Tagged: 1900s

Formats current at any point during the years 1900-1909

Cabinet card (1863 – early 1920s)

A cabinet card consists of an albumen print (although later cards used matte collodion, gelatin or gelatin bromide paper) mounted on a standard sized card backing of 4¼  by 6½ inches. Like the earlier carte de visite, the card displayed details of the the photographic studio that took the photograph, either below the below the photograph, on the back of the card, or both.

They were introduced in 1863 by a British photographic studio, Windsor & Bridge, and became widely used for portrait photography (initially, they were intended for landscape photography), superseding the smaller carte de visite. Cabinet cards were placed in albums like the carte de visite, although it was a few years before albums specifically for the larger size of cabinet cards became available, or could be placed on stands or in frames for display (often in parlour cabinets, hence the name). They reached a peak in their popularity in the 1880s.

The introduction of the simple and inexpensive Brownie camera by Kodak in 1900, meant home photography became much more affordable and the studio portrait less necessary, but cabinet cards continued to be produced as late as the early 1920s.

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Sterling Record (1904 – 1908)

Sterling cylinder (with packaging)Sterling Records were black wax moulded phonograph cylinders produced in England, initially in 1904 by the Sterling Record Company, and then from 1905 by the Russell Hunting Record Company.

Up until 1903, the cylinder market in England had been dominated by Edison Bell, whose patents gave them control. Once their patents expired, the market was opened to new competitors such as Sterling Records and Clarion Records.

Like the contemporary Edison Gold Moulded Records, Sterling Records were classed as 2 minute cylinders (100 threads per inch), but were around ¼-inch longer so had a little more capacity.

Sterling Records sold well with the first million cylinders sold in the first 22 weeks of business, and the cylinders were well recorded and made. However, they were discontinued in 1908 when the Russell Hunting Record Company went out of business.

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Carte de visite (1854 – 1900s)

A carte de visite consists of a small albumen print photograph on paper mounted on cards of around 2½ by 4 inches. The size of the format was patented by a Parisian photographer, André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri in 1854, and soon spread to the UK and the US. The standard size meant people could exchange portraits or even buy celebrity portraits and place them in special carte de visite albums. Cartes de visite could also be sent easily in the post unlike the previous daguerreotype and ambrotype photographs.

Carte de visite photographs were created in a camera that had multiple lenses, allowing several images on a single large glass photographic plate to reduce the cost. Since the negative was on a glass plate (using the wet collodian process) any number of further copies could be made.

In England, carte de visite were very popular, with sales running into hundreds of millions annually, and they also became popular during the American Civil War as soldiers and their families posed for photos. Most images were taken in the studio, though there were some of landscapes.

Sales of cartes de visite reached a peak during the 1860s, but they remained popular until the early 20th century despite the introduction of the larger cabinet card in the 1860s. Earlier examples usually use thinner card and the card had square corners. Rounded corners on the mount were introduced in the 1870s.

The introduction of the simple and inexpensive Brownie camera by Kodak in 1900, meant home photography became much more affordable and the studio portrait less necessary.

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Organ cobs (late 1880s – late 1920s)

Organ cobs or rollers were used in roller organs, and consisted of a cylinder of wood with pins in them that pressed on the keys in the organ to actuate them. Roller organs were a type of reed organ introduced in the late 1880s by the Autophone company of New York, and were an inexpensive and popular means of entertainment for the US market.

The smaller organ cobs could play 20-note roller organs (such as the cheapest Gem Roller Organ), but larger roller organ models (such as the Grand Roller Organ) were also available that could take larger cobs that could actuate 32 notes. Over 1,200 titles were produced on organ cobs.

Cobs were inserted into the roller organ and pinned in position. As the hand crank is turned, the bellows are operated and the cob is turned. As the cob turns, it shifts to the right, and goes through 3 revolutions, providing about a minute of music.

Roller organs were produced until the late 1920s.

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Tintype (1850s – 1930s)

Tintype (front)The tintype (also known as a ferrotype) was a type of photographic process invented in the 1850s that involved using a thin sheet of iron (not tin as the name suggests) as the backing for the image (as opposed  to film, paper, or glass).

Tintypes became popular in the 1860s and 1870s, but were used into the 21st century despite growing competition from prints on paper, and are currently enjoying a revival in interest. Tintypes could be taken outdoors provided the equipment needed to prepare and develop them was at hand. The process was often used at carnivals and fairs for taking inexpensive novelty photographs in a short amount of time, and a photographer could prepare, expose, develop and varnish a tintype plate in a few minutes. The resulting photograph was sturdy and did not require mounting.

Tintype photographs succeeded the ambrotype, which had some similarities. Ambrotypes also used the wet collodion process, but on a piece of glass that was dark in colour or painted with a black backing. The iron used in tintypes was also coloured black, and the resulting image was actually a negative that appeared positive.

