|The branding on the underside of the case lid of my newly discovered HMV Model 102 Gramophone.|
I presume the gramophone belonged to my Grandfather, who had a great interest in classically-orientated music. He was an amateur singer, who performed on stage in productions such as The Mikado when he was young. It appears that the gramophone is a His Master’s Voice Model 102, made in the 1930s. It’s in the standard colour of black, but the condition is very impressive, and the device still works perfectly. It’s actually quite unnerving opening up the case, finding an old record player, and then just as you’re wondering where the plug socket is, you flick a lever and the turntable starts to revolve – fast!… No electricity, no power source - it’s like magic!
|The HMV Model 102 Gramophone playing one of the accompanying 78rpm records.|
All records play at a speed of 78rpm, and other than a very slight pitch variation control, there are no other settings. There’s a brake which stops the turntable revolving, and that’s pretty much it. The wind-up handle inserts just beneath the right hand side of the turntable, and you feel a reassuring resistance as you increase the tension in the mechanism. You then start the turntable, plonk on a record, drop the rather lethal looking stylus onto the edge of the record, the chamber above the stylus amplifies the vibration, and you get music. You do get a hell of a lot of crackling too, but the music comes out on top.
|A closer look at the gramophone in action. The chamber above the stylus (needle) amplifies the vibration and renders the information in the grooves of the record as very clearly audible music. The chamber looks small, but it's not quiet.|
My next task will be to investigate the records a little further. They don’t have the year of recording labelled onto them, so there's some detective work to do. I did make a start with a record I specifically photographed for this piece (shown below), and I was able to hit the nail on the head with that one, so to speak. I've established a precise recording date of 18th March 1920, thanks to this highly informative article on a Gilbert and Sullivan discography site. In less than eight years, that recording will reach the age of a hundred.
|Recorded on Thursday 18th March 1920, the music on this gramophone record is only a year and a bit removed from World War I. Beautiful label, too.|
Posted by: Bob Leggitt