Beautifully engraved certificate from the Emerson Phonograph Company
in 1915. This historic document was printed by the Franklin - Lee Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an eagle. This item is hand signed by the Company’s President ( Victor Emerson ) and Secretary and is
over 92 years old.
Victor Emerson founded Emerson Phonograph Company in 1915 after having worked for Columbia records for 17 years. Victor Emerson's entered the Talking Book Market in 1919. The records were manufactured by a process invented by Victor Emerson (patent #1,399,757) covering "a tablet made in imitation of the appearance of a well-known animate or inanimate object and comprising a phonographic record that can reproduce sounds which the hearer generally associates with that object."
The Talking Book line included "talking dolls" and "talking animals," records laminated to colorful die-cut figures, like the example above.
Emerson Records was a record label active in the United States of America between 1916 to 1928. Emerson Records produced between the 1910s and early 1920s offered generally above average audio fidelity for the era, pressed in high quality shellac. The fidelity of the later issues compares less favorably. Emerson was founded by Victor H. Emerson who had worked for Columbia Records since the 1890s. In 1916 he began his namesake company, producing 7-inch gramophone record that sold for 25 cents each and 5˝-inch discs that sold for 10 cents each.
Early 7-inch Emerson Record in its original paper sleeve.Early fare included popular tunes, dance numbers and patriotic marches, mostly recorded by small groups of unnamed musicians hired in New York City. They were credited as the "Emerson Orchestra" or sometimes grandly, "The Emerson Symphony Orchestra". In January of 1918 Emerson added a line of 9-inch records that sold for 75 cents. After World War I, Emerson began an ambitious expansion of the business, and in 1919 it finally introduced a line of 10-inch discs (the common industry standard) that retailed for 85 cents (rising to $1 each the following year).
The year 1919 saw the debut of a series of 12-inch Emerson discs, mostly of Classical music, retailing for $1.25. At the same time, more popular "big name" artists were hired to record for the label including Wilbur Sweatman, Eddie Cantor, the Six Brown Brothers, and the Louisiana Five. Somewhat later, the label also recorded Lizzie Miles, Eubie Blake, Fletcher Henderson, and the Original Memphis Five.
Other noteworthy artists who recorded for Emerson included John W. Myers, Henry Burr and The Peerless Quartet, Billy Golden, Collins & Harlan, Sally Hamlin, Dan Quinn, Sam Ash, Vernon Dalhart, Van & Schenk, Ada Jones, and Homer Rodeheaver.
In May of 1920, Emerson opened a second recording studio in Los Angeles, California. Emerson's expansions over-extended the company finances and forced it into receivership in 1921. In May of 1922 investors Benjamin Abrams and Rudolph Kararek purchased the Emerson Company for $50,000 and raised an additional $200,000 of capital to revive the business. Emerson records were then sold for 50 cents each. In 1924 the investors sold Emerson to the Scranton Button Company of Scranton, Pennsylvania. About this time, electric microphones replaced mechanical recording techniques, and Emerson switched to the new method of sound recording in 1926. Scranton Button Co. halted production of new records by its Emerson subsidiary in 1928, but the company retained the name and later applied it to a line of radios.
The company also marketed "race records" (that is, records recorded by and marketed to African Americans).