A Guide to the UT Texas Memorial Museum Music Collection, [circa early 1900s]
Accompanying Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 was the creation of tinfoil cylinders to allow for the playback of various audio recordings. The tinfoil method unfortunately tended to be unreliable, and subsequently, a wax cylinder was created. However, it wasn’t Edison who created the wax process. Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter, financed by Alexander Graham Bell, developed these cylinders, which were produced on brown wax, and were originally designed for dictation (the wax could be shaved off, which allowed for multiple recordings). The sturdiness of the brown wax method prevailed and became the most popular way to distribute sound recordings until 1902, when the even more reliable Gold Mould method was developed.
The brown wax cylinders were produced without labels; thus each recording was accompanied with a slip of paper with credits. Furthermore, brown wax recordings came with a spoken word introduction on each cylinder. Later cylinders tended to include title, artist, issue number, and other identifiers imprinted on one end of the roll.
Bruderhofer, Norman, "Cylinder Guide: Brown Wax Cylinders." Accessed February 17, 2016. http://www.cylinder.de/guide_brown-wax-cylinders.html
“UCSB Cylinder Archive,” UC Santa Barbara Library. Accessed February 17, 2016. http://cylinders-stage.library.ucsb.edu/index.php
The UT Texas Memorial Museum Music Collection consists of 12 brown wax cylinders, encompassing a variety of recordings from the first decades of the twentieth century.
Archivist’s note: Some cylinders are damaged. See inventory for information.
This collection is restricted. Please contact repository for further details.
UT Texas Memorial Music Collection, [circa early 1900s], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Amanda Reyes, February 2016.
Detailed Description of the Papers