This odd little machine was made by the E. S. Pease Co. of New York in 1908.
It was disingenously advertised as "not an imported toy", masking the fact
that it was an imported machine. The design is classically European, especially
the reversible lid and the mechanism, which is clearly based on the Columbia 'Eagle'
as very many European phonographs were. However this version has an open spring with
no barrel, which is hidden along with the governor underneath a metal cover. The
ornate winding key is a close copy of the Columbia "Q". The large diameter
reproducer is unique to this very basic machine. The diminutive morning glory horn,
however, was almost certainly sourced from an America supplier. Offered at only $4.80
wholesale, lowered to $4 a few months after release, it could be sold outright for
$8, or more often distributed as a "premium machine" -- offered for free
in return for selling a specified number of magazine subscriptions or commercial
products, or as an incentive for loyal store customers.
A July 1908 ad to the trade says "Pease Premiums Please People -- Produce Profits. Did it ever occur to you to stimulate trade with some good premium -- do not confuse this with price cutting -- on the contrary, it is a system by which a retailer rewards patrons for their steady customage and by which he can hold their trade without having to constantly undersell 'the man across the street', thereby never knowing how much average price is made on sales. We are experts in this line, let us help you."
It is grossly underpowered and crudely built, but the sound quality is surprisingly good. Original ads show the small morning glory horn supported either from the rear, or with a table crane as seen here.
What makes this inexpensive phonograph so charming is the lovely oxidized copper finish, sometimes referred to as 'tiger striping.' This rather elegant and complex decoration is very surprising on a low-end machine -- it is commonly associated with luxury machines like the Edison Idelia. Note that while the mainspring and governor are hidden, the drive gears are outside of the enclosed motor assembly.
The phonograph mechanism can be turned upside down, revealing a thin handle under its base and neatly enclosing the machine in a crudely but attractively decorated oak case. Small latches on the sides secure it. The Crown is quite scarce, with only a few survivors reported. This machine was formerly in the well-known Richard Pope collection.
This advertisement appeared in the October 1908 issue of Talking Machine World. Other ads appeared in July.
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