Collection Highlight – 78 rpm Records

_DSC4106_DSC4072IMG_2330_2I have been working on packaging and photographing a collection comprising 35 78-rpm shellac discs, which will be featured on the 45 Pieces of Queanbeyan online exhibition along with a portable gramophone. The collection was donated by Muriel Hasler and played by a local family who were descendents of Blewitts of Lobb Hole. There is one cover proudly promoting: REG. LUNDIE, Federal Emporium, BUNGENDORE. “The Tall man with  the Short Prices.” Photographing this record collection made me reflect on the progress of sound technology. As today we tend to store music in the cloud purchased virtually from Itunes, a single track or a whole set, and listen to it in a small portable device, a computer, tablet or phone.

This particular 78-rpm collection provides us a glimpse of music played and danced to in Queanbeyan during the 1920s. Tracks such as A Thousand Miles from Here, 1924 played by Carl Fenton’s Orchestra or Hi, Ho the Merrio, 1926 by Irving Aaronson, describes the musical zeitgeist of the 1920s, the first one with dark lyrics yet in a bright tune, and the second one describing a man being happy and in love. Whether this music was limited to private households I tend to think the fox trot was the hip-hop of its generation, loud, edgy and fashionable forward, after all it became popular and fashionable across the world after the first Great War. Most of the 78s in this collection were produced by Regal, Brunswick, Parlophone, Zonophone and Columbia records.

The 78s are 10 inches or 25 cms in diameter and double sided containing only two tracks. Each track lasts approximately 3 minutes 45 seconds. Advertising slogans as ‘Surface smooth as glass’ or ‘His Masters Voice’ or ‘Two Good Selections on Every Brunswick Record’ were catchy phrases companies used to advertise these. As a note of interest, all these 78s have a miniature royalty stamp glued on to the record’s label. This stamp reflects the royalties paid to the artists by the record companies.

Ximena Briceno, Museum Assistant