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Stephen Chambers

James Collis Bird - 1898 Concertina Record

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Well, it used to be dead easy: when I once had the privilege of physically seeing the vast store of EMI's discs while they were at Uxbridge in a large warehouse with movable shelving, they were all in very long rows in catalogue number order. I don't know how they are currently stored back at Hayes, but it would not surprise me to know that they are 'split up'. The archive apparently had some interesting delays in moving because the shelving designed for the metal parts (shells, etc) started to collapse -- the designers had fondly assumed that the loading would be so many tons per bay, rather than per shelf :rolleyes:

 

Since I was involved slightly in the original email correspondence on E9105, I gather that one of the problems when looking for it was originally that the archive people were looking for 9015, which should be (and indeed proved to be) a piccolo recording: the KCL information seems incorrect? mis-transcribed? At that time (February 2014) EMI did come up with a scan of E9105, showing that they had certainly had a copy of it to hand at some stage.

Edited by pga

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Well, we now have a confirmation (Gaisberg's boat in 1898) and some new information (the Gramophone Company's Steinway).

 

I went to the National Archives armed with some contrary evidence and after several minutes' persistent argument eventually managed to persuade them that their online database was indeed incorrect, due to muddled digitised images or even muddled original documents. They then had to admit that they would have to order up the originals in order to check, which they have now done, confirming that the online images are muddled (and hence also the database entries). So Gaisberg's boat was indeed the Umbria, as he stated (and as I confirmed in 1995). The Archives say also that Ancestry acknowledge the problem -- but I can well see that the Archives will now be faced with the unhappy task of ensuring the integrity of their scanned image collection online...

 

I also went along to Steinway Hall, and looked at their ledger book for this period: and there it was -- Gramophone Company! Unfortunately (but understandably) it seems that the piano was at first only hired, and then marked as 'Sold from hire' with the only date marked being as late as 1902 and no date of first hire being given. However, the piano had come over from Hamburg in May 1898, so it was certainly available to the GramCo from the start of studio operations. Some remaining doubt naturally attaches to the timing of its delivery at Maiden Lane: it seems to me quite possible that Gaisberg had to make do with the hotel piano to start with (perhaps one already left in the hotel's 'old smoking-room') and so the arrival of the new (hired) piano could well coincide with a visit by Percy Honri, as Christopher Stone reported. Gaisberg would surely have insisted on having a piano of impeccable reliability -- and American, to boot -- and so a spot of 'jamming' could well have been his celebration of its arrival :lol:

 

Alas, I think it very unlikely that we'll find anything at Hayes to record piano hire, and it seems even less likely that a change of piano would be discernible via the primitive 1898 recording quality! So we'll have to be content with a partial result, I'm afraid...

Edited by pga

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Thanks for all your efforts, Peter. At least we've got a clearer idea of Fred Gaisberg's arrival now, so we can pin down dates more clearly, and see why recent research has managed to get things muddled.

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New information about Maiden Lane: 'tradition' has it (since 1973!) that the Gramophone Company's first recording studio was 'in the basement' at 31 Maiden Lane -- something that has always bothered me, judging by the two famous surviving photographs of the time.

 

From these two pictures, architects' plans of the building, and two old accounts (including the well-known one by Landon Ronald re Emma Calvé), I have now proved that the studio was not in the pokey basement but in the very large room with tall windows overlooking the street -- on the first floor.

 

My article is in CLPGS journal For the Record 56, Winter 2015, pp.448–456.

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Well done Peter, and thanks. I'd missed your July posting until now, but I guess you've done as much as can possibly be achieved in untangling the Percy Honri "first recording" issue, and what a pity the Steinway Hall ledger isn't any more helpful... (though it was still worth checking.)

 

I like your suggestion about the "jam session" when the new Steinway finally got delivered - that could certainly explain the later confusion!

