I just added another old Eaton’s phonograph to the collection, the Eaton’s “Roamer’ (model 50-26), made by Dominion Electrohome Industries, the company that I assume later became simply Electrohome. A previous post covered the Eaton’s 703. Presumably you could roam about with this neat little unit in hand, taking it over to a friend’s apartment to listen to the latest music:
It’s hard to determine the date it was made, but my guess is the 1940’s, before the advent of the LP, since this machine is made to play 78’s. It was on the shelf with the electronics at the thrift shop, where I spotted it immediately from the old style box and handle. The power cord was cut off so there was no way to test it, but for twenty bucks I decided it was worth a gamble. I saw from peeking into the underside that there were two vacuum tubes, so I figure that if it didn’t work I could convert it into a 5 watt guitar amp. However, after I soldered on a new power cord it did indeed work. The tubes began to glow and a loud hum was heard from the speaker. I put some silicone lube on the platter spindle and the platter began to turn very fast.
Looking at the pickup I noted an offset stylus with some sort of dark point, that I assumed to be the sapphire, or some such thing. The pickup itself was made by Shure. With it humming and the platter spinning around quickly I reached for the nearest 78 album, and grabbed the first disc in the set – Xavier Cugat’s Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra playing Begin the Beguine.
How appropriate – my parents spent their honeymoon at the Waldorf Astoria in 1947. Maybe they even danced in the ballroom while Cugat’s orchestra played this song. Compared to my much older windup 78 phonograph, this one is high fidelity. It certainly does explain how those recording engineers managed to get decent quality edits from old recordings that exist only on 78’s from that era. They manufactured these discs with the highest technology of the time, as explained here:
Last year I missed out on a wonderful old German portable phonograph I saw in a thrift shop but didn’t buy. See that post here.
When I saw this old suitcase phonograph the other day I grabbed it. It worked poorly at first but I was able to remove the stuck platter and clean off the old grease, lubricate it and get it going. It has a BSR automatic turntable which was very common, and there are many videos about fixing them. The amplifier, a mono unit with one vacuum tube, puts out a decent sound through a very small speaker. These units generally had ceramic phono cartridges which although not hi-fi were good enough for their purpose. Here is a video demonstration using one of my old LP’s with the Beatles classic No Reply, from Beatles 65, featuring evocative vocals by John Lennon. The sound, although poor by modern standards, is still thrilling and I even enjoyed the 60 cycle hum!
I have no idea who manufactured this unit, but it was sold by Eaton’s, and made in Canada. It could be an Electrohome, or perhaps RCA Victor.
Anyone have 16 rpm records?
The wiring is stereo but only two wires are connected to the amplifier, and the cartridge is mono too. It has a dual needle stylus type ST8, which is still available, and plays 78’s too.
This morning I came across an interesting ultra-portable typewriter: a Majestic 700. It is in fact a Smith Corona Corsair/Skywriter/etc, with plastic case and lid; probably the lightest of any machine I’ve seen. I had no camera but the picture above is the same model. This one was made in Canada. Curious about the Majestic brand I searched and discovered most were made by Brother. I also found an interesting old advert from Eaton’s of Canada. Eaton’s carried a good variety of everything made on earth at one time. The copy states that the Majestic case was made of “Cycolac”, a new material then. Among the small portables you could buy a Lettera 22, Hermes Rocket, Underwood 18, or Majestic 700, each for $80. The Majestic 400 however, presumably a Brother JP1, was a mere $55. All machines were available in English or French, Pica or Elite; no mention of script!