Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Gramophone records in a vault at the Paris Opera ...1907

I was reading a old Scientific American Magazine in 1982 and ran into this article. It said that a number of recordings were placed in a vault at the Paris Opera House and to be saved there till 2007. My imagination took off of course and I put the 1907 magazine away, I have since lost it. But the idea of a time capsule of sound was such a wonderful idea. I also knew at the time it would be 25 years till it was opened. But was it all about time and the future, or was it about then and sales of their records?

Of course it was all about sales. This was great free publicity! It would be all over the papers and push the fortunes of the Gramophone. Alfred Clark was the power behind it and he was the head of the Gramophone and Typewriter Company. The company would change its name soon to just the Gramophone Company.

In 1982 I asked tons of people about this, but no one was very sure about it. I was told by one person that they were moved out ages ago. One has to remember in 1982 there was no internet and it was basically calling and talking to museums and archives to get info....I was totally out of luck on this. And to be honest I pretty much forgot about it. I recall in the article it went into detail of how the records would be preserved.

The records were all placed in containers as you see in the photo and protected and sealed with asbestos, which was the magic mineral at the time.There was in the vault also a Gramophone Concert Grand to play the records when the yet unborn adventurers opened the vault in 2007.

To move ahead I have seen that there were some additions to the vault in 1912 and then it was resealed.

Bounce ahead to the 21st century and the vault was opened. Sadly it was found to be like many Egyptian tombs...Looted!

There were some containers of records there, but one of the containers was empty and the fancy Gramophone Grand was too!. Plus there was an added problem, the containers  that remained were coming apart and the asbestos was all over. In fact they needed bio hazard outfits to open them.  After doing this to one of the containers it was seen that there was little reason to open the others. As this was mainly a big publicity stunt there was nothing very special in the containers. Just standard issues records of the time of which hundreds of thousands exist to this very day. So there was a CD made of the records that already existed in collections. But still it was interesting to see when they finally opened the vault it answered the many questions I had in 1982 in a long forgotten article in Scientific American.