Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 1963

The world has changed a lot in the half century since I was sitting with my mother watching the funeral of JFK. I have said pretty much everything I remember of those days. But one more thing to mention. The world changed on those cold, frightening days of November of 1963.
 I had lost my hero, everything in the world seemed a little less secure. For the boy who I was, it would never be quite the same.

 I was interested in the press conferences. My grandfather would watch them and make comments to me. I watched several of the press conferences with him. It was such a rare thing to hear people laughing at a press conference.

The death of the President was one that shook much of the world to its foundation. I cannot to this day think of another President who had such a connection to the people. It was the last time that a President would talk about the ancient Romans and Greeks. It was the last President who used history as a backdrop.

I am not sure if many of our later Presidents know much of anything about ancient Rome or Greece. JFK wanted to be a history teacher, or college professor. He loved and lived history. I am convinced to this day that he influenced me as a boy to follow history.

I was able to teach for a few years and it was a warm full circle to have one of JFK's great nephews in my class. He and I talked of his great uncle. Neither of us had ever met him, but we and mainly he was engulfed in his legacy.

 I got to meet many who were around him, Senator Edward Kennedy, Caroline, his daughter, President Gerald R. Ford and several others. Ford told me that he and Kennedy shared an office in their early days in the congress. Sometimes they would take late night walks together. Little did either know that they would both be President and that both of them would be very much involved in terrible points in the countries history.

I sat for those dark days in November at home. I watched the first all day news programs that started at the time of this all. I can still hear in my mind the sounds of the muffled drums as it radiated from the speaker of the black and white TV we watched on. I was already starting my interest in history. I even had a book on JFK made while alive. But I started to study more after that. I am glad we had a historian and not an academic as President. Academics never make for good leaders, and end up leaving disasters in their wake.

But as I write this 50 years to the day I heard those muffled drums, and came to realize that my hero was no more. I closed up my little office in my room in which I used to pretend I was President Kennedy and write bills and sign papers. Bought all the newspapers I could. Then I followed a path to studying history.

I was at Arlington Cemetery in mid 2010.  I stopped several places as I walked that rather rainy day. There were few people there and I was surrounded by those who had influenced history. I finally worked my way to JFK's and Jackie's graves. I stood before his grave and said audibly, "Thank you". Little did you know how much you influenced the mind and career of a young boy.

Fifty years ago, the world and my life changed forever.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The John F. Kennedy assassination. The body, the brain and the casket.. My own theories on much of the confusion.

Now just when we have thought we had heard it all, there are new theories on the assassination. There was even a theory out not long ago saying Jackie did it with a pistol. Well, of course I think much of this is all poppycock. To be honest 99.9% is all nonsense. But there is truth to be found here and there.

 I have a theory on the assassination and why there is a so much confusion over everything.  While I do  have some issues over the shooting, I have large number of issues with what happened after in the autopsy. While the shooting may not have been done by just one person. This was the first part of the insistent push for the removal of the body. Secondly, Kennedy's body was a political landmine.  If any of his many medical problems were let out it would have tremendous consequences on the political system and how he was elected in the first place with all of his medical issues. The autopsy for several reasons needed to be in a controlled environment.

The Autopsy ..This is where much happens.

It is now common knowledge that Kennedy had "Addison's Disease". It is common knowledge today that he was on so many medications, some good and many very bad. Lastly it is common knowledge that he had a vast array of sexually contracted diseases. Due to his incessant sexual forays with call girls, prostitutes, and anyone else who he felt was needed for his pleasure.

He also had other problems that no one in power, or his family wanted anyone else to know.. So much of the confusion and the odd occurrences at the autopsy was to allow them to remove and change much of the medical evidence, and perhaps the wounds. This is where all the issues and problems arise.

Kennedy lived in a very frail eggshell of enclosure. Had much or for that matter any of this information been made public at the time it would have destroyed not only the faith in the election process, but also the legacy of who Kennedy was. His image was one of great vigor and health. While the true story was one of a man of uncertain health, and an array of potentially deathly problems.

So while the the medical team in Dallas was finishing the work on the body there was a frantic push by the Kennedy team to get the body back to Washington DC and not have a Pathologist in Dallas do the autopsy.

 Had they done it in Dallas a number of odd facts and medical abnormalities would have been found.

 This is where all the problems begin. Because now that JFK was dead, it became the sole objective of his family and staff to hide all of the evidence of his illnesses.

I have felt that many people are concerned with the shooting and think of that as the conspiracy. But I am thinking that much of the conspiracy stands with the US Government, Kennedy team, and family and friends to get the body out of the hands of anyone who could not be controlled.

