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Canadian Antique Phonograph Society

Jan-Feb 2007

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Items found in phonograph cabinets that I purchased
by Bob Nix

Welcome to another new year. I hear people say, "Where does the time go?" It seems like we are spinning out of control and we should grab that speed control and slow us down a few RPM. We must take time to enjoy the sounds of Mother Nature.

I thought I would take a moment and tell you some of the interesting items that I’ve found inside of phonograph cabinets that I have taken apart and worked on.

1. Slid way down behind the record shelf at the back, I found two books measuring 7 x 10 inches, with about 30 pages. They are both in mint condition. The first book was titled "Soybeans In Ontario", dated February 1940, put out by the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario. It is full of everything you want to know about growing soybeans. The second book was titled "Alfalfa For Hay, Silage and Pasture", put out by the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, dated May 1942. It contains many photos of primitive farming practices, with horses and steel-wheel tractors working the fields.

2. A book of matches in good condition with 2/3 of the matches left. It’s from a southern fried chicken restaurant called "Pick’s Grill", located in Buffalo, N.Y – phone number is WA-5877, in case you might want to go. On the cover is a scantily dressed young blonde (sorry guys, her number wasn’t provided!).

3. Rundle’s Liniment Salve. Price is 35 cents or three boxes for one dollar. It says it can be used for stock, cuts, scratches, collar and saddle galls, bruises, sore teats on cows and caked udder. (did the farmer use it to lubricate the phonograph spring?)

4. One of my most interesting finds was the day I purchased a collection of phonographs from a man in his 80’s. As my young son and I were carrying one of the phonographs out, we heard a thump from inside the record storage compartment. My son said, "Dad, what was that? Maybe it’s a stash of money inside?" When we got home he went to investigate the noise and as he was pulling a box out he said, "It’s a pot of gold." It was - a "Pot of Gold" chocolate box. He said, "Dad, it’s very heavy." When he took the lid off we found 53 rolls of old coins rolled up. The next day I called up the owner and told him what we found and the line went quiet for a moment. Then he said, "Oh my goodness, I forgot that they were there. Many years ago I would roll my coins and stash them in that old phonograph, and I forgot about them." All the coins were returned to him on my next trip back to his area.

5. One day I purchased a Brunswick phonograph from an older lady. After I had paid for it, and just before I took it out of her house, I told her that Brunswicks have a very nice-sounding oval horn. I removed the grill to show her. To our surprise, stuck inside the horn were two small, very old matching lamps. She said, "My oh my. I’ve been looking for those lamps for years and forgot where I stuck them." I pulled them out and handed them to her. She was very grateful.

6. Another time I was doing a total restoration on a phonograph and everything was taken apart, exposing areas that you normally don’t see. At the base of the cast-iron horn I found a metal can and a bag neatly tied up with string. Again my thoughts go to money. When I removed the lid from the can, I found pieces of an old jigsaw puzzle. I thought for sure there would be money inside this neatly tied bag. After I carefully untied the string, I looked inside and guess what? More jigsaw pieces.

7. One day I purchased an Edison Diamond Disc machine. When I got it home, I started to search inside the horn area. I found an envelope, which was tacked to the side of the cabinet but had fallen down. I opened it and found the original instructions on how to unpack and set up the phonograph. Also there were complete operating instructions and a maintenance book. I believe I was the first person to open this since it was shipped from the factory.

Maybe you have some interesting stories to tell. Write them down and send them to our editor. Who knows, maybe he will print them if you have something unique. Til next time, grab that dial, slow it down and make sure we are travelling at a speed that we can enjoy life.