THIS ITEM IS SOLD
YANKEE PRINCE TALKING MACHINE
The Yankee Prince is one of the rarest and most fascinating American talking
machines. It embodies the vision of a man of courage and ambition who
created a small talking machine empire in the Midwest. Arthur J.
O'Neill began as a salesman for dairy products in Wisconsin. He met
another man of considerable ambition, Robert Johns, who was determined to
move from milk and cheese to more permanent merchandise. Johns went to
Chicago and began distributing chinaware, to be used as store premiums.
O'Neill followed in the footsteps of his mentor and started the
O'Neill-James Company, also in Chicago, which was an advertising agency
chiefly involved with premium promotions.
O'Neill created the "Busy Bee" and "Aretino" brands of talking machine,
in order to distribute them to stores, which offered their customers a
chance to own a talking machine in exchange for business loyalty.
After a while, O'Neill introduced an improved version of the "Busy Bee,"
called the "Yankee Prince." The period during which the Yankee Prince
was manufactured -- 1909-1912 -- was one of turmoil in the talking machine
business. The independent firms which had flourished during the first
decade of the 20th century were methodically obliterated by the attorneys of
Victor and Columbia.
O'Neill, after a nasty bout in the courts, took refuge under the aegis of
Columbia, which actually manufactured the instrument you see above, to
O'Neill's exacting specifications. Yet, fewer of the Yankee Prince
machines were sold than the preceding Busy Bees, so the Yankee Prince is a
The most extraordinary aspect of the Yankee Prince is its decal. And, yes,
this is an original decal. The decal is an allegory in which Old World
decadence (the cameo on the left) is contrasted against American
steadfastness and pluck (the cameo on the right). In the middle is a
haying scene worthy of Currier and Ives. This amazing decal is the
most beautiful ever to grace an American talking machine.
We mentioned that the machines were manufactured to O'Neill's rigid
standards, and this is evidenced in the design and construction of the
soundbox (needle head). The Yankee Prince sound box is considerably
different than those used on conventional Columbia talking machines of the
period. It is in fact better! The diaphragm is larger in
diameter, giving louder reproduction, but the body of the soundbox is made
of aluminum, so the fact that it is larger does not result in record wear.
The nickel plating on the tone arm is in remarkably excellent condition. The
horn has its original black enamel in excellent shape.
Furthermore, O'Neill insisted on a better motor than Columbia customarily
offered their "client" brands. The Yankee Prince motor is in fact the
same one used in the Grafonola, Columbia's premier product at the time.
O'Neill demanded high standards for the instruments sold under his brand.
Yankee Prince horns were black, with gold stripes, as seen here -- ORIGINAL
machine has been thoroughly and completely restored, cleaned, polished and
painstakingly adjusted. It was literally taken down to the smallest
screw and meticulously reassembled. The Yankee Prince originally had a
steel lug on the turntable, near the center spindle. This was meant to
allow only Busy Bee records to be played. Busy Bee records had an extra hole
in them, to accept the lug. When we obtained this machine, the lug had
been removed -- this was often done by the original owner -- so that ANY 78
rpm record could be played. If the purchaser desires, the "record lug"
could be replaced. But as it stands now, the Yankee Prince can play
Price: $1650.00 US, including needles and 78 rpm records, plus s/h (NY State residents must pay tax, if applicable).
US Post: Phonophan
PO Box 747
Henrietta, NY 14467 USA
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