Edison GEM!!! Friday, January 23, 2015

The American Treasure Tour blog would like to apologize.  We get so excited to talk about pieces in our collection, we occasionally overlook an important piece of the ATT pie:   The Music Box Society, International has a wonderful collection of musical machines located on display in our Music Room.  It's time to remedy that.

The name of the organization is the Music Box Society, International, but their collection moves far beyond just music boxes.  In fact, they also include some of the technology that led to the end of the popularity of both music boxes and nickelodeons, specifically the phonograph. Thomas Edison of West Orange, NJ famously invented the first phonograph, which he intended to assist office workers transcribe dictations.  They became much more popular as a way to listen to music recorded by the original performers.  The piece pictured here is an Edison Gem.  The Gem was designed to be affordable and practical.  The first Gems became available in 1899, and sold initially for $7.50.  A cylinder could last either two or four minutes - top of the line!  They were made for a number of years.  The Gem we have on display dates to around 1910, toward the end of the run for Gem, which finished production in 1914.  

QUESTION:  What company was producing phonographs for $5, which inspired Edison to create his Gems?
A)  Regina
B)  Wurlitzer
C)  Victor
D)  Columbia

The United States Constitution makes clear in no uncertain terms that to be president, a person must be born in the country;  however, not so for the powerful position of Secretary of State.  There have actually been a few foreign-born Secretaries of State.  Henry Kissinger was one, and today we celebrate the birthday of another:  Madeleine Albright.  Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, now part of the Czech Republic, Albright was the first woman appointed to the spot.  Appointed on this day in 1997, she served under President Bill Clinton until the end of his term in 2001.  Like all politicians, some loved what she did, some hated it. But her legacy will forever be remembered as the first woman to ever hold this position, prior to Colin Powell, the first African American Secretary of State!

Today is Ernie Kovacs' birthday.  Born in 1919, he lived only 42 years before an automobile accident cut his career short but during his abbreviated career he managed to make so many Americans laugh that his name still conjures up a smile for many comedians.  Performances in radio, television and film made Kovacs famous, although true appreciation for his talents would not happen until after his passing.  Thanks for the giggles!

QUOTE:  Television: A medium.  So called because it's neither rare nor well done.  - Ernie Kovacs



ANSWER:  D)  Columbia