In a way this action also controlled the Warren Commission.  There were large holes of information carefully kept from them, much through a really badly run and monitored autopsy. Even the head medical pathologist at JFK's autopsy said he burned all of his notes. Lastly no information about the autopsy was given to them in the way of photos or medical information. They relied on drawings and written testimonies. Hence the drawings were flawed and this started a hornets nest of activity about it being faked. There were too many problems to hide.

The main reason that they did not see the info on the autopsy was that Robert Kennedy did not let them see it. I can once again see him protecting his brothers legacy, but this was going much too far. Also Robert was aware that the assassination was larger than stated and was far more involved than what they needed the Warren Commission to speculate on.  The Warren Commission was designed to just put a lid on this boiling cauldron.

The adrenal glands were removed from the body. Also while doing the study of the body the various and apparent signs of venereal disease were stripped from the record. No information on what was in the blood as that would list a frightening array of mind altering compounds.

This is what causes the many things that have haunted this event ever since. He was protecting the image of the President, but these actions backfired!

That is why the autopsy was done in a strange way, that is why the adrenal glands were removed, that is why the sexual infections of the President were recorded and observed and the notes destroyed. Much like the FDR's doctor did on his death. His personal physician burned all of FDR's medical notes, as it would show what was really wrong and how sick he was.

Much the same could be said of Kennedy, and you can just imagine the horror that was felt by those in control in Washington that the body may end up somewhere and for that fact, not in a controlled environment. So once the body comes to Washington the autopsy sanitizes everything.
His brain was removed as were many slides of tissue samples. They were kept in a locker at the National Archives. Two people were known to have keys for it. Evelyn Lincoln (JFK's personal secretary) and Robert Kennedy.

By 1966 the locker was emptied of all things dealing with the autopsy. Also the casket that JFK was returned to Washington in was also kept at the National Archives. It was removed by the actions of Robert Kennedy, and in a special action by the US government was holed and sunk in the North Atlantic in 1966.

What was in it, who knows?  No one ever will..

 But that would be a perfect place and action to get rid of evidence. I have heard that RFK buried the brain when his brothers casket was moved in 1967, then why not move the brain out of the locker in 1967, why 1966?

 In my mind and imagination the rest of JFK's body was buried in 10 thousand feet of water in the North Atlantic. That makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

Everyone was looking at the shooting, not what going on in keeping the many problems the president had, a secret. So was it a conspiracy? A conspiracy to hide information, fake facts, and change the history and story around so much that no one knew what was true or not.

I would think that Robert Kennedy was much involved in protecting his brothers legacy, and destroying and hiding evidence of anything that would harm his late brothers image. That was his job when his brother was alive to hide, destroy, and clean up the picture so his brother looked good.

 So much was tampered with, much was deliberately destroyed and of course this worked hand in hand with the assassination theorists, who were more focused on the shooting than what was being destroyed and covered up at the autopsy. It was done badly, so it left a lot of questions which worked well in the hands of conspiratorial theorists. Because if there is one question that cannot be answered clearly, you have the routes of conspiracy.

I can understand to a degree what can happen if information is passed onto the public dealing with a popular President and a past that was not as what was thought. Warren G. Harding was very much like JFK in that regard.
What finished Harding off was that he had no protectors. He did not have a brother who was Attorney General. His history and his past was cast to the wolfs and his legacy was destroyed. Not that he was a bad president, but one who was not protected after death.

So now as we come closer to the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.  I expect to hear lots about the assassination.

 But, little about what was frantically done in a Bethesda Medical Centers operating room to protect and preserve a legacy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Victor Talking Machine Companies 1902 Plaid label. Put out in late 1902 and never repeated as it was very hard to read.

There is very scant information on this record label. I can say it is very rare and was issued not for a long time.  It's existence is not known by many in the record collecting world. The recording was made on July 16, 1902. It was titled Scotland's Pride and was performed by the Kilties Band of Canada. The band was under the direction of William F. Robinson. This band made a series of recordings in 1902 and their labels in their first issue looked like this.

As to where the recording was made I would guess it was made in Philadelphia. But that is a guess as I cannot find anything as to where this record was made. However, I have found information that the Kilties Band of Canada was doing concerts at Willow Grove Park in Pennsylvania on July 12, 1902.  Since this recording was made on July 16, 1902. It makes sense that it was Philadelphia.  The record was first issued in 1902 with the fancy, hard to read plaid label. It was afterwards put out with a black label that was readable. This early and quite rare recording is one of the more unique labels put out by the Victor Company. I moved it around as best as I could to make a scan of it.

