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Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company ( Earliest Known Talking Doll) - 1880 - SOLD
|Beautifully engraved SCARCE stock certificate from Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company issued in 1890. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company, New York and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of Santa Claus and his reindeer. This item has the signatures of the Company’s President, William W. Jacques and Secretary, Daniel Weld.|
The Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company was incorporated in Maine in 1887 and maintained offices in Boston and New York. It sold phonograph dolls using Edison's phonograph patents. The business was closed in 1895.
Edison had envisioned the idea of a talking doll as early as 1877, but it was another inventor, William W. Jacques, who first developed a prototype based on Edison's original tinfoil phonograph. Jacques and his partner Lowell Briggs founded the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company in 1887 with Edison agreeing to lend his name to the planned product in return for royalties and stock ownership. Before production began, however, Edison took over the company, demoting the founder and leading to years of ill-will and lawsuits.
Edison's Talking Doll was an historic step in phonograph history -- the first phonograph marketed for home entertainment, with a pre-recorded cylinder. The doll stands 22" high and weighs four pounds, with a metal body, articulated wooden limbs, and an imported Simon and Halbig #719 bisque head. The original price was $10 with a simple chemise, and $20-$25 with full dress. This was a huge sum for the time, equal to about two weeks salary for the average person.
The phonograph inside the body of the doll was tiny, with a small horn pointing up toward holes in the doll's chest. Cylinders were not interchangeable. There was no spring motor so the child was expected to turn the crank by hand at a steady speed in order for the doll to recite the six-second pre-recorded nursery rhyme. (Edison was later quoted as admitting that "the voices of the little monsters were exceedingly unpleasant to hear.") Unfortunately the delicate mechanism was too fragile for rough usage, and the steel stylus caused the wax record to wear out extremely rapidly.
Early Ad for Doll
The first dolls were offered for sale on April 7, 1890. Although 2,500 had been shipped by Edison to the Toy Manufacturing Company in March, less than 500 completed dolls were actually sold and most of those were returned by unhappy customers. Production ceased at the beginning of May, 1890 and the dolls were withdrawn from the market. Returned dolls, along with the large remaining stocks of unsold dolls at the Edison factory, were sold off cheaply with the phonographs removed. All Edison dolls are very scarce today but those with their original phonograph intact are extremely rare, with only a few survivors known to exist.
April 26, 1890 - Scientific American article entitled "Edison's Phonographic Doll"
The new "talking doll industry," established upon the basis of the Edison phonograph, has reached such proportions as to entitle it to more than a passing notice. At Orange, N. J.,. within a short walk of the world-renowned laboratory of Edison, are located a number of buildings occupying a ground space of many acres, in which over 500 people are engaged in the manufacture of the phonograph in its two principal forms, one of which is the commercial instruument repeatedly descibed in our columns, the other the phonographic doll, which we now present to our readers for the first time. This interesting toy forms an attractive object at the the Exhibition of the Wonders of Electricity now in progerss at the Lenox Lyceum, in this city.
As near as we can judge from a tour of the works, about one-half of the plant is devoted to the doll industry. Necessarily much of the mechanism of the doll is made in the regular phonograph works; but the adjustments, the manufacture of the record cylinders which determine the story which the doll shall tell, as well as the packing and shpping, are all conducted in an extensive buiding exclusively devoted to the manufacture of talking doll.
The finished doll, shown in the upper left hand figure of our engraving, has the same appearance as other dolls; but its body is made of tin, and the interior thereof is filled with mechanism very much like that of the commercial phonograph, but of course much more simple and inexpensive.
The cylinder of the phonograph of the talking doll is mounted on a sleeve which slides upon the shaft, the sleeve being screw-threaded so as to cause the cylinder to move lengthwise of the shaft. A key is provided by which the cylinder may be thrown out of engagement with the segmental nut, and a spiral spring is provided for returning the cylinder to the point of starting. The cylinder carries a ring of wax-like material, upon which is recorded the speech or song to be repeated by the doll. Upon the same shaft with the record cylinder there is a large pulley wich carries a belt for driving the flywheel shaft at the lower part of the phonographic apparatus. The key is fitted to the main shaft, by which the phonographic cylinder is rotated, and the flywheel tends to maintain a uniform speed.
Picture of Talking Doll
Above the record cylinder is arranged a diaphragm, such as is used in the regular phonograph, carrying a reproducing stylus, which is mounted on a lever in the same manner as the regular phonograph. The funnel at the top of the phonographic aparatus opens underneath the breast of the doll, which is perforated to permit the sound to escape. By the simple operation o turning the crank any child can make the doll say "Mary had a little lamb," "Jack and Jill," or whatever is was, so to speak, taught to say in the phonograph factory.
