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Custom made in wood and leather with the interior plates for the 78rpm records. The music plays through the music box to give sound as the spindle works on a motor.
Columbia began selling disc records and phonographs in addition to the cylinder system in 1901, preceded only by their “Toy Graphophone” of 1899, which used small, vertically-cut records. For a decade, Columbia competed with both the Edison Phonograph Company cylinders and the Victor Talking Machine Company disc records as one of the top three names in American recorded sound.
In order to add prestige to its early catalogue of artists, Columbia contracted a number of New York Metropolitan Opera stars to make recordings (from 1903 onwards). These stars included Marcella Sembrich, Lillian Nordica, Antonio Scotti and Edouard de Reszke, but the technical standard of their recordings were not considered to be as high as the results achieved with classical singers during the pre-World War One period by Victor, Edison, England’s His Master’s Voice or Italy’s Fonotipia Records. In 1908, Columbia commenced the mass production of “Double Sided” discs, with the recording grooves stamped into both faces of each disc — not just one. The firm also introduced the internal-horn “Grafonola” to compete with the extremely popular “Victrola” sold by the rival Victor Talking Machine Company.