Here you will see an example of a Victor record and also a Berliner Gramophone record in Canada. Both wearing the same type of plaid label. In the case of the Canadian record, it is far easier to read as everything is printed in black. For the Victor company, they used the same gold lettering and picture as they did on the black and red labels. However in that case they are readable. This record for Victor is very unreadable and would soon disappear.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A whale oil lamp from the 19th century. It is an old piece but did serve well during hurricane Sandy

Here is a nice example of a 19th century whale oil lamp. It has 3 burners and shades that I guess would have glass or some kind of material on those shades. I have had it a while and of course it is very old. I had lit it when I first got it to see if it would still work and it did. But when I was forced into a near week of no electricity, lighting became an issue, it was pressed into service and was very useful in providing light, heat, and comfort during those very dark days in October.

Here is that lamp doing what is was designed to do all those years ago.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Remembering the election of 1968..One of the worst years in the history of the United States

Oh how I remember that election. It was fraught with confusion, anger, and the press not sure who was the winner. That election was confused. What had happened that year was horrific from the Democratic Convention in Chicago with the mass beatings of protesters and the break up of that party to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. There were riots all over. The war in Viet Nam was terrible. The death toll was always on the news. I grew up with the image of Viet Nam on the news. From the early 1960's onward it was a focal point of our lives and the stories of many soldiers coming back in body bags.

I watched the news that night till I fell asleep. It was said by many on the news that night that Humphrey would win. That Nixon would be defeated again for the office. This was the first election I really was focused on.  We had a black and white TV with a 12 inch screen. Of course we used rabbit ears on the top of the TV to get the best reception. But our reception was always very snowy. People today do not understand what it was like on old TV's.. That you not only changed the channel by hand, but, after changing the channel you had to adjust the antenna to catch the signal. After that you needed to fine tune it. Often the best reception was when you were holding the rabbit ears. I saw this technology come into use during and after 9-11 when most of the stations were knocked off and Peter Jennings was transmitting on UHF.

I had figured when I went to bed that Humphrey had won. I kind of liked Humphrey and was looking forward to his presidency.  I was not too impressed with Johnson, but I found him rather boring to watch. I did watch him make the statement that he would not be a candidate for office in 1968.

I went to bed and woke up to the news that Nixon would be the next President. I felt sorry for Humphrey. He was always a little short of a win for office...A prize he truly wanted, but would never have.

It is a little hard to conceive what it was like back then..It was a very different time and a very disrupted and divided country. That was truly on the brink of exploding. Within a few years it would all change.

1968 was one of the worst years in our countries history.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have always been a blast from the past. Just looking at my desk says it all

I have always been comfortable with an older style of desk. I am not really into plastics or Formica. I enjoy real wood and well made and designed furniture. My desk is an old secretary desk. In it I keep my papers, write papers, read books, and put various objects that are important to me. It is a clever desk and has secret compartments which are fun for small delicate items. But all in all it is an enjoyable desk for me. When I first saw it I was in love with it. So I thought I would share where I spend much time in the evenings. In this desk I keep all of my 17th, 18th, and 19th century books. Sometimes I will read a little of one of them. Just one of my more enjoyable things to do.  I know so well it is not for everyone.

But it is a well designed, sturdy, and most useful piece for me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Victor Talking Machine's first celebrity records. The short lived 5000 Red Seal series of 1903

It is always interesting to see where a series comes from. In the field of recorded sound the first red seal records were called so. The short lived Gramophone Red Seal records recorded in Russia in the end of 1900 were the first. The term Red Seal was used just shortly. Later that term was no longer used by the Gramophone or Gramophone and Typewriter. However, the Victor Talking Machine Company newly formed and incorporated on Oct 3, 1901, was looking for something new to showcase the operatic field.

In today's world it is hard to explain the rank that operatic singers were placed at during this period. I would guess that the movie stars of today are the closest in that adoration. They were looked at as the highest form of entertainer and treated like royalty.

By 1902 the Victor company was looking to expand their base. There was basically a large proportion of popular, coon, band, and comedy recordings produced by the company at their meager recording studios in Philadelphia. Although they were very successful in this field, Eldridge Reeves Johnson wanted to make the Victor Record more than just as it was looked at, and that was merely as a toy.

The Gramophone and Typewriter company which is what the Gramophone Company was know as till 1907 was recording operatic singers from it's start. The company was recording from the late 1890's operatic pieces of various qualities. By 1902 they had recorded Caruso, Calve, Plancon,  theVatican Choir with the last Castrates along with many others.  A deal was worked out in late 1902 by Calvin Child so that Victor would press and market recordings made in Europe by G&T.

This event would change the very face of the Victor Talking Machine Company.  These European recordings would be released in March of 1903. These records would have a red label and be put into the first series of it's kind, the 5000 series.  These records would sell at $2.50 each. One has to remember how much money that was in 1903. This amount would buy you a wonderful meal at Delmonico's in New York City.

