|Label on back of console|
Tucked away beneath the cantilever staircase and trumped by that very staircase, along with the Aeolian organ console and the Haines mural of the Parkwood grounds, is a 300lb 1940 RCA Victor Instrument that operates as a radio; phonograph; recorder; and public address system.
Built in Montreal, this is one of those artefacts Parkwood has in the collection that I am always in awe of the amount of information we have that tells its history and beginnings. Most who follow this blog or have encountered me, know that I like to discuss the layers of information and history that Parkwood has in terms of our collection. The RCA Victor is an excellent example of this, an item that draws information both from its presence in the Estate, but also the supporting information that lives in the Parkwood Archives.
I opened the unit this morning to take a look at it again, before I blogged about it.
Here is the first look, a record still in position as if it had just finished playing. The record, Fritz Kreisler and the London Philharmonic, Concerto in E Minor
Link to hear
According to Wikipedia, "Friedrich "Fritz" Kreisler (February 2, 1875 – January 29, 1962) was an Austrian-born violinist and composer. One of the most noted violin masters of his or any other day, and regarded as one of the greatest violin masters of all time, he was known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing. Like many great violinists of his generation, he produced a characteristic sound which was immediately recognizable as his own."
What is interesting about this piece is the claims in the sales manual, it was a phonograph and radio, but also a recorder and a public address system. Among the literature that exists in the archives, are photos of the turntable systems and microphone, an artefact that Parkwood still has in the collection.
It makes me wonder if the address system was used during Sam and Adelaide's parties, perhaps their war bond drives 1939 through 1945?
Did Gracie Fields use the built in microphone to entertain the guests at the Chrysanthemum Tea bond drive when she was here?
The turntable shows that a collection of records could be stored, ready to play, without interruption as the musical entertainment of any Parkwood event. The control mechanism demonstrates how easy it was to turn the dial to move from radio, to recorder, to turntable to broadcast.
Music was a significant attribute to the household; the Aeolian organ, the Duo-Case player mechanism for the organ, the Steinway, the daughters' instrument lessons, and impromptu performances, and the bands/orchestras hired to provide music for various occasions at the Estate, including Guy Lombardo.
However, it doesn't end there in terms of what is in the archives collection. Among the items that were saved, tucked away for safe keeping at some point among the household items, is a collection of the operating instructions booklet; a collection of needles, sharpeners for the record needles; and a homemade chart on stations and weather reporting broadcasting times.