Edison Spring Motor

An Edison Spring Motor phonograph (the predecessor of the Triumph) recently acquired by Aaron Cramer

The most unusual aspect of this machine is the apparent method used to deliver it. There are two sets of shipping labels and postage stamps affixed to the lid (which, like the Edison Gem machine's lid, completely covers the machine when in place). The shipping labels are from the "Phonograph Company of Manhattan", in New York. It was mailed to "Mrs. John Leggins, Box 23, Morningside Heights, NY" (Morningside Heights is located near Columbia University).

Deduced from the stamps and labels, it was ascertained that twice the same dealer shipped this machine to the same address. The stamps shown were in use from 1908. Both times the machine was shipped, the postage was 44 cents, which is in line with the 1 cent per pound postage rates of 1913.

After the first mailing, stamps and lables were affixed over the used stamps, and it was mailed again. The denominations of the stamps were three twelve-cent stamps, and one eight-cent stamp on the first mailing. The second mailing used eight five-cent stamps and one four-cent stamp. The only date clearly seen is March 27, but sadly, no year is visible. Parcel Post, however, started in 1913, so this gives us an approximate time frame.

This detail of one of the five-cent stamps, clearly shows that it was cancelled.

It appears that someone thought of the lid as some type of shipping crate. If they had had any regard for it as an important part of the machine, why didn't they package the machine in some other container, or at least remove the label and stamps? If it was common practice to ship machines this way, why don't others regularly show up with labels and stamps? Or, perhaps as most phonograph collectors know, the lid is useless... until you want to sell the machine.

As you can see, the phonograph survived its postal trip with little or no ill effects. One will notice that this machine is equipped with a Bettini reproducer. Perhaps this was an upgrade performed by the dealer who then returned the phonograph by mail?

If anyone else has experienced anything similar, please contact Nipperhead with the details, as Mr. Cramer would be most interested in comparing notes.