This first release would be of 25 recordings and over the year more would be added during the spring and summer. By October there were a large number of recordings to choose from.

The 5000 series would be available till October of 1903. The end result was there was not a massive amount of these records ever made or sold. The price and the early date led to very small sales. But one had to remember it was not at all about sales. It was about prestige. I am aware that a very small amount of pressings each of the listings were made. Therefore after 110 years they are remarkably rare. When they were pressed they were rare.

A 1903 pressing on 5067 of the Vatican Choir recorded in April 1902 and pressed in the United States.

In October of 1903 there was change on the labels. All of the recordings that were on the 10 inch 5000 series were split. A large amount of the imported recordings were split into two different numerical listings. Many of the Red Seal records were switched to what is called 91000 series as shown below. In fact this is the same recording shown above in this new series. There is something odd about this record. It has a "D" on the bottom of the wax under the label. The "D" stands for the Dennison Recording machines, which were used by Victor and in some cases G&T from 1903 till around 1907. But this record was made in April of 1902 and most probably not using a Dennison machine. But basically most records made by Victor in this period were stamped with the "D". This was for royalty reasons that the records were marked. However I am of the thought that many recordings were stamped not needing to.

Many of these imported recordings were put on to another numerical listing for records of this type. It was called the 61000 series. The 12 inch recordings would be given the 71000 series. In fact you will see below another recording made at the Vatican in 1902 that made it to the black labeled series. These records would be priced at $1.00.  The recording below is from late 1905 or early 1906. Most of these recordings on the black labels would be gone by 1907.

A late 1906 pressing of a 1904 G&T recording. You will see that there is no "D" on this recording.

As you can see here in a 1906 listing of Imported Red Seal Records, the list is getting shorter. This was due to the fact as soon as the artist could make a new recording for Victor, the old ones listed here would be removed. The 91000 series was not a big seller either, but, was far more successful than the 5000 series.

Here are many of the recordings made at the Vatican in 1902-04 listed under the 61000 and 71000 series. In the catalog of early 1906.

Also many of the recordings made in 1902-3 in Russia were put on to the 61000 series. There had been a few originally released as Red Seal recordings.

The 91000 series would end in within a few years as the Victor Talking Machine Company would start it's first Red Seal recording series in late 1903 as you will see below. This record is from the first Red Seal session recorded in the United States in 1903. However the first Red Seal records were listed with Black Label numbers.

The end result was a massive amount of confusion concerning Imported Red Seal, Imported Black Seal, domestic Red Seal, and domestic Black label. Lastly at this time Victor started a new matrix system. However the first domestic Red Seal Records received a domestic Black label number which shows the confusion that abounded. This Red Seal problem would exist for the first two sessions at Carnegie Hall. That famous music hall is where the recording studio was located in room 826.

One of the rare examples of the first domestic Red Seal records with a Black Label number.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Remembering my last trip to the World Trade Center on September 9, 2001

I remember the towers so well. I lived with them for nearly 30 years. I had been in them more times than I could ever tell. I worked in them in the late 1980's. But every now and then when guests or friends would like to see them of course I would take them up. I was there at the opening of them when they tossed King Kong off the top. That was in 1974 or so. Everyone cheered when he fell of the tower. A quarter century later everything changed. I took my friend from New Zealand to the top on September 9th of 2001. It was perhaps the hundredth time I had been to the top.

 I always remember the representations of people as you came to the next to top floor. They were like cardboard cutouts. Also there was a display of rolling balls in a display windows. It was always interesting to watch the heavy balls roll all around on a track in that display. The next to the top floor was glassed in and you could press close to the glass and look so far down. There was I recall as always the souvenir section and items that could be purchased. Of course I did not buy any, I could always come back if I ever needed anything. But to be honest I would have no reason to buy any of that. Why would I?  I have no momentous of the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. The towers were going to be there long after I left this  mortal coil, at least that is what I thought then. Who could have ever guessed?  After walking around and looking down at the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing the various displays and items that were all around at the top.  Then we went up the escalator to the roof area. This was outside and open to the elements. It was fine that day, just a little humid. It was up here you could see in great detail the antenna on the other slightly taller tower. It was Sunday so it was a little crowded. But it was ok to see a great distance. From this area you see the very curvature of the earth. The area up there was a bit of a lovers lane. There was one couple I remember that were much more involved in kissing and each other than to see the sights.  I bet they, if they are still together remember that day very well.   

