Thorens Acoustic Machines
(I don't own)

Hermann Thorens SA St Cross

 (This is my translation of the Thorens portion of this Swiss page: --with many additions as noted by square brackets [].)

In the 16 industrial buildings which were built over the years, the internal combustion engine, which in 1883 generously developed 7 HP, gave way to an installed electric generator supplying the 2000 kW needed to spread around the world some 2 to 3 million components and phonographs. Thorens employed in 1928/30 1200 workers and employees.


Commercial representatives in New York - London - Paris-Brussels-Milan-Frankfurt-Nuemberg-Amsterdam-Copenhagen-Oslo-Stockholm-Helsinki-Lisbon-Madrid-Athens-Alger-Antananarivo-Johannesburg-Sao Paulo-Buenos Surface-Caracas-Mexico City-Sydney.

 [The below is a picture of Sainte-Croix, the Thorens –factory (about 1950) “Journal of Mechanical Music” Spring 2001 page 31]

Cylinder Phonographs

Thorens in 1902 launched their 1st cylinder machines—which were essentially variations of the American models of the time with harp-shaped sides and aluminium construction. [editor's note: in particular the machine below looks like an American Columbia "Q" Graphophone]

[Here is an example from Roy Jones: <<>>.  It looks like the Thorens "Minerva" as shown below.]


[Picture submitted to by Rolf C. Olsen, Tonsberg, Norway]

[A machine definitely identified by the collector as a Minerva from the website <<>>]


This phonograph allowed the playing of each of 6 cylinders when placed in a special housing.  (Collection of P. Caluwé) [editors note: looks like a coin-op mechanism, source]


[And here is a Thorens "Cleopatra" cylinder player from Jean-Paul Agnard.  I also have one and it is shown on my main page.  This machine is interesting as it can be wound left or right handed.]

[Rainer Urich also has one although he calls it a UK machine (all Cleopatras have a London badge) but then admits the mechanism is Thorens so it should be a Swiss machine.]

[From the website <<>>  this is a 'Sylvia "C"'.]

Here is another Sylvia C from eBay, 2013:

[Manfred Unger of Germany, sent the following picture of his 'Sylvia "B"'.  He has a great website at <<>>.]

sylvia b

Disc Gramophones

After 1914 there were a wide variety of talking machines with floral housing, being the fashion matching the furniture and home interiors which were richly decorated. These machines could play up to ten 12 inch (30 cm in diameter) discs depending on the model, as some had up to 4-spring motors.

Thorens "Bijou" from 1907 [Editor's notes: the reproducer is turned to play 'hill-and-dale' like Pathè; the 1907 Thorens catalog here lists the Bijou as a much more primitive machine--the owner must be using the name on the reproducer as the model ID.]


More ornate Thorens from 1914 [Editor's notes: reproducer now turned to play lateral-cut like Victor/Columbia; I am unable to match this machine up with any model from the Thorens 1914 catalog here.]

[Below is another machine from <<>> that is also labeled as a Thorens 'Bijou' but dated 1906.  It is very much like the 'No. 3 Bijou' in the Thorens catalog identified as being from 1910 here.]

[Original text: One of the first gramophones made in Switzerland: The "Bijou" by Thorens
The wooden cabinet is similar like the Music Boxes of this time
The key is build in the tradition of clock-work-makers
The unusual Soundbox made by Thorens]


[ From the website <<>> this is a 'Helvétia' also from 1906.  Note that it looks to be coin operated.   There is a Helvetia in the Thorens 1907 catalog here and a more appropriate 'No. 316 Helvetia' in the Thorens 1914 catalog here.]

Excelda Portable Gramophones

Minimal footprint in the form of a camera. The 1st model dating from 1935 was available only in black with wooden housing and mica diaphragm. From 1942 available in black, red, green, grey, blue and brown with metal housing. All finishes are in cracked painting of the most beautiful effect. End of production was 1947. There exists a Russian copy of this device. 

[editor's note: the early black machine has the mica diaphragm, while my machine has a later, metal 'orthophonic' style reproducer.  I have pictures of the Russian one here.]



Suitcase gramophone Thorens foldable design: walnut, mahogany, imitation leather and natural leather.


[Below is another machine from <<>> that is also labeled as a 'Graphonette' and dated 1925.  Note the 'Argentin Concert Sound Box' sound box instead of 'Sonata'.]

Thorens Needle Tins


[I have a larger collection here]

Foreign brands

Foreign brands bought complete machines or components from Thorens. Perophone was the trademark of Vermon Lockwood Manufacturing Company of
London which since the 1910s successfully distributed Columbia gramophones.  In the early 20s, the portable Pixie Grippa had mechanics that came from Thorens. Perophone distributed under its own name, boxes of needles always represented by a race dog race with a disc in its mouth. [ editor's note: According to Moogk in Roll Back the Years (1974), "Meanwhile, the sales of portable gramophones, first promoted during the war years, rose to new heights in 1926...Mason & Risch of Toronto was Canadian representative for the Pixie Grippa, which was available to the retailer for $13."]

[End  of Swiss page.]

Picture of various Thorens reproducers from  ::the website <<>>

Unknown portable:

As mentioned elsewhere, I have made available the 1907, 1910 and 1914 Thorens catalogs reprinted by the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society.