Friday, March 28, 2014

Lucky Find, What A Night

In amongst a small stack of 12 records bought online. Hadn't asked for any titles or extra information from the seller, just judging from the designs of the sleeves visible in the image I'd decided to chance it and made an offer.

There were more '50-ies records in there than I had expected (good ones, though), but also this lucky gem.

A Brunswick record of Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra, catalogue number A 86043. With vocal chorus. Listening to the record; very good stuff. Vocal sounds recognizably familiar, but no name given on the label.

The A-side has "What A Night, What A Moon, What A Girl" and the B-side has "It's Too Hot For Words". With a slightly tattered but original sleeve.

Again the vast store of trivia that is the internet gave extra information. Turns out this is a recording from July 31st, 1935 of Billie Holiday accompanied by Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra. Seems also that this is a fairly sought after recording, judging from some listings on this same internet.

On this particular record there are an amazing amount of numbers, more than the usual matrix or recording number embossed in along the inner rim. One of these turns out to be the original US Brunswick catalogue number 7511. Given the extra notice in French, this label with number A 86043 was probably for the Canadian or another export (France) market. That looks like a small CA on the bottom edge of the label, so Canadian perhaps.

There of course is already a recording of this recording of What A Night, What A Moon, What A Boy on Youtube. (Some how the title is gender-flexible...) Also "It's Too Hot For Words" of course.

And somehow this record ended up in a small, mixed stack of records in a parcel via the mail, onto a turntable and ready to be played.

Good stuff :-)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Project Parvus

New purchase. A bit of a project, as can be seen.

And the inside of the case...

It is a Parlophone Parvus portable gramophone. Or the remains of one; well, it looks bad, but it's pretty much complete and the spring and diaphragm appear to be fine. Not a lot of information about this particular type online, but I'd guess it is from the early 30-ies. Underneath the turntable the outline of the original label with the quality sign-offs and dates can still be seen, the label is however long gone.

Needs work, i.e. project :)

Already underway, taken apart completely and started cleaning.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Horological excursion - Shirley

Ladies wristwatch. She spotted this one on the local online auction site and after putting in a modest offer this was accepted by the seller. It arrived well packed, working and needing but very little cleaning of the case. It came with a stretch or expansion strap that really was a bit too wide for this watch, to be replaced by a cord strap. It's really amazingly small, the lug-to-lug distance is about 21mm, the clock-face itself is 9mm wide.

The crystal is acrylic, where I nearly messed up the cleaning. To thoroughly clean and disinfect the case I used alcohol and got some also on the glass (never stopped to consider acrylic). Immediately it misted over white where the alcohol flowed onto the crystal. Luckily it was not too hard to polish it clear again (toothpaste and cloth), making only the inner hard-to-reach corners still showing some misting.

The make is easily spotted, being marked clearly and plain to see on the face and on the crown too.

It can also be dated. Just from the looks it could be anywhere from the late thirties to the early sixties, but it can be dated more exact using the code on the back of the case. Just marking a watch with the actual year of manufacture would be too obvious a method of course, so a secret code was used.

From 1950 or so onwards, Bulova used a letter to indicate the decade (L for the fifties, M the sixties and so on) and the digit the year. With a mark of L1, this watch can be dated as made in 1951. (There is a whole community online dedicated to only Bulova watches. I was amazed, I was also able to learn a lot there!)

The year of manufacture is confirmed by the same L1 code on the movement.

Finding out what model it is, was a bit harder. Bulova made an amazing array of different models over time, just scroll through a page with some of the range for the forties. The date of manufacture narrows it down a bit however and scanning some of the ads of the period it was possible to positively identify this small watch as Shirley.

Possibly introduced in 1946 in time for the gifting season, as in this 2-page advertisement. The model is also advertised later and available in white, yellow gold and rose gold. Also I think sometimes as 'Shirley A' with stainless steel back.

This particular model was still made in 1951 and was sold and used. At some time the original expansion bracelet wore out and it was fitted with the closest match available at that time. Then probably not used for a long time, until it was put up for sale online here. Now fitted with a new (old stock) strap and to be worn again.

Amazingly long-lasting analog technology :-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The giant typewriter again

They did get a lot of mileage out of the giant typewriter, or perhaps secretly they did build several over time. This time it is shown in a 1937 clipping from Popular Mechanics. By then the huge typewriter surely was not news anymore and not yet World's Fair news?

Now the champion typist is not racing hop-scotch over the keys, but leisurely dictating to the girl stepping around the keyboard. Though the picture shows the typist in profile; the clipping being from 1937 a champion of around that era would be likely. My first guess is that this could then be Norman Saksvig who won in Chicago then.

As proudly announced by Messr Smith-Corona's local distributor in a small add in a September 11, 1936 newspaper

That would be odd then. The giant typewriter was an Underwood marketing asset. Saksvig won on an LC Smith & Corona (and did publicity for them, at least did so around '47).

Maybe LC Smith & Corona also wanted a giant machine of their own.

Ah well, maybe it is not Saksvig. More likely then that it is George Hossfeld who was linked to Underwood and featured in their marketing materials.

Just a distraction...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A room full of monkeys

So this is what the infinite monkey theorem would look like in practice.

Another obvious title that springs to mind for this is 'monkey business' (Royal monkey business, that is). Another thought that springs to mind is 'this is just weird'.

Not an attempt at putting the infinite monkey theorem to the test, but part of a promotional stunt for a zoo. This probably would not be acceptable today, but it made for a two page article in 1936.

(random browsing begets random results...)