What’s it Worth: Edison Phonograph

The horn on the antique Edison phonograph amplifies the sounds of yesteryear.

Edison Phonograph

Edison Phonograph

Edison Phonograph


What can you tell me about this working Edison phonograph? We also have about 30 cylinders that came with it.

—W.G., Coldwater, Michigan

 What’s it Worth?

Thomas Alva Edison patented the device that made it possible to reproduce recorded sound in 1878. Interestingly, his first versions of the device recorded sounds as well as playing them back; he believed that audio recordings would replace business letters and the stenographers who took them down.

People today love that dramatic “morning glory” horn; early owners were less enthusiastic, calling it an oversize dust catcher that was hard to store. A nickel-plated crane, driven by a hand-cranked spring motor, supports the horn, which worked as an amplifier. Your Edison Phonograph appears to have the original patina on both the oak cabinet and dome cover, as well as strong decal color. The Edison Gold Molded Cylinders, made of black wax, sold separately; each cylinder could hold only two minutes of material.

When production on this Edison Phonograph model ended in 1911, it sold for $20. Today it’s valued at about $1,600.

—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)

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