In passing through the works it is noticeable that order and system reign in every department. Everything is done upon the American, or "piece," system. The tools and machinery here used are the finest procurable. Every piece without regard to its size or importance is carefully inspected by aid of standard gauges, so that when the parts are brought together, no additional work is required to cause them to act properly.
The works of the doll are to some extent adjustable, and any adjustment necessary is effected in an extensive department in which the little phonographs are received form the assembling rooms. Here they receive the finishing touches, and are passed on to another room where they are placed in the bodies of the dolls. From this department the finished dolls pass on to the packing room, where they are carefully stored away in boxes having on their labels the name of the story the doll is able to repeat. This department is illustrated below in our engraving.
This engraving shows the manner of preparing the wax-like records for the phonographic dolls. They are placed upon an instrument very much like an ordinary phonograph, and in the mouth of which a girls speaks the words to be repeated by the doll. A large number of these girls are continually doing this work. Each one has a stall to herself, and the jangle produced by a number of girls simultaneously repeating, "Mary had a little lamb," "Jack and Jill," "Little Bo-peep," and other interesting stories is beyond description. These sounds united with the sounds of the phonographs themselves when reproducing the stories make a veritable pandemonium.
The manufacture of this interesting toy calls into requisition the skill of mechanics in almost every branch, and is has necessitated the construction of new tools which are interesting of themselves. Mr. Batchelor, engineer of the Edison laboratory and works, and Mr. English, manager of the phonograph works, are continually devising means for facilitating the manufacture of these interesting toys. The factory has at present a capacity for making about 500 talking dolls a day.
Timeline: Edison's Life
1847 Thomas Alva Edison born on February 11 in Milan, Ohio.
1854 Edison's family moves to Port Huron, Michigan.
1859 Edison takes job selling newspapers and candy on the Grand Trunk Railway.
1862 Edison begins work as a telegraph operator in Port Huron.
1863 Edison obtains telegraph job for the Grand Trunk Railway in Ontario.
Edison returns to the U.S. in the fall and goes from city to city as a telegraph operator.
1869 Edison arrives in New York City and eventually gets job at Laws' Gold Indicator Co after fixing the company's stock ticker.
Edison receives patent in June for his first invention, an electric vote recorder.
1870 Edison opens his first workshop in Newark, New Jersey.
1871 Edison marries Mary Stilwell on December 25.
1873 Edison's daughter, Marion Estelle ("Dot"), is born.
1876 Edison moves to Menlo Park, New Jersey, and establishes laboratory.
Edison's son, Thomas Alva, Jr ("Dash"), is born on January 10.
1877 Edison invents carbon telephone transmitter, extending the clarity and range of the telephone.
Edison develops tin foil cylinder phonograph; files patent for it on December 24 which is awarded on February 19, 1878.
1878 Edison Speaking Phonograph Co incorporated April 24.
Edison's son, William Leslie, is born on October 26.
1878-79 Edison devises an electric incandescent light bulb that lasts for more than 13 hours.
1879 Organizes the Edison Ore Milling Company.
1880 Edison discovers phenomenon which is later termed the "Edison Effect".
1881 Edison creates the Edison Electric Lamp Co, the Edison Machine Works and other companies to produce his electric lighting system.
1882 Edison opens a commercial electric station in New York City with approximately 85 customers.
The Menlo Park laboratory is closed, and another instituted in New York City.
1884 Edison's wife, Mary, dies on August 9.
1886 Patent awarded to Chichester A. Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter for their wax cylinder graphophone; Edison later refuses to collaborate with them on the invention.
Edison marries Mina Miller on February 24.
Moves his laboratory to East Newark, New Jersey.
1887 Edison develops the New Phonograph, using a wax cylinder.
Edison Phonograph Co formed in October.
Edison moves to a larger and more modern laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey.
1888 Edison meets Eadweard Muybridge, who shows him his zoopraxiscope; Edison sets William K. L. Dickson and other assistants to work to make a Kinetoscope, "an instrument which does for the Eye what the phonograph does for the Ear".
Improved Phonograph introduced, followed by the Perfected Phonograph.
Edison's daughter, Madeleine, is born on May 31.
Jesse H. Lippincott assumes control of phonograph companies by forming the North American Phonograph Co on July 14; leases phonographs as dictation machines.
Edison files his first caveat(a Patent Office document in which one declares his work on a particular invention in anticipation of filing a patent application) on the Kinetoscope and Kinetograph on October 8; William Kennedy Laurie Dickson assigned to work on project.
1889 Edison produces dolls with tiny cylinders inside to make them talk for the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Co; project ceases in March 1891.
Edison General Electric formed in April.
Edison Manufacturing Co is organized.
1890 Lippincott becomes ill and loses control of North American Phonograph Co to Edison, its principal creditor.
Edison's son, Charles, is born on August 3.
1891 A peep-hole viewing machine shown by Edison on May 20 to participants from the National Federation of Women's Clubs.
1892 Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston merge into General Electric.
