Edison and the National Phonograph Co. Ltd
As Edison Bell’s 10 year monopoly drew to a close, Edison could at last set up and trade on his own account in Britain. His company set up office in the summer of 1902 and began recording an excellent series of British cylinders for the home market from May 1903. These were on the market in the last quarter of that year and new releases were issued until Oct. 1912 in the standard 2 minute playing time format. By 1908, the need for a longer playing record was sorely felt, and a new record of identical size but twice as many grooves to the inch which could play for well over 4 minutes was developed. It was introduced to the British market for April 1909 as the Edison 4 minute Amberol record. It was a good product in the hands of careful owners and caused , if correspondence of the time is to believed, a resurgence of interest in the cylinder phonograph; certainly, huge numbers of these delicate wax records survive in varying condition. The shortcomings of the medium were soon evident and a celluloid version called the Blue Amberol, was developed in the States to be introduced to the British market for February 1913. The British 4 minute list was continued in the new format and along with American and foreign records until a ban on all imports of records and machines was introduced in March 1916 because of the economic priorities and exigencies of the 1914-18 Great War. The ban was lifted in 1919 and Edison records were once again available until 1929 when production of the entertainment cylinder ceased for good after July of that year.
The Plumber (Clifton) by Winifred Hare and Percy Clifton. Edison 2 minute cylinder 13712 – April 1908. Cylinder recordings when new, were usually very clear and so comic dialogues were very popular, with or without music and song.
This one is a chilling sketch about a housewife with a burst pipe and her difficulties with a plumber who is an ardent trade-union man. Needless to say she is left with a very wet house, holding her finger over the burst while he goes off for lunch.