Nickel Plated EDISON "HOME" in Hawthorne & Sheble Cabinet

Like the Model T cars made by his close friend Henry Ford, Thomas Edison's phonographs were finished in black, at least for most of the metalwork. Edison's rival, the Columbia Phonograph Company, made a vast array of machines with bright nickel plating, but Edison only offered this elegant finish on special order --at significantly higher cost. Nickel plating the bedplate and top works of the ever-popular Edison Home cost $25, in addition to the $30 base price of the machine. Not surprisingly, very few customers chose to nearly double the cost of a phonograph just for some shiny metal, and nickel plated Homes, Standards, and Triumphs are extremely rare today as a result. (Those who had the money to want an elegant machine usually opted for a more expensive phonograph at the outset.)

This high-end example of the Edison Home is mounted inside an accessory cabinet made by Hawthorne & Sheble, which sold for $18. The phonograph is protected under a glass cover, and the five drawers hold a total of 100 cylinders. The nickel-plated mechanism harmonizes elegantly with the nickel hardware of the cabinet, creating a very luxurious incarnation of what is ordinarily a humble Edison Home phonograph. At a total cost of $73 in 1901 (nearly $2000 in today's dollars), this was a very upscale machine.