The Big Sleuth

Aquestion mark few months back, a friend of ours returned from a cross-country trip. He had attended a phonograph and record show while away and was having his purchases shipped to his home. One of the lots he bought was a box of “shavers”: heavily molded cylinders, too damaged to be played or enjoyed, and generally so noisy you can’t even make out what is on them. Some collectors will pick these up and shave them down to pristine brown wax and use them for new recordings. You can usually get these for a few bucks apiece.

Well, the box was not packed very well, and when it arrived, most of the contents were smashed to bits. A couple survived. On close inspection, one of them looked to have a bit more modulation than David remembered. Hopeful, he transferred it and sent us the audio file and asked if we could make out what it is.

After some work, we got it, and it’s something we’ll be using on an upcoming project. Now, we’re asking you to join in the sleuthing fun. Here’s the first half of the record. Can you tell what this is?

A couple of hints. First of all, it’s commercial brown wax, so it can’t be any later than about 1902, but 1890s is more likely.

Secondly, you might want to be sitting down in case you do figure it out….


2 thoughts on “The Big Sleuth

  1. This cylinder is a Columbia brown wax cylinder from around c.1893-96, as from what I heard from the announcement, I heard ” record taken for the Columbia Phonograph Company of Washington D.C.” That’s all I got for now.

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