 I remember that day, perhaps because I would see the buildings on fire live and come crashing down. I always had a good view of the towers. I remember I took two friends I knew to the top in 2000. Then I did this trip in September of 2001.  They took a number of pictures and I took two. Both of the ones I took did not come out too good, I was using a Kodak disposable camera that you took pictures and then brought it to the drug store to get it developed.  So of my two pictures I took, one came out the other had my finger over some of the lens...Funny the things we forget about cameras of years ago  You never knew if you took a good picture till it was developed.

So we went to the top that day, I will always remember the big banner that was in part of the building saying that "MCDONALD'S IS COMING THE THE WORLD TRADE CENTER" .  I saw where it was going to be, but really did not think much about it till after the disaster. If I had taken a picture of that banner it would have been quite historic. Cause I really do not see anyone talking about that. Well it is funny what you remember.

I had my small ticket stub, of which I threw out after leaving the building.  I remember that evening when we were ready to go home. It was late by then and we had gone out and had dinner and had a few drinks. We stopped for a short while outside of the towers and just looked up at them. Border's Books was right there too and that was always a nice place to stop and look at some books or magazines. Several books in my library came from that bookstore. I have always had a habit of writing information of where I got the book when I would purchase it. So many many merely say.."bought at the WTC Borders and what ever the date would be. Now that Borders Books no longer exists either, adds to the history of it all.   I always remember there would be lots of artists all around the buildings selling their wares. Also you could sit at a table in the court yard and have a drink. I always enjoyed taking the bridge over to the winter garden too. One last thing to mention was the large mall below the towers. There were stores of every kind and restaurants down there.From the mall area you would take these very long escalators to the area where you could get to the PATH trains and subways. But I saw most of that on that last day I was there.

We looked up at the buildings. I always looked for that bright blinking red light that was on the very top of the antenna on the one tower. I watched it blink as my friend was thinking of taking some more pictures of it in night and later in the week during the day. So he took a few that night and one which is here. It was not a very special or well done picture, just a quick shot of a building... I just wish I took a picture of that banner.

Less than 2 days later there would be nothing to photograph but ruin..


   A picture of the towers taken on the night of September 9, 2001. The pictures I took were not too good at all. But my friends pictures were far better.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Airship Mail 1932. A letter sent across the United States from coast to coast on the airship USS. Akron.

The USS Akron was one of the two monster airships built for the United States Navy.  Starting in 1931 with the Akron and followed by the Macon in 1933, which would crash in 1935. The Akron would crash in 1933 off the coast of New Jersey. The loss of life was tremendous. 

Here I have put in a few pictures of the airship. Also that letter that was sent airmail in 1932 via the USS Akron.

The Akron moored and resting

The Akron at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1932. Note the airship Los Angeles in the massive hanger. The hanger still exists.

The letter has lots of great stamping all over. It is a great piece of history from when these giants roamed the skies. This letter sailed for several days on the massive airship.

Even the back does as well.

The Akron flying over New York

The ship mooring in California

Little bottle opener that is made of the same metal as the frame of the Akron. These were sold years ago during the 1930-1932 period

Friday, August 30, 2013

Columbia Phonograph Company record labels for the year of 1902. A year of big changes in the labels and the company itself..

The Columbia Phonograph Company had a rather shaky beginning when it came to the flat disc record. First off, they did not have any patents to support the making of disc records when they started their venture in mid 1901. The beginning of the Columbia disc started in New Jersey. In Milburn. New Jersey to be exact. The head of the Columbia Company Edward Easton went to the Burt Company in Milburn to see about the ability of this company to manufacture disc records. It would not be a problem for them. They had dealt with discs before for a while with the Berliner Gramophone Company.  The Climax recordings would be made by the recording engineer Mr. English. Who incidentally was the recording engineer for the International Zonophone Company. It seems that much of the talent for the early Climax Records comes from the pool of talent that was recording for Zonophone.

The original deal set up in mid 1901 was that the Burt Company would create a company within called the Globe Record Company. Through this company would be records in which Columbia could sell. These records would be called Climax Records. In fact for the first 3 weeks of production, which was very limited. The first Climax Records had no affiliation on it's label to the Columbia Company. In fact it is not totally understood why they were made this way. Was it possible that the Burt Company was selling the records too? What ever the reasons for this short lived label it was within weeks replaced. The original label was no label at all, the information about the record was embossed on the disc itself. Within 3 weeks of this original style the embossed records had labels placed over the printed material of the record stating it was a Climax Record made by the Globe Record Company solely for the Columbia Phonograph Company. This whole scene gets rather confusing as you dig deeper. But for all of 1901 there was the Climax Record.

