Edison Gem Phonograph

c. 1905

The Gem is powered by a spring motor or clockwork which allowed it to run two records, wax cylinders, with one winding. Equipped with a Reproducer the Gem allowed people to record voices/recitations on blanks to play back.

The works are enclosed in the iron body, which stands on a polished hard wood base. The finish is black enamel with gilt decorations and the mandrel, the rod on which the wax cylinder is placed, is nickelled and polished. When new, the Gem came with a wooden carrying cover.

In its day, circa 1905, the Gem was the cheapest genuine phonograph on the market. It sold for US $10.00. Standard wax cylinders called “records” cost 50 cents each and “blanks “cost 25 cents each.

“It will sing for you, it will play for you. It will repeat to you the music of famous bands and orchestras, the sweet voices of famous singers, and the precious voices of family and friends, even though they be dead. It is a remembrance reduced to the visible presence. It preserves what otherwise would have perished. It entertains and amuses people of all ages and stations beyond and device, mechanical or otherwise, ever invented.” The Phonograph; an introduction Jan. 1 1903

Historical information

"Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and early versions of the electric light bulb, have had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He established the first industrial research laboratory." Wikipedia



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Contextual Information

It is not known how this phonograph made its journey to the museum but it can be imagined how an early settler had it in their living room as it was mass produced by the Edison Phonograph Company and would have been available to those that could afford it. Whether it came along with a new immigrant or whether it was imported later is unknown.

Place made
New Jersey
United States
c. 1905
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Busselton Historical Society

Busselton Historical Society

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Gem Phonograph
Gem Phonograph photo by Flying Eye Photography

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