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New information about Maiden Lane: 'tradition' has it (since 1973!) that the Gramophone Company's first recording studio was 'in the basement' at 31 Maiden Lane -- something that has always bothered me, judging by the two famous surviving photographs of the time.

 

From these two pictures, architects' plans of the building, and two old accounts (including the well-known one by Landon Ronald re Emma Calvé), I have now proved that the studio was not in the pokey basement but in the very large room with tall windows overlooking the street -- on the first floor.

 

My article is in CLPGS journal For the Record 56, Winter 2015, pp.448–456.

Peter's article mentioned above is 'Part 1' and 'Part 2' has now been published in the current issue (Autumn 2016) . You can obtain copies of these two journals from the CLPGS . In Part 2, Peter has done an amazing job analysing photos from Fred Gaisberg's personal photo album. There is even a close-up of the leg of the piano in the recording studio, and its' 'Sold from hire' entry. Part 3 is to follow.

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I know this thread is a few years old, but I've just managed to acquire facsimilies (published mid 1980s?) of the first two Gramophone 'Stock' lists, so can add a little more.

 

The first list is in two parts dated 16 Nov 1898, one part is all American recordings, and the other English recordings. The 'English' part lists the following concertina records (without artist names, so I've added them in brackets)

9100 Glory to God [ Salvation Army Staff Captain Linacre]
9102 Honeymoon March [Percy Honri]
9106 Castilda March [Percy Honri]
9107 Happy Darkies [Percy Honri]

According to some writers, they were sold out by Christmas.

 

The second 'English' list is dated 22 Feb 1899 and lists:

9100 Glory to God [no performer name given]


Mr. J. Collis Bird.
9105 March of the Men of Harlech.

 

Mr. Percy Honri.
9102 Honeymoon March.
9103 Marauder's March.
9104 Killarney.
9106 Castilda March.
9107 Happy Darkies.
9108 The Lost Chord.
9109 Santiago Waltz.
9110 Toreador Waltz.
9112 Selection from The Geisha.
9113 Austrian Hymn.
9114 Lyceum March.
9115 Gramophone March.
9117 High School Cadets.

 

The second list also requests:

IN ORDERING please select a considerably larger proportion than you require, or make a double selection, so that we may substitute where we cannot execute from our Stock.
 

Supplementary lists were next issued on 10 and 28 November 1899, from then on supplementary lists were issued monthly.

 

Going on the melody of the 'recreation of the first recording' on the Flexi-disc issued with Peter Honri's book, it seems that 'Happy Darkies' was recorded by Percy Honri again on 29 February 1904 and issued on 7" Zonophone with the title 'The Swanee River Schottische'. I have a copy of this this Zonophone recording on my site.

 

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On 8/26/2018 at 3:54 PM, wes williams said:

I know this thread is a few years old, but I've just managed to acquire facsimilies (published mid 1980s?) of the first two Gramophone 'Stock' lists, so can add a little more.

 

These facsimiles are indeed extremely old, probably dating back to the 1960s, and were sold by the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society -- I must have got my copies in the very early 1970s.

On 8/26/2018 at 3:54 PM, wes williams said:

Going on the melody of the 'recreation of the first recording' on the Flexi-disc issued with Peter Honri's book, it seems that 'Happy Darkies' was recorded by Percy Honri again on 29 February 1904 and issued on 7" Zonophone with the title 'The Swanee River Schottische'. I have a copy of this this Zonophone recording on my site.

 

The flexi-disc does not give 'Happy Darkies' (by Arthur Godfrey) as on Berliner 9107 but 'Coon's Delight' (unknown composer -- probably Honri?) on 9116 -- the names simply got mixed up after 50 years.  The 1898 original disc is (not unexpectedly) played too fast (78rpm) but the 'recreation' is of course at the correct pitch.  As your Zonophone recording is apparently of the same piece, then it might well have been renamed by Honri if he was the composer, perhaps to avoid confusion with some other piece (eg, 'Coon Delights' by Victor Arnold).  I hope that clarifies things a bit!   Peter

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