Army and Navy Model of a Edison Company Phonograph, 1917

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Artifact is: 3 Dimensional Item

Located at: Montrose County Historical Museum

This artifact is significant to: Colorado

Artifact description:

In 1917, in response to a request by the U.S. Army Depot Quartermaster in New York, the Edison Company created a special model of phonograph. Known as the Army and Navy Model, the cost of this machine at the time was $60. The Edison Army/Navy Phonograph was protected in a sturdy wooden crate that was reinforced by angle iron and painted into anonymity with military enamel paint. The 280 different pieces of the model were numbered and labeled so it could be dismantled and rebuilt.

Why is this artifact significant?:

This Edison Phonograph is significant due to its ability to be dismantled easily. Dating back to the First World War where it had limited production, they were discontinued after the end of that war. No phonographs were bought by the Department of War but individual military units could buy them for their men. The Montrose Edison was painstakingly dismantled, numbered, and each piece carried by a Colorado soldier. The machine was reconstructed ‘on the other side’ and, after a day on the front it played the music that soldiers knew as a piece of home.

How does the artifact relate to Colorado history?:

This Edison Phonograph was bought by Montrose Elks Lodge No. 1053 for Montrose and Colorado soldiers. One soldier wrote that they cherished it like a baby, carrying it thru shell-torn villages to the front. The men would come back on relief and found comfort in the dingy dugout with the Phonograph. With the onset of WWII, this phonograph was again used for war effort in a window display of a local Jewelry store. The sight of it reminded passersbys of what music had meant to troops years ago and the need for money to buy records for the soldiers.

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