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The original edison patent for the process of recording and playing back sound was issued in 1877, and although a small number of phonographs for exhibition and home use were made during the late 1870s and 1880s, it wasn't until the late 1880s that edison turned his attention to perfecting the phonograph. Return to tinfoil resource center index the following selections provide more detailed information on wax cylinder dating: summary table for dating cylinders by cylinder type and playback speed edison cylinders date before mid-1902 if brown wax and afterwards if black wax many brown wax titles were reissued after 1902 as black wax. In 1912, columbia records, which had been selling both discs and cylinders, dropped the cylinder format, while edison introduced his unique diamond disc format beginning in 1915, new edison cylinder issues were simply dubs of edison discs and therefore had lower audio quality than the disc originals.
Brown wax cylinder represent the 'archetype' of an edison wax cylinder and were first made in 1888 however, the first wax cylinders are not to be credited to edison but are based on the development by chichester bell and charles sumner tainter, financed by alexander graham bell 1884 was the fateful year where both developers came to the idea of using a wax composition instead of the common. The other is in the parts of edison cylinder phonographs dated september 1, 1913 showing the standard model g on page 10 interestingly, the model e is not mentioned at all interestingly, the model e is not mentioned at all.
Edison phonograph works, north american phonograph company cylinder, circa 1890-1894, the first link to the history of professional recorded music notice channeled rim, that originally received a paper label noting song and performer, and north american branch even some early 1889-1894 columbia. Although the edison company (it was the national phonograph company until renamed thomas a edison, inc, around 1910) was not the only company to make cylinders thomas a edison started it all and dominated the cylinder market, so i will refer to edison cylinders often. Edison two minute cylinder boxes have a unique history of there own which closely follows the many changes and improvements in edison's cylinder mfg from the earliest brown wax cylinders up to.
Perhaps creating a similar form for edison phonographs (cylinder and disc players) and then having it sent out to all the phonograph forums would be a worthwhile endeavor undoubtedly there are plenty of folks on the various forums who can help you draft and edit these forms.
Dave - if your edison is an early home with the banner on the lid, i can probably help you otherwise, martin's advice is best from production details, most any edison cylinder phonograph can be dated to at least within a year or two of its production date.