Edison phonograph for sale - some tips before purchase

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Edison must have loved the common cylinder phonograph because he made so many of them.

Over three quarter million of these rugged machines were manufactured, meaning that if you're looking for an Edison phonograph for sale you should find something available that suits your taste and budget.

Standards and Homes were two inexpensive models and are still quite plentiful. If all you want is something funky and functional to sit in your living room either should serve you well. Because all Edison phonographs used a set of common reproducers (soundboxes) the sound from the least expensive machine and the most expensive machine should be pretty much the same, the difference between models being esthetics and the type of motor. If you are a conoisseur of music then you might want to consider one of the later, acoustically superior models equipped with a cygnet horn or if your finances allow it you might consider the air-tight Edison Opera.

For starters, you might check out the relevant sections of our website to see what we are offering in outside horn and internal horn cylinder Edisons. Don't give up if you don't see exactly what you want. We have many machines not listed on the website, so you might want to contact us so that we can fix you up with the perfect match.

Five quick tips on purchasing an Edison phonograph for sale

1. Is the machine complete? All spring motor Edisons should come with a lid and reproducer. The reproducer is the soundbox, the part that holds the needle. You can examine the motor by unscrewing the crank and lifting up on the slats that support the bedplate.

2. Is the reproducer complete? The reproducer is the heart of the machine. If you see a giant hole in the middle of the carriage your prospective purchase is missing the reproducer. A good original reproducer will set you back at least $125. The reproducer comes in two parts, bonded with a hinge pin: a front housing with a tube type extension, and a back part that looks a little like a fish tail. The fish tail is often stamped with a model number, such as 'Model C.' If you don't see the fish tail you may have to purchase an entire replacement reproducer.

3. What's the finish like? It's always a joy to receive a machine with nice original finish and decal, and the rarer your Edison phonograph for sale is, the more a detriment the lack of original finish becomes.

4. Is the machine working? Place a gentle resistance upon the crank and try to wind it just until you feel the spring push back. If you don't feel any resistance at all you may have a broken spring, which could be an expensive repair. Try flicking the on-off switch and see what happens. You should hear a mild whir-r-r from the motor, if the spring has sufficient tension.

5. No horn? No problem! Probably the majority of these machines were sold with 14" brass and black horns, which were lost over the years. My theory is that these little horns went into the workshop and were used as funnels. Also, many Edison phonographs were sold by the dealer with optional or aftermarket horns. Reproduction 14" horns have been available for years, or, if you prefer, I can fix you up with a beautiful morning glory horn.

Any Edison phonograph for sale that has sat untouched for a hundred years is most likely going to need some cleaning and adjustment and possibly a reproducer rebuilding. This is what I routinely do to our machines, and I stand behind them and guarantee them. Beware of machines advertised as 'completely restored,' whatever that means, and it commonly means only that the cabinet has been poorly refinished. No sane person is going to disassemble and clean every component and remove and regrease the spring unless it's necessary, simply because they will never get their labor back in extra dollars.

Below are images of some commmon Edison models, along with notes of frequently seen problem areas.

Edison Standard
Edison Standard Phonograph, Models A and B

Reproducer stylus and intergrity. Bull gear. Governor weights.
Edison Model D Standard
Edison Standard Phonograph, Model D

Reproducer stylus and integrity. Bull gear and No. 1 gear in gear train. Governor weights. Mandrel bearing.
Edison Home phonograph Model A
Edison Home Phonograph, Models A and B

Reproducer stylus and intergrity. Bull gear. 12 tooth brass gear. Feed screw.
Edison Home
Edison Home Phonograph, Model D

Reproducer stylus and integrity. Bull gear. 12 tooth brass gear. Feed screw. Mandrel bearing. Mainspring. Wear in the sun and planet reduction gearing.
Edison Triumph
Edison Triumph Phonograph, Models A and B

Reproducer stylus and integrity. Feed screw. All gearing in gear train. Lower belt pulley.
Model D Triumph
Edison Triumph Phonograph, Models D

Reproducer stylus and integrity. All gearing. Lower belt pulley. Feed screw. Mandrel bearing.
Edison Fireside
Edison Fireside Phonograph, Models A and B

Reproducer stylus and integrity. Bull gear and No. 1 gear in gear train. Mandrel assembly with pulley and gear
Edison Gem
Edison Gem Phonograph

Reproducer stylus and integrity. Mainspring. Lower pulley and tensioner. Bent shafts in gear train. Mandrel with pulley and gear.
Edison Concert
Edison Concert Phonograph

See Edison Triumph.

For an abbreviated history of the Edison phonograph, see our Edison phonograph history and tutorial
For a quick guide to the identification of the most common Edison phonograph models, see our Edison phonograph models.
Copyright 2015 Lynn Bilton

Lynn Bilton
Box 435
Randolph,OH 44265
330 325-7866


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