The Zonophone held an important place in the history of recorded sound. It was developed in 1899 as an alternative to Berliner's Gramophone, which until then had held a monopoly in the disc talking machine field. In fact, the smooth-running little spring motor developed by Zonophone was much better than the Berliner motor for which Eldridge R. Johnson has received such fame. That ground-breaking same motor is found in this charming example.

Whereas the Berliner motor was "linear" -- the gears were lined up laterally -- Zonophone's motor was "stacked" (the future model for all talking machine motors). Instead of the balky, clunky governor that afflicted the Berliner, Zonophone substituted a sleek, smooth, precision governor. And the motor was more compact and technically sophisticated., an integral parts of the top plate of the cabinet.

Viewed from above, the motor plate has the brand name in ornate Roman and Cyrillic letters! Why? Zonophone had international connections and pretensions. Frederick Prescott ran the International Zonophone Company in Europe, and Zonophone sold its instruments in Eastern Europe and Russia. The serial number can be seen, stamped at the upper edge of the motor plate in this image.

In fact, everything about this Zonophone is elegantly designed. So much more thought and skill and style has gone into the creation of this instrument than a similar early Victor ":front-mounted" talking machine. For instance, the original winding crank, with it's sinuous visual flow. Or the turntable brake with its swooping arc.

Or the oak cabinet, with its multi-tiered design, like a ziggurat. The cabinet finish is original, a lovely shade of medium oak that is characteristic of Zonophone cabinets. The decal is also original.

Both of the arms are original. The horn is original. The black paint on the horn is original. Once again, note the gentle curve of the support arm that attaches to the top plate.

The soundbox (needlehead) is a high-quality replica, made to the exact specifications of the Zonophone "V" Concert. It produces loud, bright and clear music. It is an exact copy.

On the 7" diameter turntable is this little retractable "pin" to the side of the center spindle. It has its origins in the initial competition between the Zonophone and Berliner. The Berliner Grampophone used a round, threaded metal washer or plate that screwed down over the record to hold it from slipping on the turntable. This, of course was a pain to remove and replace every time one changed the record. To simplify matters, Zonophone devised the spring-loaded pin. On the blank, reverse sides of early Zonophone records was a small indentation in which this pin rested, securing the record from slipping. The beauty of it is that Berliner (or any other) records could be used on the Zonophone with no interference because the pin simply withdrew. Eventually, they realized that the soft felt on the turntable was siddicient to hold the record in place, no additional affixing was required.

This rare and fascinating instrument was developed at a time when disc records were exclusively 7" in diameter. By 1903, Zonophone had introduced 9" records, however, the motor was designed for "small" records. We installed a new mainspring, and, amazingly, the machine, if fully would up, will just make it through a clean, non-worn, acoustic 10" record. We do not recommend it for people who want to play multiple, multiple 10" records, it was not designed for that. We are giving three 7" Emerson discs (double sided) with the instrument, and we have available other Emerson discs at $18. each. 

The Zonophone "Home" -- diminutive, delightful, adorable -- a special feast for the eye. Original factory finish and decal. The history of recorded sound embodied!

Price: $1250.00 US,  plus shipping and handling. (NY State residents must pay sales tax, if applicable.)


Telephone: 585-244-5546


               PO Box 747

               Henrietta, NY 14467 USA

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