Now for the main point of this article, by late 1901 it was a pretty open secret that Columbia was behind the Climax Records and was producing them illegally. For what they were doing went against the patents of Emile Berliner, creator of the first commercial disc record.. Until October of 1901 there was little Berliner could do about this. Because he had been forced out of the industry by the Columbia Phonograph Company and their magnificent lawyer Phillip Morro. Mr. Morro had used a very liberal interpretation of an early Bell-Tainter patent to force Berliner out through an injunction. Now of course Berliner could seethe, but do little else. 

But on Oct 3, 1901 Eldridge R. Johnson and Emile Berliner joined forces and created the Victor Talking Machine Company. It's initials were VTM and that is very important. On December 10, 1901 Columbia received their first patent on disc recording that mattered. It was the Joseph Jones patent for making wax disc recording. Edward Easton and the Columbia crew breathed a sigh of relief. Now they can take a break and have a well deserved vacation. 

They had not given much thought to the Globe Record Company as of late or to the Burt Company who was not happy about that. Do to this fact Columbia had been very late paying bills. Not once, but several times and the Burt Company was understandably very upset. 


                               The January 1902 raid on the Globe Record Company

In the dawn of the new year Eldridge Johnson paid a visit to the Burt Company and bought the Globe Record Company from them. This is very important. Remember that the Globe Record Company was making the Climax Records for Columbia. Now the main competitor of Columbia and the possessor of all the Berliner Patents owned the company that made their records! 

After the purchase of the Globe Company Johnson arranged to have all the Climax stampers from Globe brought to the Victor headquarters in Philadelphia. There each of the Climax Stampers was affixed with a circle next to the label saying VTM in it's center.  When Edward Easton and the Columbia crew returned from their vacations they were shocked to discover that their recordings were being made by their competitor and not only that. Each of their records advertised and showed who owned the records, VICTOR!!

A lot of legal issues followed as Columbia and Victor prepared to do battle. But armed with the Jones patent, Columbia could do a lot of harm to Victor. However, armed with the Berliner patents Victor could do the same to Columbia. So after a few months of a severe staring match...both blinked. Victor sold the Globe Record Company back to Columbia and Columbia allowed Victor to use the Jones patent. Of course this pooling of patents and legal movements had a profound effect on the labels of Columbia records in the year of 1902. In fact there are 5 different styles of label for this momentous year. I have put them all together here to show what I think was the progression. By 1903 everything got more simple and the labels stayed somewhat the same. 


This is the Standard early 1902 Climax Record made by the Globe Record Company when it was owned for a short while by the Victor Talking Machine Company. Note the VTM at the 2 o clock position. This label would be produced for a few months in the beginnings of the year as all the legal battles ensued. Note also the brass grommet in the center. Also note that there is no information anywhere on patents.

There was a transformation of the Climax Label as Columbia was starting to produce their own records. However, most of the recordings owned by Columbia were announced at the beginning as a Climax Record. So while a massive recording program started to make records with Columbia announcements The Climax's were sold with the VTM on it. You will see here as well on this mid 1902 Climax the VTM is also at the same 2 o clock position as the previous. This would be the last Climax label. It would be killed in middle of the year.  You will also see no patent information and the brass grommet is used like the previous.

The first Columbia label produced in the first few months of 1902. There are several telling factors. First off this is a Climax record. There was a massive mix of Columbia and Climax recordings in the early months of 1902. Through much of the year labels would be confused, masters confused, Title's confused as the Climax Record was phased out and the Columbia Record was phased in. So here we have a very early Columbia Label. It is a Climax Record as you can see the VTM at 2 o clock.  What you will see here also is no patent information. No information at all on the record. However for a very short time the Climax grommet would be carried over to the new Columbia Label.

 A slightly later Columbia Record from the middle of 1902. Note that the grommet is now gone. However here we have another example of a Climax Record. Oddly the stamp this time is at the 10 o clock position. This is due to the label just going the other way and the VTM is upside down. I gather by this time the less people that saw that or read it the better. This is the beginnings of a large amount of production of Columbia Discs. The Climax Record was no longer being produced. However this year many of the old Climax stampers were used till they wore out as Columbia needed to re-record nearly every one of their records. The records without announcements made for Climax would be used for years by Columbia. But this is the last of the no information labels

Finally we come to the last of the 1902 labels and it has the information we were looking for. Patents! By the time this record came out there were very few if any Climax records being pressed anymore.  I am sure the Columbia Company heaved a sigh of relief when the this label made it appearance. Finally the Columbia disc had come of age and was legal.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Len Spencer..1867-1914 One of the greatest recording artists in history.. His life and death dealt with recorded sound.

Leonard Garfield Spencer Feb 12,1867- Dec 15, 1914..

