James Tigner

Phonographs on Postcards

In 1907 the postcard collecting craze came to the United States, having begun a few years earlier in Europe. The explosive popularity of postcards co-existed with the commercial viability of the phonograph, also known as the Gramophone, Victrola, or simply Talking Machine.

Although invented a little over a quarter-century earlier in 1877, by Thomas Edison, of lightbulb fame, the first phonographs were fragile, expensive, and overly complicated. However, by the first decade of the 20th century, talking machines were being mass produced. The newer models were much more dependable and affordable.

Of course the popularity of phonographs, being a sound medium, had nothing in common with the popularity of postcards, a visual medium. Still the quick installation of phonographs in almost every living room made them a popular subject for various visual themes on postcards.

Here are eight of my favorite postcards that show phonographs; click on the left or right arrows and some neat carousel software will help you see them one-by-one.

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Mary Schaefer

Loved the old musical clips!

Gordie Chamberlin

In addition to phonograph record postcards there are at least six postcards in my collection that do not show phonographs but have actual records embossed into them. My specialty is automotive related postcards and the manufactures or auto dealers sent out postcards with a musical message included. Some are standard size cards but some are oversize, round or square in shape. They are just another curiosity in our endless types or topics of postcards to collect.