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Pathé cylinder (1894 – 1914)

Pathé cylinders were introduced by the Pathé Freres company in France around 1894, after switching from selling Edison brown wax cylinders. By 1898, the first catalogue offered nearly  800 recordings.

Different sizes were available at various times during the course of production, including a standard size cylinder (2¼-inches in diameter), the ‘Salon’ cylinder (3½-inches in diameter), the ‘Stentor’ (5-inches in diameter, equivalent to concert cylinders by other manufacturers) and the ‘Céleste’ which was the largest cylinder record produced, measuring 5-inches in diameter and 9-inches long. The Céleste variant only lasted from 1903 to 1905.

Initially, Pathé cylinders were made of brown wax, but like other manufacturers, Pathé switched to a harder black wax formulation in 1903. Pathé’s recordings were made on large master cylinders and then dubbed to Pathé’s cylinder and disc formats. The repertoire of Pathé cylinders is entirely French.

Pathé cylinders were successful in France, but failed to make headway in the UK or US (Pathé disc records had more success outside France). Pathé cylinders ceased to be sold in the UK by 1906, but carried on being sold in France until 1914 despite Pathé having introduced disc records in 1905.

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Indestructible Record (1907 – 1922)

Indestructible Records were a type of phonograph cylinder made by the Indestructible Phonographic Co of Albany, New York starting in 1907.

Unlike the competing Edison cylinders (Gold Moulded Records and from 1908, Amberol Records) that were still made of a wax compound, Indestructible Records were made of celluloid making them much more durable. In addition, Indestructable records had a thick cardboard core, and metal rings at both ends.

It wasn’t until 1912 that Edison also began making celluloid cylinders (in the form of Blue Amberol Records).

As well as being sold directly, Indestructible Records were also distributed by Columbia Records, and were available through Sears, Roebuck and Co. under the Oxford Records label. Two and four-minute (from 1909) cylinders were available, and over the course of production 1,598 titles were available.

Indestructible Records were made until 1922, when a factory fire ended production.

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Amberol Records (1908 – 1912)

Amberol Records were a type of phonograph cylinder, introduced in 1908 by Edison Records. They were successor to the Gold Moulded Record, and by doubling the number of grooves to 200 threads per inch, Amberol Records doubled the playing time to 4 minutes.

The wax used in Amberols was a harder compound than previously and this new compound also began to be used in Gold Moulded Records at the same time. The process of making Amberol Records was the same, using a gold-coated mould made from a master cylinder, and like Gold Moulded Records, ran at 160 RPM.

Machines designed to play the older cylinders had to be modified to play Amberol Records, and phonographs were introduced in 1909 that could play either by moving a switch.

Although Amberol Records increased interest in cylinder records, there were problems as they cracked easily, could shatter during playback, and wore out rather quickly. Amberol Records were replaced in 1912 by Blue Amberol Records that used a different formulation (celluloid reinforced with a plaster of Paris core) to overcome some of these problems.

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Preservation / Migration

Graphophone / Dictaphone cylinder (1887 – early 1950s)

The Dictaphone was one of two competing wax cylinder phonograph systems for voice dictation, the other being Edison’s Ediphone system. The use of cylinders for voice recording pre-dated their use for music when, in 1887, Alexander Graham Bell, his cousin Chichester A. Bell, and Charles Sumner Tainter put into production a wax cylinder system for recording and reproducing speech (Edison then switched from tinfoil to wax cylinders in response in 1888).

Until 1907 the Dictaphone system was known as the Graphophone.

The main difference between the two rival systems was the recording method, with Edison using ‘hill and dale’ recording, while the Graphophone used lateral (side to side) recording. The cylinders could have a layer of wax shaved off, to enable re-use.

By the mid-1940s, new dictation technologies were rapidly being introduced such as Dictaphone’s own Dictabelt, Edison’s Voicewriter, the Gray Audograph and the SoundScriber, and both Edison and Dictaphone stopped supplying wax cylinders in the early 1950s.

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Stereoview (1850s – 1920s)

Stereoviews consist of two nearly-identical images, each taken a few inches to the side of the other. When viewed through two lenses set 2½-inches apart, approximately the space between the eyes, the result is the illusion of a three-dimensional image. They generally consist of two photographic images pasted onto a 3½-inch by 7-inch card, although earlier ones were sometimes images on glass.

They became popular first in Europe in the 1850s, followed by the US in the 1860s. Until the 1880s, most of the photographic images were created using wet plate negatives printed on albumen paper. From the 1890s, dry plate negatives printed on gelatin silver paper were produced by large companies, such as Underwood & Underwood in the US, or the London Stereoscope Company in the UK.

They faded in popularity in the 1920s, but the idea behind them was used in later formats like View-Master and Vistascreen.

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