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Accession Record : Extract from Annual Report for 1937

COMMITTEE OF THE MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE Third Annual Report for 1937 (including the 14th Annual Report on the Lewis Evans Collection)


An acquisition of very great interest, acquired at the auction of Mr. Conrad Cooke's effects in 1924, was the large screw of one of the first Phonographs which was designed about 1879 by the great American inventor, Thomas Edison. Owing to a mixing of lots by the cataloguer, the instrument as purchased was incomplete. On being informed of its imperfection Mr. Henry Ford offered to have it restored, and in the best possible manner. Through his perfect organization the screw was sent over to America to Edison's own laboratory at Dearborn, Michigan, where original examples of his priceless productions are treasured. There under the skilled superintendence of Mr. Francis Jehl, who had worked in the closest association with Mr. Edison at Menlo Park, the missing parts have not only been made as new, but the Phonograph screw was once again clad with tinfoil, and made to record a greeting spoken by Mr. Ford himself. Bearing this message it arrived in Oxford in bond, most perfectly packed - no casket of jewels could have been better cared for - with a letter of instructions that it was not to be opened except by the Curator in the presence of the local Customs Officer. Unfortunately two over-zealous officers disregarded the letter, and by opening the box caused the record to become detached from the screw. Oxford has thus been deprived of the joy of hearing its reproduction of the voice of the one man who has appreciated and cared for the work of Thomas Edison more than any one else in the world.

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