Saturday, May 28, 2011

Singerphone Sings Again

While the subject of this post stretches the boundaries of a garage sale, I thought it worthy of writing about considering it came free, and I owe a friend big time for it.  About a week ago, a friend of mine, who belongs to the St. Louis Freecycle Yahoo! Group, received the following Freecycle post:

"Wind-up 78 rpm phonograph console. 50" tall. "Singerphone" model made by Singer Talking Machine Co. of Milwaukee."

My friend, John, shot a message to me asking if I wanted it.  "GET IT!" was my reply as fast as I could type.  He replied back, but then heard nothing.  We'd given up on it, although he had never seen a "taken" message.  Then last Wednesday evening, he heard back from the person offering it.  It seems the person who was going to take it was a no show and it was mine to get.  My friend John arranged for it to be picked up today at noon in Kirkwood, MO.

The post didn't say whether it worked nor what condition it was in.  I've become accustomed to being disappointed with freecycled items, after all, they are free.  When we showed up, it appeared no one was home (the person offering it had been out of town leading up to today), so I thought it was going to be a wash.   But suddenly, the owner came speeding up in his car, just in time.  He opened the garage and we found the phonograph to be in very nice condition, and much larger than I initially expected.  I was concerned it wasn't going to fit in my van even with the seats out, but laying it on it's back, it did barely fit. John and  I thanked the gentleman and after dropping my friend back off at his house, I brought it home.

After a little cleaning up

It's a Singerphone Talking Machine by the Singer company of sewing machine fame out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Apparently, it was common back then for many companies in the furniture industry to jump on the band wagon, so to speak.  It was manufactured in 1920.  It has a cabinet underneath for records.

The crank

Singerphone Singer Talking Machine Co - Milwaukee Wis.

Tone Arm

Speed Adjustment

With a record, ready to try out

Does it work, you ask?  Listen for yourself.  That's a record from a collection my wife's aunt gave us a couple years back.  We've been looking for a player since then.

The platter had this on it:

This is a mismatch as Phonola was a portable phonograph model introduced around 1939, but I'll keep it as it's interesting, nonetheless.

The back of the insert

There's very little information available on the internet about the Singerphone.  The best I could find was an ad calling for salesmen to sell the model.  "Good territory still open!"
One thing to note with these old phonographs, they use steel needles which should only be used one time.  I have to admit I cheated and used the one on there.  But I did order another 100 from eBay.  There are 3 needle types: soft, medium and loud tone.  Because these old phonographs are entirely accoustic (there are no electronics), all sound depends on the needle and the discerning listener of the early 20th century had their choice of how loud they wanted it, which explains the 3 separate needle holders.
I'm going to enjoy listening to the rest of my 78 collection and now I don't have to ignore them when I see them at garage sales anymore.
Thanks, John, for the Singerphone score!


  1. i have one just like this got it at an auction do you know the value of this

    1. I really don't know the value of this. I would guess around $200 in fair condition like mine. I've never seen another Singerphone brand. I'd love to see pictures of yours.

  2. I have a SIngerphone console model capable of playing lateral and vertical cut records. I also have picture but don't know how to show you them. Mine also has volume control and several buttons that don't do anything anymore but I think it would repeat or stop depending on which button was pressed.

  3. I never knew about lateral vs. vertical cut records until I read your message. Very interesting. How old is your console? Love to see a picture of it.

  4. I have a Singerphone Upright very similar to the one on your website. It is in excellent working condition in a beautiful oak cabinet.
    I also have needles and a bunch of 78 records with it.
    American Pickers TV program recently found one similar and said it is worth around $4000.
    I would like to sell mine......if you know of anyone interested, have them call me at 252-354-8683.
    Emerald Isle,NC


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