
Matrix# 247-1 10
1916

When You Were A Baby and I Was The Kid Next Door (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 249
Matrix# 249-1 59
1916

When You're Down in Louisville (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 257
Matrix# 257-1
1916
Note: Worn, especially at start.

Old Black Joe (Blank)
Vocal Trio
Little Wonder No. 261
Matrix# 261-1
1916
Note: Dimple at start.

America (Blank)
Vocal Trio
Little Wonder No. 265
Matrix# 265-1
1916

Jesus, Lover of My Soul (Blank)
Tenor Duet
Little Wonder No. 273
Matrix# 273-1 54
1916

The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 277
Matrix# 277-1
1916

I Was Never Nearer Heaven In My Life (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 288
Matrix# 288-1 97
1916
Note: Worn.

Just To Hear Your Voice Again (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 291
Matrix# 291-1 44
1916
Note: Worn.

Charge of the Light Brigade (Blank)
Band
Little Wonder No. 297
Matrix# 297-1
1916

The Flower Garden Ball (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 306
Matrix# 306-1 12
1916

Paul Revere's Ride - Descriptive March Galop (Blank)
Band
Little Wonder No. 327
Matrix# 327-2 18
1916

Steamboat Medley (Blank)
Male Quartette
Little Wonder No. 337
Matrix# 337-1
1916

Arrah! Go On, I'm Gonna Go Back To Oregon (Blank)
Tenor Duet
Little Wonder No. 356
Matrix# 356-1
1916

When the Sun Goes Down in Romany (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 406
Matrix# 406-1 64
1916
Note: Worn.

Kilima Waltz (Blank)
Guitar Duet
Little Wonder No. 458
Matrix# 458-1
1916

Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 462
Matrix# 462-1 (140)
1916
Note: Worn.

In the Gloaming (Blank)
Instrumental Trio
Little Wonder No. 517
Matrix# 517-2
1917

How's Every Little Thing in Dixie (Blank)
Band
Little Wonder No. 551
Matrix# ?
1917

Oh! Susie Behave (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 1031
Matrix# ?
1919

Jazzie Addie (Blank)
Jazarimba Orchestra
Little Wonder No. 1038
Matrix# ?
1919
Note: Extremely worn.

You'd Be Surprised (Blank)
Orchestra
Little Wonder No. 1263
Matrix# ?
1920
Note: Worn.

Swanee (Blank)
Tenor Solo
Little Wonder No. 1281
Matrix# ?; 6
1920

Oh By Jingo! (Blank)
Orchestra
Little Wonder No. 1312
Matrix# ?
1920

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