When it was first marketed in early 1899, the Columbia Graphophone Type Q was the least expensive phonograph offered by any of the major manufacturers. As inexpensive as it was -- $5 -- it still represented a fairly serious investment for the average worker, equivalent to over $100 today. It was a simple machine with an open motor, however it was a well-made and reliable phonograph which proved to be extremely popular.

The basic $5 Type Q had no provision to protect the machine and make it easier to carry around. For that Columbia offered two options. For an additional $1 a customer could purchase the Type QB, pictured here. This consisted of a Type Q Graphophone fitted into a cardboard box with simulated leather cover, red lining and a leather handle on top. The front is embellished with a gold "The Graphophone" imprint. (The original catalog boasted "When closed, the case resembles a camera in size and finish, and is very neat.") The QB is by far the rarest version because the cardboard box was fragile and ill-suited to withstand the rigors of years of handling and environmental damage. Consequently very few survive today.

Two styles of the Type Q were made. This is the earliest, with a brushed steel base and a solid key. The support for the governor is mounted on the base. The later design can be seen on my Columbia Type QA page.