Letters are an important source of documentation on the beginnings of the Victor Co., and in our archives we have selected documents that give amazing insight into the start of the music industry. Letters from Emile Berliner, Eldridge Johnson, Victor artists, and other accounts often talk about details which are not widely known to the public, but have wide reaching consequences on how we experience and how we have come to love music.

Oct. 1, 1906
Victor Talking Machine Co.
Camden, NJ

Dear Sirs,

Understanding that you intend to avail yourselves of the option authorized by the Directors and Stockholders of the Consolidated Talking Machine Co. to buy the Victor stock owned by the same?, I beg to remind you that the resolution which authorized this sale had a provision approaching a committee of the three, Mssrs. Levy, Lloyd and Gold___, to receive the money for this block of Victor stock of 800,000 shares. As I do not know whether you have a text of that resolution in your hands and at a recent visit to Philadelphia, I found that Mr. Leonard was out of town, I take the liberty of suggesting to you, that wherever you deposit the money, that it be done to the credit of the fair committee of the Consolidated Talking Machine Co. so that the resolution be properly complied with. It is of course entirely proper that if Mr. Leonard so desires, that his Commission of $20,000 be withheld by you for him.

Very truly yours,
Emile Berliner
1st Vice President
Consolidated Talking Machine Co.

 

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Columbia Road, Between 14th and 15th Streets
Washington D.C.
July 1894

Dear Joe,
When I started on the gramophone I need hinged bars instead of springs alltogether but generally found the tone was pure enough, or may do for all kind of music etc and perhaps a very fine mechanical hinge may even do better than a spring for articulation and I shall carefully go over the soundbox _____ is recording. As soon as we are _____ in our rubber copies will send to me

Emile Berliner

This letter comes from Emile Berliner’s nephew, Joseph Sanders, in response to questions from Mr. B.L. Aldridge, the Victor Co. historian from the early 1950s to 1959. For context, it should be known that Mr. Sanders was one of the first to work with Emile Berliner on developing the disc record and record player, and was sent to Germany in 1898 to start the German Gramophone Co., also known as Deutsche Grammophon. In the above letter, Sanders confirms that a fellow colleague of Eldridge Johnson and Camdenite, Belford G. Royal was running operations at the Gramophone Co. in London, introducing Sanders and recording executive, Mr. Fred Gaisberg to the facilities. He also notes that machines made by Eldridge Johnson in Camden were being sent to London for storage and eventual sales.

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Here, Alfred Clark’s sister is explaining his beginnings in the music industry to her nephew, Alfred R. Clark. She states that Mr. Clark met Emile Berliner after a failed business trip to Paris on behalf of Mr. Edison. Immediately, he realized that Berliner’s disc record and record player was vastly superior to Edison’s cylinder and subsequently joined Emile Berliner and Eldridge Johnson. He moved to Philadelphia and became roommate with Eldridge Johnson, traveling back and forth to Camden to improve upon designs.

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The Victor Talking Machine Co.
New York City.

Gentlemen:-

I cannot praise the Victor Talking Machine too highly. I can safely recommend it to all my friends as the greatest talking machine on the market, there is no doubt about it.

Yours very truly

George M. Cohan

Leon F. Douglass, the Vice President and General Manager of the Victor Talking Machine Co., explains in this 1901 letter the origins of the term “talking machine”, and the origins of the “Victor” name.