Len Spencer as he was known was the son of the inventor of the Spencer method of writing. He grew up in Washington DC. That area in the 1880's into the early 1890's was the center of recording activities. In this small area of Washington DC was the Bell and Tainter Graphophone Company, the Berliner Gramophone Company, and the Columbia Phonograph Company.

Spencer and soon later his brother Harry would become major players in the phonograph industry. Len Spencer made several thousand recordings in his career that spanned over 20 years.  He was on every label on disc recording and every cylinder record company as well. So in short he recorded for everyone! If anyone is familiar with the famous Edison advertising cylinder (I am the Edison phonograph), it was recorded by Spencer.  If anyone watches the History Channel and listens to William McKinley speak, it isn't McKinley, it is Len Spencer. If you find early recordings of Jekyll and Hyde it is Len Spencer. In any batch of early recordings you will always find Len Spencer. He truly was everywhere.

 A Zonophone label from 1907 containing the voices of Spencer and recording partner Ada Jones.

A 1902 recording of Spencer on the newly formed Victor Talking Machine Company.

A Columbia recording of Spencer and Jones again in 1906.

Spencer made recordings with everyone and was on many group recordings such as Minstrel recordings for Victor, Columbia, Zonophone, Edison, American Record Company, Leeds, and others...

In his later years he opened a music business and theatrical agency. Here he hired George Washington Johnson to be the doorman. It was at this agency that he dropped dead at his desk on December 15, 1914. His funeral was held at Campbell's Funeral home where many other great performers funerals would be held. What was most unique about his funeral was this...

He was the speaker!

He had recorded pieces earlier to used in the case of his death. So he read the 23rd psalm at his funeral and also recited the Lord's Prayer.   After this show and after all was done his widow and children went with the body to a crematorium and after that the ashes were brought to the family plot in Washington DC.

So ended the career of a remarkable recording artist..who entertained while alive and dead. To this very day Len Spencer is still heard often. After 99 years it is a rewarding fact to any recording artist to be remembered.  I can say most truthfully that I will never hear most of Len Spencer's output, cause it just is so much. Few recorded as well, often, with more dialects, and was as well respected by many in his field than Len Spencer.

Report of the commission on the renovation of the Executive Mansion. Official report published by the Government Printing Office in late 1952.

Between the years 1948 and 1952 there was a massive restoration of the White House. In many ways of thinking it was more a total destruction of the building (save the walls) than a restoration or renovation.

The entire building was gutted and rebuilt with a steel inter structure as used in all modern buildings. The White House today is a modern building that has little relationship with it's great history.

The only thing that really is original structurally save for a few items inside is the outside walls. This report is on the destruction and rebuilding of the White House. So the word renovation, although in the minds of many means to restore. In this case it means rebuild.

The definition of the word renovation...

Definition of RENOVATE

: to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)

The term fits. But most people are not aware that the White House is really a new structure.

 Although this project was done a little over 60 years ago, the methods used today are 180 degrees different than what was used then. For today we try to preserve what is original, rather than just tear everything down.

This report goes through everything

In this copy I have there is a mimeograph copy of the letter sent to the Secretary of the Army with regards and requests to have this book for his personal library and to give out some others to various other officials.

The cornerstone of the "new"White House.   Which was built in the 1948-52 period, not restored.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Indentured Servant document from 1681

Here is a rather rare and unusual document from February of 1681. It is a document of indenture. Basically becoming a slave for a period of years. This document is long and detailed and I could not copy all of it. But, here is a much of it and the signatures on the back of this velum document.

So just a unique piece from well over 330 years ago.

 Indenture says it all doesn't it?

On the top of the picture above  you will see the writing of the date. Written in a script and in a very long form.

 I wonder what ever happened to the servant who was here signing much of his life away long ago.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The very rare sleeve for Marconi Velvet Tone Records. 1907-08

Now many in the record collecting world are quite familiar with the famous and to a degree infamous Marconi Velvet Tone Record. Which was introduced by Columbia in 1907. It was a very well made record that was not only unbreakable, but also flexible. In an age of easily broken 78 RPM recordings it seemed to be a great answer to the problem.

 However, it was not. It was an advanced recording that was produced with just mediocre pressings of existing Columbia records. One of the recordings I have has an announcement! Announcements were discontinued in 1903! This gives an idea of what was being put on these records. Some good stuff, but also some rather old and out of date recordings as well.

 By 1908 they were gone. They were too ahead of their time and the needles needed to play them caused them the greatest pain. Cause you could not remove them from your phonograph till it was worn out. So it required you to play only Marconi records or regular records. You could not mix. This was one of their great problems.and soon they were dropped. 

However, there was a short number tried in the South American market in 1908 in double disc format. These are quite rare today. 

