COLUMBIA COIN-OPERATED TYPE N GRAPHOPHONE
1896-1897

This scarce and early machine is the coin-operated version of the Type N. It is historically significant since it was the first spring-driven coin-operated phonograph in the mass market (earlier machines were battery-powered). First offered in August 1896, it used the same heavy-duty upper mechanical assembly as the home version, but with an added coin mechanism. This was mounted in a large cabinet with a removable domed glass lid. (In later Columbia coin-operated Graphophones the lid was attached with hinges.) Both the home and commercial versions of the Graphophone Type N are unusual in that they have an endgate supporting the mandrel on the right side. This feature was used on all Edison phonographs until 1906, but only two Graphophones were fitted with endgates: the Type N and Type GG. The N coin-op is a very substantial machine with heavy nickel plating and enclosed gears, which made for quieter operation.



The Type N coin-op came out over two years before Edison finally launched a competing spring-wound coin-operated phonograph, the "H", also priced at $50. However by that time Columbia had already replaced the Type N with the Type AS (based on the simplified Type A mechanism), which cost only $35.

Unfortunately, total production is unknown because serial numbers were intermixed with the home version. It was only in the market for about one year, and given how few survive today the total sales must have been small. Despite a contemporary catalog advertisement which called it "cheap," the $50 price tag was formidable -- equivalent to nearly $1,500 in today's dollars.

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