This is a prime example of the second version of the Columbia "AJ" Disc Graphophone. Columbia had witnessed the phenomenal growth of the Berliner Gramophone (the world's first DISC --78 rpm -- talking machine) during the latter half of the 1890s. Columbia was desperate to add disc machines to their cylinder Graphophone catalogue. Finally, they maneuvered a way to break Berliner's monopoly of the genre, and in 1901 introduced two "Disc Graphophones " -- the "AJ" and the "AH." The AH followed the principles of design embodied in Columbia's cylinder machines, having nickel-plated motor plates exposed on the tops of their oak cabinets. The AJ copied aspects of the Berliner Gramophone which Columbia had so much envied.

But the "AJ," with a complicated and potentially troublesome motor, proved problematic. It needed improvement, not the least of which was a 10" diameter turntable to play the most popularly-sized Columbia disc records. So, in 1903, the AJ was improved, to simplify it, replace the wear-prone motor and give it a 10" turntable. The charming and ornate oak cabinetry was retained. In other words, the "second model" AJ very much resembles the first except for the significant technical improvements that made it a better instrument. This improved model is the one you see above. It is the rarest of the AJs, since the machine received a complete redesign the following year.

The improved motor was mounted on a nickel-plated motor plate, but interestingly it was affixed UNDER the top board of the cabinet, an indication that the design of Columbia Disc Graphophones was moving away from the old paradigm of mimicking cylinder Graphophone design. Among the components is a fiber gear, which was already a Columbia feature, to reduce motor noise. Shades of earlier motors (vertical governor) and motors-to-come (bevel gears) can both be seen here. We can pronounce the motor a success -- since it plays quietly and smoothly.

The soundbox is an early version of the "Analyzing," which features a needlebar support system not unlike Victor's. It plays with special clarity, and of course we have rebuilt and adjusted it.

The beautiful oak cabinet features a historically accurate banner decal. The original decal was badly effaced, and could not be preserved. This replica decal is handmade by a friend who has devoted his retirement to producing decals that are literally indistinguishable from the originals. The value of antique phonographs is in fact enhanced by correct and professional restoration.

These aluminum arms are stunning, and original. In fact, all the components of this instrument are original.

The crank is a direct carry-over from Columbia's cylinder Graphophones -- an element of previous machines lingering in the improved model.

On the side of the cabinet, a carrying handle in oxidized bronze finish was a signature feature of Columbia's better model Disc Graphophones. You can also see the on/off/speed control protruding to the left of the carrying handle. This intersting placement of controls was seen only briefly in this short-lived version.

Our thoroughly restored talking machine could bring a smile to the face of any grouch. Do not mistake our carefully adjusted, meticulously restored instrument for the junk you find on elsewhere on the Internet -- our machines work properly and sound great! From phonophan you won't hear any of the "Needs a little cleaning up, but ought to be a real good one if you know how to fix them" nonsense you get on eBay!

Price: $1550.00 US, plus s/h (NY State residents must add tax if applicable.).


Telephone: 585-244-5546 


               PO Box 747

               Henrietta, NY 14467 USA

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