Literaphon (Germany) / 1929

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Design: The typography on the label is carefully done, with some of the letters of the label name showing a mock-medieval influence prevalent in printed communication throughout northern Germany; Gothic lettering would be in common usage even in newspapers until the 1950s, though here the letterforms are more in the rounded 'Lombardic' tradition, which had been most often used as decorative initials in books.

History: All scans courtesy of collector Georg Richter of Germany, who writes: "The thin metal blanks for these 'home-recording' records were manufactured by Literaphon G.m.b.H., Stechelhörn 11, Hamburg 8, Germany, who also issued the equipment to make the recordings. Three sort of blanks were available: nonflammable Celesta (0.3mm thick), polished brass aluminum plates (12 and 20cm diamater), and a sheet coated with aluminum foil; the latter did not last long because of atmospheric corrosion. Special needles were required for playback, to run in the extremely shallow grooves with its microscopic pitch. The main purpose for these discs was the sending of 'spoken letters.' The quality of music recording and the durability of the plates was complained of in the technical press; after about 20 times of use, playback became impossible; nevertheless, the manufacturer kept the recommendation for 'universal use' active. A comparison of Literaphon grooves (on the left) versus an ordinary shellac record can be seen below."

(Above): How to play Literaphon disks. 1. Remove a special needle from the enclosed pockets and insert into the reproducer box, in such a way that the angled tip points in the direction of travel of the plate (sketch 1). 2. Before placing the plate, check that the tip of the needle is exactly aligned with the center axis of the plate (sketch 2) when the tone arm is turned from the outer edge of the plate to the center of the plate. Minor deviations are not necessarily a problem for the plate, but there is no guarantee that the needle does not jump over the groove when playing. If the gramophone does not stand firmly and evenly on its support when playing, the same risk exists. 3. Place Litteraphone plate and fix it by means of a perforated rubber tube or cork, which is pushed over the pin in the center of the plate (sketch 3). Now the plate is ready for playing. Playing with normal uncrawled needles affects the life of the plates unfavourably. If your stock of special needles is over, please contact the General Representative of the Literaphon Society, Mr. Franz Winkelmann, Munchen, Josefspitalstr. 10, who will provide you with reference sources.

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