Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Columbia Graphophone Co

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Model 357.
1929. Columbia Grafonola. Exhibit at the Grassington Folk Museum.
1929. Columbia Grafonola (detail). Exhibit at the Grassington Folk Museum.
Gramophone needles.

Makers of Columbia Records and Columbia Gramophones, of Clerkenwell Road, London EC

of Hayes, Middlesex

1900 A British company was formed as an offshoot of the Columbia Graphophone Manufacturing Co, of West Virginia, USA[1][2]

The Columbia Phonograph Co Inc of New York was the successor to the Columbia Graphophone Manufacturing Co[3]

1913 Under the copyright system, the company published notices of their intention to make and sell contrivances reproducing certain, named musical works[4]

1915 The Red Cross arranged with the company to send 20 instruments and records to hospitals in France for the amusement of the troops[5]

1917 Private company incorporated, Columbia Graphophone Co, at the initiative of Louis Sterling, to acquire the Columbia company's growing business in records in Europe[6]. Acquired the Hertford Record Company, which, prior to the war, had been the main British business of the German record company Carl Lindström AG.

1920 Lionel Guest and H. O. Merriman developed an electrical process for recording mass choral works which was used at the service commemorating the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey; two double-sided records were published by the company at cost[7]

1922 The shares held by the American parent were acquired by British interests

1923 The American parent was put into receivership.

1923 Converted to public company[8]

1923 Columbia Gramophone Co (sic) published a copyright notice about making certain recordings[9]

1924 Claims made at AGM that the company's development work had given Britain leadership in the art of the gramophone; released improved version of Grafonola[10]

1925 With the Constructive Finance and Investment Co, acquired a controlling interest in the Columbia Phonograph Co of New York[11]

1925 Columbia International Ltd was formed to acquire and develop foreign gramophone companies in close association with the Columbia Graphophone Co Ltd; the directors were essentially the same[12]

1926 Acquired Columbia International[13]

1928 Continued to acquire interests and/or control of gramophone and record companies abroad[14]

1929 Plessey produced the first British-made portable battery radio, the “National” which it supplied to Symphony and Columbia.

1929 Decided to start making radio sets in the UK[15] Made its first combined radio and gramophone set[16]

1931 Absorbed into the new Electrical and Musical Industries[17]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Mar 26, 1925
  2. The Times, May 11, 1923
  3. The Times, Mar 26, 1925
  4. The London Gazette 16 May 1913
  5. The Times, Jan 04, 1915
  6. The Times, May 11, 1923
  7. The Times, Dec 07, 1920
  8. The Times, May 11, 1923
  9. The London Gazette 25 May 1923
  10. The Times, May 30, 1924
  11. The Times, Mar 07, 1925
  12. The Times, Nov 05, 1925
  13. The Times, Dec 18, 1926
  14. The Times, Aug 14, 1928
  15. The Times, Sep 03, 1929
  16. The Times Sep 13, 1929
  17. The Times, Sep 17, 1931
  • Biography of Louis Sterling [1]