1893 Construction on a film studio known to Edison employees as the "Black Maria" completed in February; earliest Edison motion pictures were filmed there.
First public demonstration of Edison's 1 1/2" system of Kinetoscope at the Brooklyn Institute on May 9.
Copyright registered to William KL Dickson for sample kinetoscope records on October 6.
1894 Edison declares bankruptcy for the North American Phonograph Co
Applications submitted to U.S. Patent Office for the Kinetograph and the Kinetoscope.
First Kinetoscope parlor opened in midtown Manhattan on April 14.
Edison puts the Edison Manufacturing Co in charge of the manufacture and sale of Kinetoscopes and films on April 1.
1894-95 Edison and Dickson experiment to synchronize sound with film; the Kinetophone is invented which loosely synchronizes a Kinetoscope image with a cylinder phonograph.
1895 The Edison Spring Motor Phonograph appears.
Dickson leaves Edison's employ on April 2.
C Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat demonstrate their Phantoscope, a motion picture projector, in Atlanta, Georgia, in late September to early October.
1896 Edison forms the National Phonograph Co with the purpose of manufacturing phongraphs for home use on January 27.
Spring Motor Phonograph is released under aegis of the National Phonograph Co, followed by the Edison Home Phonograph.
Edison negotiates in January with Raff & Gammon to manufacture the Phantoscope which Armat presents as his own invention; machine is renamed the Vitascope in February, and Edison's name put on it.
Vitascope publicly exhibited at Koster & Bial's Music Hall on April 23 to great acclaim.
The company begins practice of copyrighting its films on October 23 by sending short pieces of positive nitrate film from the motion pictures to the Library of Congress.
Edison distances himself from agreement with Raff & Gammon; introduces the Projecting Kinetoscope or Projectoscope on November 30 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
1897 Edison Standard Phonograph manufactured.
Edison begins to send positive paper prints of motion pictures for copyright deposit to the Library of Congress in August.
James White hired to head Kinetograph Department at the Edison Manufacturing Co in October.
Edison begins legal battles in December that continue for the following year against other producers and exhibitors whom he charges with infringement.
1898 Spanish-American War occurs; Edison Company sends cameraman to Cuba to film scenes of war.
Edison's son, Theodore Miller, is born on July 10.
1899 Edison Concert Phonograph introduced.
1900 Edison Manufacturing Co incorporated on May 5.
Edwin S Porter hired by Edison Co in November to work with film equipment; he later becomes the company's most famous director.
1901 Process for mass-producing duplicate wax cylinders put into effect; they are known as Gold Moulded cylinders.
A new film studio for the Edison Co in New York is completed in January; this is the nation's first indoor, glass-enclosed studio.
U.S. Circuit Court recognizes Edison's motion picture patent claims in his suit in July; American Mutoscope & Biograph Company appeals decision.
Edison cameras are present at Pan-American Exposition when President McKinley is shot by an assassin.
1902 Circuit Court's decision reversed on March 10 by Court of Appeals, which essentially disallows Edison having a monopoly on motion picture apparatus.
1903 One of the most famous early films, The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S Porter, is filmed during November.
1905 Business Phonograph introduced.
Nickelodeons become popular in Chicago and later spread to other urban areas.
1908 Amberol Record introduced; the cylinder could play as long as four minutes, twice as long as previous cylinders.
Association of Edison Licensees and Film Service Association formed; Motion Picture Patents Co formed from it later to include Biograph licensees.
New Edison film studio opened in the Bronx, New York, June-July.
1909 Edwin S. Porter fired on November 10.
1910 Company reorganized into Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
1911 Edison Disc Phonograph shown in public for the first time.
1912 Edison Disc Phonograph put on sale.
Blue Amberol introduced, an unbreakable cylinder with superior sound.
1913 Kinetophone is introduced, which attempts to synchronize motion pictures with a phonograph cylinder record.
1915 Kinetophone abandoned.
Tone tests for Diamond Discs introduced.
Motion Picture Patents Co found guilty of antitrust violation on October 1.
Edison named head of the Naval Consulting Board.
1917 American involvement in World War I begins; Edison creates Army and Navy Model of the Disc Phonograph.
1918 Motion picture studio ceases production in February; studio sold on March 30 to the Lincoln & Parker Film Co
1926 Edison resigns as president of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., and becomes chairman of the board; his son, Charles takes over as president.
1928 Edison takes over Aplitdorf-Bethlehem Electrical Co, a move which allows him to manufacture radios.
Edison awarded Congressional gold metal for his many contributions.
1929 Edison makes programs for radio on long-playing discs; first used by radio station WAAM of Newark, New Jersey, on April 4.
Edison Portable Disc Phonograph with New Edison Needle Records introduced.
Orders given on October 21 to close the Edison disc business.
1931 Edison dies in West Orange on October 18.
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