 But nothing is more uncommon than the original sleeves for these records. The sleeves were made of a heavy cardboard and had a thin cellophane window in the place for the record label. Some what reminiscent of Victor's and G&T's celebrity record sleeves of the 1903-1905 period. They had a picture of Marconi and info on the records. But most of all the sleeve announces to all that this invention of the Marconi record is as wonderful as wireless! 

 The regular Marconi label after they put up the picture of him with his hairpiece.(See an earlier article on these records)

 The back with all the do's and don't's of the Marconi Velvet Tone.

The quite rare record sleeve in it's original form in 1907

As you can see it was really a big thing to Columbia as these records were as wonderful as wireless.

The last straw and the South American Marconi Records in double disc form in 1908

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The sales book for the McKinley assassination memorial book.. Late September 1901

In mid September 1901. The 25th President of the United States died from the effects of an assassins bullet. As soon as the funeral was into swing there were memorial books on the planning board. There would have been several hundred of these thin sales books printed. The book was still being formulated a week after the assassination but, it was in the works. So this book and books like it were brought door to door by hundreds of sales people, The final finished book was a big seller and of course this door to door campaign was quite successful.

One must remember it was dealing with an assassination of the president. But if you were over 42 years of age at this time you would have seen this as the third assassination of a president in just 36 years! For there had been two before McKinley and they were in a rather close time period.  Lincoln in 1865, Garfield in 1881 and then McKinley in 1901.

So this book would be filled with not only a story about McKinley. But it was filled with Victorian styled grief and overkill. In one of the illustrations it has McKinley being brought into the "Hall of Martyrs" in Heaven. But this book would sell well as McKinley was so universally grieved for.It is odd that he is so little remembered today, considering his popularity then.

Of course it had instructions to sales agents

An example of the title page and a few chapters to give a certain gist to the book that was to be.

Showing who else had been shot and killed in the last 36 years.

The assassin

Lastly, the order form

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The first commercial recordings of birds... Bremen, Germany 1910

In 1910 the German branch of the Gramophone Company made a series of unique recordings at the Aviary of Karl Reich in Bremen. This was a very adventurous jump in the field of acoustic recording. For in this case the recordings were made onto wax masters that could not be stopped or started once the recording began. Everything was done on a single take. Just the thought of that makes it so remarkable. But the Gramophone Company was not there to record one of the canaries of the operatic stage, They were there to record the voices of birds! These first recordings were on red seal records.

The Nightingale recording was done first. In fact there were several Nightingale recordings made. Some with great results and of course a few that were problematic. Of course these birds were remarkably loud and sang a lot. It is interesting as you listen to the recording made over 100 years ago you can hear the bird bouncing around in it's cage. 

The Gramophone Company which had just changed it's name back from being the Gramophone and Typewriter Company was rightly proud of these recordings made by it's German branch and by the recording engineer Max Hampe. The process was explained in literature put out by the Gramophone Company and also by it's sister companies in other parts of Europe and in the United States. The pressings shown here are from the pressings by the Victor Talking Machine Company in the 1913-15 period. In it's description of the recording process a cage was placed directly before the recording horn and the bird was allowed to sing. It was quite amazing how much the birds did sing. The recordings were an acoustical triumph. They are remarkably lifelike and are stilled used in digital form on some bird sites. 

The following recordings were made in the 1910 to 1912 period.  They would be pressed in much of Europe till 1914 and in the United States till 1916. During the war anything German was banned. But these wonderful recordings were re-released by 1920. These recordings were the first and are still highly regarded in the field of bird song recordings. Who would have thought that one hundred and three years ago.

 A 1913 pressing of the 1910 original and first recording of captive Nightingale. These recordings were remarkable. But quite understandably were not massive sellers. Today they are quite rare. Putting the bird on a red seal record was an odd choice. This label was used for the most famous opera singers and classical instrumentalists. But for a while this Nightingale from Bremen, Germany was one of the great stars on red seal records. The Nightingale was in the company of Caruso, Tetrazzini, Melba and other singers that many would call canaries.

In this adventurous recording there is a duet. Two birds in front of a recording horn from the 1910-1912 period. All of these blue labeled Victor recordings were pressed in the 1913-15 period..Rather than being on the Red Seal the other birds were on blue label records. in which all would be in time. But this is an example of an early 1913-15 style label.

Here is the lovely song of a Sprosser (also known as a field Nightingale)

The second recording of a Nightingale made in 1910.

Lastly the song of a Thrush. Recorded in the 1910 -1912 period. Recorded before the World Wars and the dreadful destruction of the of the age in which these recordings were made.  A rare and unique series of recordings.