The Berliner 12.5 cm Records online Catalogue


It is commonly said that the first Berliner Gramophone record to be offered on the market was pressed in the USA in October 1894. It was a seven inch record. But in fact Emile Berliner (1851-1929), inventor of the gramophone record, had made and sold records long before that date. It is a German toy maker (Kämmer & Reinhardt in Waltershausen, Thuringen) who made and marketed the very first Berliner Gramophone which was a toy with a cardboard horn, hand operated with a crank, but with no spring or motor.

This device put on the market from 1889 to 1892, rotated five inch records (12,5 cm) at 100-150 revolutions per minute. These records are not made of shellac like records made later, but of gutta-percha : an inelastic compressed and vulcanized natural latex or rubber isolated from the sap of several species of tropical tree, but mainly from Palaquium gutta. They are pressed from metallic matrixes. Both records and machines bear the mention "E. Berliner Grammophon D.R.P. [Deutsches Reichspatent] 45048". The label on the reverse side of each record contains the title or the recorded text and the mention of two of Berliner's US patents : Nov 1887, May 1888. They are indeed the oldest records in the world. The voice heard of most of these records, singing or talking with no instrumental accompaniment, is Emile Berliner's own voice. This is commonly admitted and it is indeed a voice - always the same on different records - with an audible German accent. The above list represents the earliest disc record catalogue in the world.

Chamoux, Henri
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