Casavant Frères

For a time, famed organ maker Casavant Frères made disc record players (phonographs or gramophones).

My crude translaton of the French language pages in Casavant Frères, 1879-1979 by Laurent Lapointe: 


"[Because] of their competence in the questions of sonority and the laws of acoustics, and experiments in [cabinetry], [Casavant] undertook the manufacture of phonographs.  To this end, in 1919, they created another limited company [called] La Companie de Phonographes Casavant Limitee.  This enterprise was really born in the factory since the first machines were initially made by some employees eager to get a gramophone [cheaply](!).  This practice authorized by the owners was transformed soon into a serious project and, after a few months of studies and experiments on various apparatuses, they began manufacturing an instrument with which the Casavant brothers were satisfied.  At the beginning they did not seek to produce machines in great quantity, but the reputation of the Casavant phonograph spread rather quickly from Saint-Hyacinthe and visitors to the organ factory did not fail to underline its quality.  These first successes the Casavant brothers to consider entering this business and the decision was made to [increase] their production and to incorporate the company in 1919.  A building was bought and [they] installed the necessary production equipment.  After one year, 20 employees under the direction of Joseph Touchette, the former harmonist as a chief of the branch of South Haven, produced 13 different models for which the demand became so strong that it surpassed production capacity (!).  Success was short-lived and the remaining woodworking machines and the motors of La Companie de Phonographes Casavant were bought by the organ enterprise which put to definitive end the manufacture of phonographs in 1927."

Pictures from a brochure courtesy of Bryan Dewalt at the National Museum of Science and Technology, Hull, PQ:


  Pictures coutesy Keith Wright at the Casavant factory, Ste. Hyacinthe, PQ:

Machine in the collection of Keith Wright (crank removed):

Arm can swing for vertical or lateral cut records:

Compared to a Victor Victrola VV-IX:

"Flea market" machine about 2003 (photos by KW):

Machine in the collection of the National Museum of Science and Technology (courtesy their website):

Arthur Zimmerman contributes this ad from the Montreal Daily Star, Thurs. April 1, 1929, p. 26.

KW found the following, Montreal Gazette, Nov. 9, 1920, pg. 10.

For sale on eBay Jan., 2012--looks like a 125: