American Odeon Record

American Odeon Record (U.S.A.) / c. 1906

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Design: The illustration features an early disc-playing machine, its reproducer connected to the base of a front-mounted horn. The noble-looking warrior chief, sitting on a richly-woven blanket with records scattered all around, wears wampum beads, a further sign of wealth, and is smoking a pipe of peace. The feathers on his head are not simply decoration but can be adjusted to keep the sun out of his eyes while stalking his prey. The byline of 'Music hath Charms' is but the first part of Shakespeare's phrase, which ends 'to soothe the savage breast'; equally politically incorrect is 'Patents in all important countries.'

History: Ellsworth Hawthorne and Horace Sheble were Philadelphia-based phonograph distributors who ran into trouble with Thomas Edison for pasting their own labels on his machines. Their third partner, John Prescott, had a brother named Frederick, who was a principal of the International Talking Machine Company (Zon-O-Phone), which in 1901 had been barred from producing records in contravention of Victor/Columbia's crucial patents. As a subsidiary of Zon-O-Phone, the American Record Company began to issue lateral-cut discs in 1904, but after Columbia won a decisive court case against Zon-O-Phone in 1906, it was forced to cease operations.




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