Siren #69: Checkered Past

Siren #69: Checkered Past

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Starting in 1905, various manufacturers made replacement horns to improve both the appearance and sound of Edison cylinder phonographs. This is a Flower Horn manufactured by Hawthorne and Sheble Manufacturing Co. in Philadelphia, which was at one point the largest aftermarket manufacturer in the world, offering more than 100 types of replacement horns, a whole line of phonograph accessories, and employing more than 1,000 people in 1907. But Ellsworth Hawthorne and Horace Sheble also had a disturbing knack for attracting legal trouble. They were blacklisted by both Edison and Victor for price cutting, for patent infringement, for using Edison’s name, and for removing nameplates from Edison’s Gem phonographs. In 1910, they went bankrupt and their assets were sold at public auction to Macy’s department store.

This Hawthorne and Sheble horn is married to an ebonized walnut base from a fallen tree in Swarthmore. Siren #69 shares dinner regularly with Michael T. Roberts and Christopher Wilson.

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