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Forty Years In Collecting - Part 2
Bas Ingrouille

One summer while visiting Vancouver, my daughter had cut out an ad in the local newspaper advertising a battery-operated phonograph. The ad was 3 weeks old, but I phoned about it and found it was still available but couldn't find much more about it on the phone. So I got my daughter to drive me downtown to a car wrecker's yard. I found the boss and he said he still had it. He uncovered a Model B battery-operated Edison in a solid, heavy leather case. The case was all tooled. It had an 8 volt battery in it, complete with reproducer and a plated pipe running around half of the case with 12 take offs for listening ear pieces, still with some of the earpieces. They wanted $100.00 for it. I finally bought it for $75.00. He helped me to put it in the car trunk - it weighed 75 pounds. I shipped it home by freight, costing another $75.00. I cleaned and lubricated the machine, cleaned the horsehide case, hooked it up to 4 cells of a 12 volt car battery and it ran and played.

I was fortunate in picking up 2 special Columbia phonographs, one in the shape of a small grand piano, another built into the drawer of a 3 foot square mahogany table - the horn telescoped out when one pulled open the drawer with the mechanism inside.

I ended up with about 250 phonographs, all different - several types and models of Edison Standards, Firesides, Homes, Gems (black and maroon), Concert and Opera. I had many models of Victor from models 1 to 6, table models and uprights. I had Columbia disc and cylinder models, some key wind machines, several toy models, machines that play 78's and have 35mm projectors built in. I also had many portables, large and small, Camera phonographs, Miki-Phone, Stewart-Warner, cast iron machines, diamond disc machines - table and upright, Pathe machines, etc., etc.

It got to a point where I couldn't find a machine that I didn't have so I turned to collecting music boxes, cylinder and steel disc models, large and small. I also had several models of parlour organs, some with paper rolls, some with steel discs and some that played wooden cobs. Not satisfied I started collecting old telephones, wall and table and candlestick models. As a matter of fact I still have a fair stock of telephone parts.

I also purchased a large stock of phonograph parts originally owned by a man who operated a phonograph repair business in the 1920's. He had passed away but the parts were stored until I was fortunate to purchase them from one of his sons. The repair business had been located on Yonge Street at McPherson and was called Best Phonograph Repair. I supplemented these parts with motors that I purchased and overhauled. I also bought diaphragms, gasket material, Edison belting and 1000's of three sizes of needles. Some parts I made myself or had cast for me. I rarely was stuck for parts to service a machine. Hardly ever did I let a collector down needing parts.

After having several angina heart attacks in 1972, I decided I had better liquidate my collections. So I sold nearly all my phonographs, music boxes and telephones. I turned over most of my repairs to Don Woodrow who, being mechanically inclined, picked up the knowledge to repair machines. Another member of CAPS, Tim McPherson, is also handy at repairing most phonographs.

I'm now nearly 76 years of age and with my heart condition I decided to sell all my phonograph parts. I attempted to sell them locally but no one who was capable of doing the repairs had the capital to buy them. So I advertised them in Antique Phonograph Monthly and had several replies. Unfortunately most were from California or the lower states and the costs to transport the parts would have been too great. I had one reply from a collector in Michigan who raised the necessary capital and on November 29, 1985 he came to Scarborough and picked them up. He is a member of the Michigan Antique Phonograph Society and has been repairing machines of his own and some collectors's and antique dealer's. He was limited only by lack of parts and now he can help his fellow members of the Michigan society. I wish him good luck with them. I was sorry to see them leave Canada but it couldn't be helped. He left my home all smiles like he had just found buried treasure.

I'm going to miss helping our members with their purchases that needed some repairs and parts. But all good things must come to an end some time. Maybe now I can clean up part of my cellar and garage!