Curtiss / Aeronola
Machine photo and information on the machine from Rob Gosselin, Kingston, On.
On the motor:
Ser no 301173
Motor no 226827 # 16 Pat June 18 ' 12 Pat Nov 30 ' 15 MeisselBach Newark N.J. USA.
The Cabinet is also stamped # 673
Made by Curtiss Aeroplanes & motors, Limited, Toronto, Canada.
Distributed by Orme Limited 175 Sparks st. Ottawa, Canada.
and information from Carl Swanston:
Notes received with the above machine pictures:The Curtiss Aeronola gramophones were manufactured at
Glenn Curtiss was an aviation
pioneer born in upper state
In an effort to expand his
production, Curtiss built a plant in
Curtiss was friends with
Alexander Graham Bell who in turn was friends with
Emile Berliner. Berliner
After the war ended in the spring of 1919, Curtiss retook possession of his plant and dedicated a part of it to become the gramophone factory on Dufferin. The factory was meant to produce up to 300 units a day. They were recruiting cabinet makers, rubbers, trimmers and finishers: rate 50 cents per hour up to 6 dollars a day. At 50 cents an hour it would have taken 2 months of work to enable you to buy my Model number 5.
There was a strong ad campaign in the fall of 1919 enticing vendors to pre-order their aeronola’s for Christmas. I fear that the orders didn’t come in.
History leads me to believe that Curtiss fell on hard times in 1920 (the company was forced into receivership) and the gramophone production facility became the General (car) Top Company in August of 1920. The Curtiss Company was then managed by Canadian financier Clement Keys who brought it back to prosperity sans gramophone production.
My gramophone was
brilliantly refurbished and refinished in the fall
of 2006 by Robert Nix “The Gramophone Doctor” of
According to Larry Milberry in "Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades" (CANAV Books, Toronto, 2008), "While Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd. suddenly was out of airplane manufacturing [after WW I] and selling off equipment, Toronto might have been surprised to see advertisements placed in local papers in July 1919 by Curtiss Aeroplanes & Motors Limited seeking tradesmen. The company earlier edged out by CAL [Canadian Aeroplanes Limited] was back in business. One Curtiss ad read "Wanted Immediately Cabinet Makers Rubbers, Trimmers, Finishers for Burning In. Rate 50cents per hour, and piece work to be started at once to enable men to earn $6 or more per day. Apply at Company's Office, 163 Dufferin Street, to Mr. Wright, Superintendent." In that neighbourhood, it is likely that Curtiss was using some CAL floor space. In 1919, however, Curtiss was building no airplanes. Instead, it was turning out some general products, but specialized in a new home entertainment fad--the phonograph. By now, with a great wave of postwar prosperity, every family craved a phonograph. (page 164)
On page 79, below an advert in the Globe and Mail, like the ones below, he states "At war's end Curtiss kept its plant operating at least into 1920 producing such non-aviation products as high-end "home entertainment systems". The Aeronola record player was a big item. In its advertising, Curtiss made good use of its aeronautical roots, showing Santa as delivering Aeronolas in his own JN-4 on skis."
Milberry then goes on to describe an item in the Globe, October 21, 1919 which reported that the Columbia Gramophone Company secured the vast production facility of CAL.
|Scans from 'The
Canadian Music Trades Journal' courtesy Carl Swanston:
October 1919 (two pages):
believe this is the museum artefact report for the machine
mentioned above from the Science and Technology
Museum--also supplied by Carl Swanston:
Machine photos from Wayne Cowie .
He also sent: "Serial number looks like 4M716 Motor # 137612."
Machine photos from Mike Gignac, 2013 ser# is 30655 and the motor # is 169454:
Jennifer Mueller contributes the following advertisement published in the Globe and Mail, Saturday November 29, 1919 (page 18):
KW found this one, Edmonton Journal Sept. 27, 1919 pg 19:
Stephen McKendry-Smith sends the following pictures regarding a machine he bought from the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the early to mid '90s.