This page is under construction, so please bear with me.
First thing’s first, what I have written here is basic advice, but if you have any playable (IE not cracked or broken) phonograph cylinders, please email me as I will probbably want them! My address is “email@example.com” without the quotes of course!
One would think, given the relatively small period of time cylinders were being made compared to 78rpm records or lps, that it would all be very simple, and they’d all be valuable. This isn’t the case, however finding a group of cylinders in what collectors call “the wild” aka not on Ebay! Is very rare, and to date has never happened to me.
Why sell your cylinders to me and not on Ebay? The main reason for that could be that I am able to record them, put them onto cds and on the internet for all to hear, and if you have home recordings (see below) I will transfer them for you for free, you never know who might be on those…
Quick notes about boxes and lids. If you have a load of cylinders in the correct boxes with the correct lids, this is wonderful, but if you do not it is not a deal breaker, however it is the cylinder titles I’d want, not those on the lids! Also when 4 minute cylinders came out the lids tended to stay with them a lot easier, so finding 4 minute cylinders with the rite lids is easier than 2 minute ones.
The earliest cylinder records were brown wax. These are rare! I don’t pretend to know all that much about them as I’ve not been fortunate enough to encounter many, but please keep the following in mind if you have brown wax cylinders…
the early appeal of phonographs was not just listening to music, it was recording things, a person’s voice, playing music, etc, and no matter what your brown wax cylinder says on it it could very easily be a home recording, and often is! This is a double edged sword. Home recordings are usually one of a kind, so of course they are rarer, but if someone buys a rare brown wax cylinder and gets someone playing a cornet badly they likely won’t care about that!
I said above that I will be interested in any cylinders you have to offer, and they will be played! If you are not able to play them please consider letting me listen to them, if that rare brown wax title really is what it says on the cylinder you’ll get a LOT more money for it!
black wax: these were 2 minute cylinders, aka they played for around 2 minutes. The British titles started with 13 and 14 numbers. The collectable ones here are mostly music hall/comic titles or ragtime, but as I said before I’ll take anything! If you have stuff like Harry Champion, Ben Albert, Ernest Shand etc in mould-free condition you’re really on to a winner!
Most other Edisons are american. There’s nothing wrong with these! But they are substantially more common as Edison’s main business was over there, and apparently cylinders still turn up in the wild in that land of milk and honey… If you have non-english language titles on Edison you could again be on to a good thing!
Edison Bell, Clarion, Sterling etc are all names that do turn up quite often in Britain, mould-free titles are again uncommon though! And yet again music hall stuff is the most sort after on these imprints.
Unbelievably, as opposed to on discs where it is everywhere, columbia cylinders are not too common in this country! That doesn’t mean they’re any rarer than the clarions and sterlings etc though.
There were other labels making cylinders around this time, White and Rex are two examples that spring to mind, also square Ebanoid records. These are all extremely rare things now! And the original boxes and/or lids will hike the price even further. Pink Lambert cylinders have to be the most sort after of these, they can make triple figures for frankly boring titles! The only thing with the lamberts is they can shrink and be impossible to play.
In 1908 Edison started making 4 minute cylinders called Amberols. This stuff is the majority of what we see today, and because my focus is mostly on 2 minute cylinders I don’t know much about them, that is not to say I don’t like or want them, as I do both! I believe the British amberol series was 12000 numbers aka numbers starting with 12 but I could be quite wrong!
Ones to look out for are foxtrot titles, they always sell! And late american 5000 series, these went on into 1929 and are extremely hard to find that late, presumably because by that time everyone had realised the days of the wax cylinder phonograph were extremely numbered!
I’m not as well versed in cylinders as I am in 78s see my wanted page for 78s here but I really, really would love to know what you’ve got! Even mouldy cylinders can play, and even with the incredible efferts of the cylinder digitisation project over in America, most British stuff has never and will likely never be digitised unless collectors like me do it!
So once again please email me if you have any cylinders at all! And if my email link doesn’t work correctly for you, it is “firstname.lastname@example.org” without the quotes of corse