Edison Spring Motor



This article is part of the ANTIQUE PHONOGRAPH, GRAMOPHONE AND TALKING MACHINE IDENTIFICATION GUIDES.
SEE ALSO: Our listings of outside horn talking machines for sale.


The need for a smooth and reliable power supply was one of the most vexing problems of the early phonograph industry. House current was not available, and the cumbersome wet cells of the early Edison electrics did not provide a long-lasting solution. The spring powered music box had been available as early as the 1840s, but the music box motor did not prove easily adaptable to the phonograph. Pioneers such as Greenhill in England and Edward Amet in Chicago had been working on spring motors in the early 1890s.

Frank Capps, an Edison employee, patented a spring motor in 1895, the rights to which were assigned to the United State Phonograph Company (Edison). This Triton motor, which owed much to Amet, was a watershed development in the history of the phonograph, for at last a phonograph could be placed in every home and business.

The Capps motor was fitted in a machine simply called the Spring Motor (Class SM), usually marked with a nickel plate announcing 'Spring Motor for Phonograph'. It probably first went on sale in 1896 at a cost of $100. (Early Spring Motors are marked United States.) The Edison Spring Motor continued until 1901, when the case was redesigned and the machine morphed into the Edison Triumph.

Edison Spring Motor Phonograph
The first practical Edison spring motor machine, named appropriately if not originally Spring Motor. The cylinder is obscuring a brass mandrel.
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Edison Spring Motor For Phonograph
Note the deep and all-enveloping lid.
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