As many of you know, especially those of you trying to hunt down those choice Paramount blues sides from the late ’20s, a record doesn’t have to be old to be rare and desirable. It’s just a matter of whether the maker of the record stayed in business long enough or had any kind of market reach.
Behold the case of the American Talking Machine (ATM) Company, maker of the Vitaphone talking machine and bright red-brick-colored seven-inch Vitaphone discs to go with it. This company was the second business to challenge Berliner’s Gramophone flat discs. The first, Wonder records, made in 1898 by the Standard Talking Machine Company, were obvious pirates of Berliner discs and Standard was quickly sued out of existence. Good luck finding one of these discs today. The ATM Company, however, was buoyed up by the patents of the American Graphophone Company (all licensed to Columbia)—which gave them a little more time to penetrate the market in late 1899.