Little Jack Horner ; Edison Talking Doll cylinder, brown wax ; Timpson collection

Little Jack Horner ; Edison Talking Doll cylinder, brown wax ; Timpson collection

Photo credit: NPS

Title: Little Jack Horner (English nursery rhyme)

Record type: Edison Talking Doll cylinder, brown wax (production design)

Recording date and location: c. February to May 1890, Edison Phonograph Works, West Orange, New Jersey

From collection: Rosemary Timpson

Provenance of the cylinder: Edward Pershey, former Supervisory Museum Curator at Edison National Historic Site, recalls: "It was sometime around 1984 that a gentleman from Montclair, if I remember correctly, walked into the museum entrance with an Edison Talking Doll. It was in pristine condition, in an original box, and had the original instructions. He offered to play the doll by turning the crank on the back, and so I asked him to wait a few minutes. I ran to my office to retrieve a cassette tape recorder. (High tech!) We set up the recorder in front of the doll and he cranked away. The doll uttered the first lines of the nursery rhyme "Little Jack Horner." I am surprised and pleased to find out that that specific cassette recording may be the only example of an Edison Talking Doll recording created by actually operating the doll and not by taking the sound signal off the ring-shaped cylinder some other way."

Source of the digital audio: The cylinder was re-recorded onto an analog cassette tape on July 13, 1984 (NPS catalog number EDIS 95513) at Edison National Historic Site, using the doll's mechanism to play the record into a microphone. Both the doll record and mechanical sounds made by the doll's mechanism can be heard.


Last updated: April 12, 2015

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